USC Price School of Public Policy

Planning student group honored by APA for community bike program

July 20, 2015

From Price staff reports

Price MPL students with board members from the American Planning Association’s Los Angeles chapter

Price MPL students with board members from the American Planning Association’s Los Angeles chapter (Photo courtesy of APA Los Angeles)

The Associated Students of Planning and Development (ASPD) at the USC Price School of Public Policy received the Academic Award of Merit from the American Planning Association’s Los Angeles chapter. The award recognizes the student organization’s innovative Neighborhood Bicycle Program, which repurposes abandoned bicycles into the local community.

Each year, APA Los Angeles hosts an awards gala to recognize the exceptional planning-related work of practitioners, educators and students throughout the L.A. region.

“As part of its broad community engagement efforts, the ASPD’s work to repurpose abandoned bicycles into our local neighborhoods represents a very thoughtful and comprehensive program,” said Professor Marlon Boarnet, director of graduate programs in planning and development.

“The APA-LA is one of the largest and most active sections, and winning this award is a tremendous achievement,” he added. “ASPD members have demonstrated their strong commitment to the community, and I’m delighted on their well-deserved recognition.”

Promoting health, eliminating barriers

The aim of the ASPD’s Neighborhood Bicycle Program is to develop and support the city’s growing bicycle culture — providing community members an opportunity to engage with Price master of planning students in a discussion of bicycle maintenance and safety and to receive their own bicycle donated by USC Department of Public Safety (DPS).

The vision of this program is to introduce underrepresented populations to the bike community, helping promote the equitable distribution of the health and financial benefits of bicycle ownership. The program helps eliminate barriers that prevent community members from taking advantage of new infrastructure in their communities.

Spotting windows of opportunity

Price MPL student Ariane Briski came up with the idea for the Neighborhood Bicycle Program when she noticed how many bikes on campus never seemed to move. In some cases, people may just leave bikes on campus if they break down or when they head home at the end of a semester. As sustainability chair at ASPD, she wondered if there might be a way to repurpose those bikes.

She found that the DPS collected the abandoned bikes and stored them in a parking structure off campus. With Briski and ASPD colleagues Douglas and Young taking the lead, the student group developed relationships with DPS.

They also worked with the USC Bike Coalition and Bike USC, who contributed volunteer hours and professional skills to help repair the bicycles awarded to community members who completed the workshops on bike safety and rules of the road.

Making a difference

As a result of their efforts, ASPD was able to get more than 20 abandoned bicycles from DPS. They partnered with the East L.A. Community Corporation, an affordable housing developer and non-profit urban planning advocate in Boyle Heights, to connect with neighborhood residents.

This past April, ASPD gave the bikes to residents of the Sol y Luna multifamily affordable apartments recently opened by the East L.A. Community Corporation.

More photos from the awards gala can be seen on the APA-LA Facebook page.