Forced Sustainability: Still Rolling AlongCSA
I’ve been car free in Los Angeles for 6 months now and so far, so good! In one of the most car-centric cities in the country, I’ve been managing just fine by using my bike, public transportation and ride sharing. There have only been a couple times when I wished I had a car but they are more than outnumbered by the times I’ve been like, “Thank GOD I don’t have to worry about parking/gas/traffic/driving/DMV”.
Times I Wish I Had A Car
It’s funny because now that I’m trying to write it down I can’t really recall the specific instances but there have been a few times when I was overcome by the feeling of “Damn it! If I had a car, I wouldn’t have to deal with this!” I think all three of those times I was running late and all of my transportation options were not going to get me there on time or I was crunched for time and I wanted to do 1,000,000 things in a day and in my mind, for a split second, a car was the perfect solution. But each of those times I managed to find a work around and everything that really needed to get done, got done and it all worked out more than just fine. Sometimes my mind and my emotions get the better of me and I let small things snowball into major things in my head. In my head that 5 minute delay can turn into me losing my job and the 999,990 things that won’t get done are my ruination. When in reality that 5 minute delay goes totally unnoticed and those 999,990 things are really not that important or are even superfluous distractions. When I take a minute to breath, get present and really evaluate what is actually happening right now it put things in perspective and that voice in my mind that likes to catastrophize things quiets down, my heart stops racing, my jaw unclenches and I become the water flowing around the rock rather than the rock. Breathe in, breathe out, I don’t actually need a car. It’s going to be just fine. Then I hop on my bike and go.
Fitness Weather I Like It Or Not
One of the most popular comments I get when people find out that I ride my bike 30 miles round trip to work is “Wow, that’s a great workout”. And they are right, it is. As my loyal readers know, that’s not why I do it but it’s a fantastic side effect of using my bike for transportation so I’ll take it. And you know what? After riding 100 – 150 miles each week for the past 5 months I am in pretty damn good shape.
However, when I first started using my bike for transportation I was not in great shape. I had just recovered from a broken wrist but even before that I had sort of fallen off my fitness wagon. I try to blame it on my divorce or moving or changing jobs but the reality was that I was just bored with my fitness routine and hadn’t found anything that got me excited about working out every single day. And to be honest I wasn’t that excited about riding my bike at first either. It was a means to an end. The only goal was to save time and have more freedom with my transportation options and that was it.
Riding my bike every day has reminded me how much I really love it. Not just for transportation but in general. I love climbing up the hills, the burn in my thighs, I love sweating out all of my worries and frustrations, I love all of that breathing and of course I love whizzing down those hills as fast as I can because what goes up must come down. I also love being in shape! I forgot how much more energy I have when I’m fit and how much better I sleep. I also just feel more confident about myself in general. I appreciate my body and love it more when I’m connected to it through physical activity. Along with all the other things my body does for me it now also does the job of a car! I mean, I definitely got to give my body props for that.
My bike commute has turned into my daily workout so I haven’t been going to the gym. I would love to say it saves me money on gym membership but I still have a gym membership because I have this fantasy that I will also find time to hit the gym and get SHREDDED!! So far I have just been donating but I’m holding on to the dream dammit!
So Fresh So Clean
People also ask me if I shower at work or change or how I handle hygiene with such a long bike commute. This answer is not for everyone but it’s how I handle it. I do not shower when I get to work. It’s currently not an option with the client I’m working for so I just shower in the morning before I leave. Because I’m fortunate enough to sweat in a delicate fashion, I’m not too bad when I arrive at work. I know some people who are human sprinklers when they sweat and I can imagine that it would be really gross to have to sit like that all day but I dry off in about an hour and I don’t mind the way it feels. However, by the time I get home at night, the two layers of sweat are more than I can tolerate so I usually rinse off before bed and I definitely shower if I’m going anywhere in public. If I need to look really cute or if I have a dress up event during or after work that’s when I’ll either take public transportation or a ride share. Then I can arrive fresh as a daisy.
Another comment or question I get when people find out I use my bike to get around is “That’s so dangerous!” or “Isn’t that scary?!” One thing that makes me feel safer is that I’m not the only one on a bike. Not one day goes by when I’m not sharing the bike lane or riding along side other cyclists. I really do believe there’s safety in numbers so having people to ride with gives me a lot of comfort. Technology has also been a huge help in navigating the streets of LA safely on a bike. Google has an option to route bike travel and it does a pretty great job of routing me through the city on streets that have good bike lanes or by keeping me off of busy, highly trafficked streets so that I feel really safe getting around. I do ride my bike at night and having a really strong headlight and brake lights keeps me visible and feeling safe. And if for whatever reason I find myself far from home late at night on my bike after the buses have stopped running, there’s always Uber XL! This has really helped me in a few situations and I’m so grateful to have the option of calling a vehicle big enough to put my bike into it if I need to.
The past 6 months have flown by and I feel like March 2017 (when my suspension is up) will be here before I know it. I’ve learned a ton about this city and getting around without a car and I expect there will be more lessons to learn which I will happily share. Oh and here are some photos of my bike commute to give you and idea of what it’s like.