Pedestrian-Bike Balance

The Internet is a scary and wonderful thing all at the same time.  So much information at your fingertips waiting for you to use the right search terms to find what you’re looking for.

Awhile back I started to think about how I wanted a better method of transportation to get to more areas of the city where buses or the metro might not be as efficient.  And no, buying a car again was not in my list of options.  I love being car-free, and I will strive to never go back to being a car owner again.

At one point I convinced myself I could learn to ride a skateboard.  Then, I happened to meet a skateboarder at a book sale in DTLA.  We started talking, and I eventually asked him if he would ever teach someone how to skateboard.  He smiled and replied, “No way.”  Something about not wanting to be the cause of broken bones or bruised ribs.  Understandable.

Though, that ended my dreams of skateboarding.

Around the same time, someone suggested I get one of those razors to scoot along the sidewalks as a way to get around.  Tempting, but no.

So, finally I realized, I’m going to have to get back on a bike.  It’s been several years since I’ve been on a bike, let alone ridden one in the streets during rush hour.  But, I’m never one to shy away from challenges. Though for someone who was not directly connected to the cyclist culture, I had no idea where to start.

[Enter stage left – the Internet.]

Flight Vs. Bike was really the start of it all.  A couple of weeks later, I contacted Joe Anthony of Bike Commute News and asked for some help.  “I’m a super short girl in need of a kid’s bike, can you point me in the right direction?”  Strangers helping strangers.  Lo and behold, a week later I had a new bike.

Bike riding is addictive.  My first attempt was funny, at best, and I made sure no one was around to actually see it.  Luckily, the saying “it’s just like riding a bike” really does apply to bikes.  It only took a few trips around my neighborhood to get comfortable again.  Now, I want to go fast and far.  I’m ready to go explore the remaining areas of Los Angeles that I’ve avoided simply because access was difficult.

I love riding, and I’m definitely looking forward to new adventures around Los Angeles by bike.

However, I realized yesterday how much I miss walking to work in the mornings.  I no longer say hello to the guys along my route, I don’t get to listen to my iPod on days when I really need a little music therapy, and sometimes a nice stroll through DTLA is just what the doctor ordered.

I have a lot of friends trying to figure out a work-life balance for their lives.  Well I’m now in search of a pedestrian-bike balance in mine.

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Growth of public transportation requires forward thinking and a little backpedaling.

On Sunday I ended up having a rather late brunch with a friend in DTLA.  Really, it was just an excuse for a little day drinking and socializing.  At one point during the conversation my friend made a comment to me that struck me as funny.  “Hey, I saw that advertisement for the TAP Card on the side of the bus the other day and thought of you.”  Now, if you’ve seen those ads, the quote on there says “it’s easy.”  But I knew what she meant, and I took no offense.  I get on my soapbox about certain issues related to public transportation or downtown living, as you may have already noticed.  So, I take pride in the fact that someone associates me with public transportation.

However, I had a moment where I thought, “really?  the TAP Card?  I really hate the TAP Card.”

But was my hatred warranted?  As it turns out, no. Continue reading

As the world turns.

Some of you may have noticed, and by that I’m referring specifically to the two people who asked me recently when my next post will be, that I was rather quiet this week.  I took an unintentional break from writing, because sometimes life gets in the way.

Summary of my week:

Work, figure out what’s wrong with Napoleon (arthritis in both back legs, awful), work, bicker with a friend, work, lose a friend, work, gain a couple of new friends, work, buy a bike, work, learn how to ride a bike again, work, nearly get hit by an SUV, work, contemplate the meaning of life, work, wage war and plan the final attack on some grain beetles that found their way into our flour in the cupboard (the final battle will take place on Sunday after days of research), work, try to spend time with friends, and finally work.

I’ll be back next week.  Upcoming posts will include my push for ending the current practice of allowing right turns on red in Los Angeles proper, the article posted by @LACityNerd about perceptions of LA transit, responding to questions about fear and safety walking around DTLA, and my transition from pedestrian to pedestrian/biker (and that bicycles not motorcycles).  From what I’m told I need to get a helmet, lights, locks, and maybe some tacos before I can start to really ride around the city.

Stay tuned…

Possibly the strangest thing I have encountered.

What I’ve come to realize over the last couple of weeks spending more time with Stink-Butt–Napoleon’s new name because I think he’s punishing me a little but I’ll call him SB for short–is that I am not the alpha.  In fact, I’m fairly sure SB listens to my roommate more than to me.  Though, she does get that look on her face that says “if you take one more step little dog, it will be your last.”  I would think twice, too.

About a week ago I took SB to the vet for a little checkup and was told that he might need knee surgery.  My poor pup.  So for now, we are trying some different methods to see whether surgery is absolutely necessary (and as a side-note, I will definitely find a way to get him the surgery if the vet tells me that’s what needs to happen so no one accuse me animal cruelty, please).

What does this mean exactly?  It means I’ve altered our daily routine to wake up an hour earlier so that we have more time for his walks.  I’m trying to teach him to stroll instead of doing his normal crazy dog thing.  This is the point I realized he is in control.  When he was healthier,  I would take him running.  Now I’ve learned I was keeping up with him as opposed to the reverse.  We’re working on this now, though not so successfully yet.

Anyway, I rolled out of bed a little later than I should have.  I had a bout of insomnia last night and ended up watching The Killing Fields.  Let me tell you, of all the movies to watch before sleep, The Killing Fields might be up there as worst idea ever.  However, if you haven’t seen it, it is a great move.  I loved Sam Waterston even before his Law and Order days.

SB and I left my building and jogged across the street.  I decided to try out a different route.  I should know better by now.  That’s when I saw this guy walking towards me heading somewhere with real determination.  I had never seen him in DTLA before.  He didn’t even seem to acknowledge the fact that SB and I were sharing the sidewalk with him.

Then all of a sudden, the man looked down at SB, got a huge smile on his face, dropped to the ground and started to wrestle with my dog.  I stood there for a moment extremely confused.  “Are you trying to make out with my dog?  You realize you are rolling around on the sidewalk with my dog, right?”

There was a lot of “oh, you are just the cutest” and the man putting his face in my dog’s to let SB lick him.

It didn’t last very long.  I put stop to it rather quickly.  I had two options then: freak out on him or act like everything was fine but it was best we get on our way.  I opted for the latter.

The man said, and still smiling, “I have one just like him at home.  They are the best dogs.”  He got a smile and nod followed by a quick retreat.  I did not stick around to chat.

Strangest thing I’ve encountered in downtown…so far.

Maybe my age is showing, but. . .

I really can’t say I did much this weekend.  I spent a lot of time catching up on my book that took me three months to finish.  I know that’s a bit sad, especially because it was a good book.  No really, it was.  Definitely not what I expected, and it left me a little unsatisfied.  I’m partial to books where no matter the troubles the protagonist is able to figure out a way to triumph over any obstacle.  Well, this book was not quite the positive ending I like, but it was a scary story.  And I am always a fan of scary stories.

Normally when I’m in a “I need some solitude to quiet my brain and find my balance again” mood, I try to stay close to home.  So the farthest I traveled was Pattern Bar on 9th and Main.  It was my first time there since it opened.  I will say it is one of the more beautiful bars in downtown.  The architecture is amazing, and I’m a sucker for windows that big.

However, I was surprised when I got a call late on Saturday to meet up with friends at another local watering hole to see that every single bar along Spring St. was overflowing with people.  “We are to capacity” was the statement of the night.  My thoughts vacillated between “it’s great to see so many people out in DTLA” to those of a slightly grumpy local maneuvering my way through the throng of people on the sidewalks while saying to myself “where are we headed as a neighborhood?”

Continue reading

When pedestrians drive.

As an initial disclaimer, side note, preamble or whatever you want to call this introduction, I would like to say that I am not going to make a habit of posting on the weekends.  I try to stay away from a computer screen most weekends, but I have made a solemn promise to myself to do as little as possible in order to recover from my schedule over the last few months.  Also, my day yesterday was a little insane, and so instead of waiting until Monday I thought I should go ahead and share.

Fade to Thursday afternoon when someone at work asked me if I could attend a meeting at 2 p.m. in Santa Ana the following day.  I would not need to actually say anything at the meeting, but show up, listen, and take notes.  In particular, I needed to listen to one very specific part of the meeting to prepare for the next week.  I know, this sounds exciting already.

Around 8 p.m. I thought, well my day is going to be a little crazy up until the time I need to leave for Santa Ana, so I better reserve LAX CarShare to make sure I make it on time.

Fast forward to 12:22 p.m. Friday.

12:22 p.m.  – Internal dialogue: “I’m starving.  I don’t have time to get lunch before I need to leave.  Hmm, I should actually walk to the carshare now.

12:45 p.m. – Internal dialogue: “Why am I still in this office?  Crap, I really need to go.  But my friend said traffic shouldn’t be that bad.”

1:12 p.m. – Internal dialogue:  “&%!@%$(#…why am I leaving so late.  I’m never going to make it.”

1:34 p.m. – Listening to the radio:  “Traffic on I-5 heading South looks bad today.  Normal

This was taken more than a year ago driving back from Santa Ana. You think I would have learned. Apparently, I'm slow.

Friday afternoon traffic and we are getting reports of an accident that is slowing the flow from Norwalk to Anaheim.”

1:35 p.m. – Internal dialogue:  “Huh, well I’m so happy to just now be reaching Norwalk.  I’m never going to make it.”

1:42 p.m. – Internal dialogue:  “Please, to whoever might be listening, please please please help me make it.  Can you possibly transport me to Santa Ana or magically make traffic disappear for just a few moments.”

1:47 p.m. – Internal dialogue: “I wonder whether a bike would be faster.  That reminds me, I wanted to watch that video on Flights vs. Bikes.  Note to self, watch the video when I get home.”

1:57 p.m. – Internal dialogue: “omgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomg.”

2:04 p.m. – Parking lot found, grab notepad and pen, and lock car.

2:05 p.m. – Sprinting from parking lot a block away to the eighth floor of the building.

2:08 p.m. – Room located, pausing for a second to catch my breath and wipe my brow, walk into the room.  The meeting has already started.

2:08:22 p.m. – OK, now let’s talk about X.  Internal dialogue: “I don’t know how I made it for this topic on the schedule, but thank you.  Talk about timing.  One more second and I would have missed this single reason I drove to Santa Ana in the first place.”

2:52 p.m. – Slowly walking to LAX CarShare to begin the long trek back to DTLA.

My return trip was much quicker, but I was mentally exhausted by then so the only thing left to do was finish the day and go out with my friends.  Suffice it to say, I’m not going very far this weekend, and I’m sticking to my basic mode of transportation:  walking.

Weekend Option: "…and that, my liege, is how we know the Earth to be banana shaped."

My theme of late has been things going on in downtown Los Angeles.  I spend about 70% of my time here, and I realize as I get older I like to stick closer to home.  Long trips out to Santa Monica feel like weekend affairs to me.  Though, I will say, I’ve been planning a trek to the mountains and/or desert for awhile.  My plans tend to change at the last minute, though, and my previously scheduled trips were all canceled due to unexpected events.  It’s unfortunate, I know.  I will not be thwarted much longer.  I will escape the city for more tranquil settings soon.

While I’m still here, there are always lots of fun things to do in town. Continue reading