The last time Jeff Rabin rode his bike as a commuter was to and from high school in San Francisco, more than three decades ago.
Between then and now, the urban planning graduate student has bicycled recreationally and has participated in a fundraising ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles eight times.
Rabin now drives a hybrid, but Thursday he will return to his roots as a bicycling commuter during Bike to School Day, organized by the Bicycle Coalition at UCLA.
The group planned the event to coincide with the city of Los Angeles’ Bike Week, in which the city promotes bicycling and alternative transportation options, said Alexis Lantz, an urban planning graduate student and member of the coalition.
“We’re throwing ourselves a big party to celebrate the fact that we all bike to school, and hopefully this party also encourages some people who have never biked to school before to try it,” said Herbie Huff, co-founder of the coalition.
The day will begin with groups of bicyclists, both new and seasoned, who will ride to school together from different parts of Los Angeles, Huff said.
There are three caravans departing from different parts of Los Angeles, and bicyclists can join in at any point along the route.
Huff added that the groups will hopefully help new bicyclists become comfortable with riding on busy city streets during rush hour.
“(The caravans) ride really slow, they’re designed for newbies.” Huff said.
At 9:30 a.m., these caravans will meet in Bruin Plaza to enjoy a pancake breakfast and participate in a raffle for bicycle accessories or other items, Huff said.
Although the groups bicycling together will not arrive until mid-morning, the breakfast will last from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. and is open to anyone who rode their bike to school.
Huff said she expects breakfast, financed by the The Green Initiative Fund and the Sustainable Resource Center, to attract about 200 people.
The caravans of student bicyclists will continue beyond just Bike to School Day, Huff said.
Currently, groups of students informally ride to school together, but Huff said she would like UCLA to institutionalize this practice in a similar way that Zimrides, or UCLA student car-sharing, is institutionalized.
Rabin said he will probably be riding on his own tomorrow, but he said he looks forward to the event because it will bring attention to bicycling as a viable form of longer-distance transportation.
“I just hope we’re going to have enough pancakes,” Rabin said. “One thing about cyclists ““ they get hungry.”