I’ve been sans car in Los Angeles for just about 7 months now; a feat often spoken of as insane, impractical and impossible.
Well, I’m here today to tell you that it is very possible, usually practical, but yes, completely insane.
The list of positive reasons for biking is overwhelmingly long…
I save a lot of money. I get in cardio everyday, whether I like it or not. I get natural vitamin D everyday, whether I like it or not. I save a lot of money.
Did I mention I save a lot of money?
While that’s great and all, you can see where the negative begins to creep in….
namely: whether I like it or not.
Yes, I used to LOVE biking. The freedom. The wind in my hair. Pushing my way up a steep ass hill. But much like how I lost my fervor for reading when all my AP classes demanded hours of “required reading,” I often dread getting on my bike in the morning. Where some people wake up, breathe in the sunshine through their windows and think “hey, what a lovely morning; I should bike to work today!,” I roll out of bed, sunny or not (stupid rain) and grudgingly hop on the bike. I mean, really though, even if it is sunny, biking to work in 98 degree heat is just stupid.
I also blame drivers. I use hand signals, I stop for stop signs, brake for red lights, check both ways, and hug the side of the road when no bike lane is available; still, L.A. road rage gets me constantly honked at, yelled at, and nearly killed on a pretty regular basis. Share the road, bitches!
I’ve also just moved into a new apartment MUCH farther away from my daily activities (work, gym, park for bootcamp, the boy’s house)… 6 miles from my new part time job to be exact. Honestly, the biking 6 miles home isn’t a big deal. However, even biking the 4 miles there NOW turns me into a gross, sweaty, red beast that I don’t think customers are going to want to interact with. I think I’m going to be riding the buses here a bit…
I’d also like to state, for the record, that all this touting that you’ll be in perfect shape by biking all the time is bullshit. I still huff and puff. And my thighs are GIGANTIC. Granted, a lot is muscle, but biking has not turned me into a lean mean fat burning machine like everyone seems to claim. I blame this more on my eating habits than the bike, but I don’t want people who eat shit to be discouraged if they start biking and don’t see those kinds of results. 90% of that is your diet!
So do I recommend being a biking commuter in a city like L.A.? Sure. Just plan ahead. Figure out your routes. Know where your bike lanes are. Figure out the public transit system. Carry a loaded metro card on you… this is big. This is particularly important if you find yourself zooming 4 miles completely downhill to your destination, thinking how easy this is…. until you realize that means you would have to bike 4 miles back completely UPHILL in rush hour traffic. Thanks Highland.
Now, I’m sure a lot of my complaints could be remedied by an electric upgrade, or even transitioning from my mountain bike to a hybrid. Hell, at this point, I’m sure a simple tune up would make a world of difference. But did I mention I’m needing to save a lot of money?
Yes, biking is cheaper, but you still have to put money into it (as it goes with everything in this life), so be prepared for that as well.
I also need to add that I am incredibly accident prone and hurt myself a lot; the bike doesn’t help. I don’t even mean falling off of it (though I have done this drunkenly a couple times now…). I’ve punctured holes in my knee with my rusty gears fighting to get my bike lock undone, scraped my shin open on the pedal when the gears stick and won’t shift, and often end up with a variety of unexplained injuries on my ankles and calves.
In short: I’m a hot mess.
To summarize, be eco-friendly, get a bike, and spend less time in the car. You’ll be improving physical and mental health, reducing your carbon footprint and saving money.
And please stop honking at me. I see you, and I hear you.
Want more? Found this list of reasons to not ride your bike to work and thought it was quite entertaining 🙂