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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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.