My First Bike
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by Josh Lee
2015 Spectator Ron - The Spectator All Rights Reserved
        This past week I got a great job at one of the top advertising agencies in the United States. So you would think that I would go out and buy a car and maybe some new work clothes or something now that I've officially put my college days behind me.
        But I already have a new car and I worked retail through school so I've already got the "work" clothes - but there's no dress code at my new company anyway. In fact, wandering around the offices I wondered if anyone would actually notice or care if you didn't wear anything at all.
         So instead of all that, I bought my first bike. And no, this isn't like a first grade "My First Bike" report. It's also not a report on the typical little Southern Californian beach cruiser, I went for an awesome hybrid road and trail bike.
        But, wait, I live in Los Angeles. Cars rule all and bikers get killed here. So why on earth would I want one? Well, I live in Santa Monica, a little city within the monster that is Los Angeles, and shall we say that it's a little more forgiving. I also now work all of two miles from home, and I have a feeling sometimes it may be faster to hop on a bike than jump into the truck.
         I've had my bike for all of one day now and I'm absolutely tickled by it. This afternoon I biked ten miles round trip from my apartment in Santa Monica down to Venice along the miles of sandy beach. It was easily the most relaxing thing I've done in months. It actually slipped my mind that I was getting exercise, not polluting the environment, and still having a completely carefree joyride.
         As I rode down the block to 7-Eleven to get a slurpee this evening (simply because I could) I started to feel giddy. I felt complete freedom to come and go as I please. I felt as though I could conquer the world. The same freedom that I imagine most teens feel when they get their license and their first car.
        And then I got to thinking about Los Angeles as a whole. Imagine if we had dedicated bike lanes and paths carved out through our city. The fact of the matter is that in Los Angeles you need a car. It's mainly due to the sheer lack of efficient and useful public transportation and that's usually where the fingers start pointing when the topic of vehicle congestion makes its rounds.
        But it suddenly dawned on me this evening that maybe the lack of public transportation isn't the only thing keeping Los Angeles and its sub-municipalities congested.
         San Francisco, Seattle on the west coast and many other cities around the world rely heavily on cycling for everyday transportation. In San Francisco, Bay Area Bike Share pick up and drop off stations have been popping up everywhere around the city from Market to the Financial District to Chinatown and beyond. And in a city where parking is few and far between (not to mention far too expensive), Bay Area Bike Share has aided MUNI in getting people around the city quickly, efficiently, and all for less than ten dollars a day.
        What if Santa Monica piloted such a program? Or encouraged its residents to get bikes? What if we got a tax break for owning and using a bicycle? How many cars could we take off our roads if people started biking instead of driving? What if hotels here were like hotels in Amsterdam where it's commonplace to visit the concierge desk and rent a bicycle for the day?
        Okay, so let's be real, Angelenos love their cars too much. I'm afraid I'm guilty of taking pleasure in driving. And in Los Angeles it is unrealistic for most people to rely on bike transportation to get everywhere. But what if just for running to Whole Foods or the Promenade or the beach we took two wheels and our legs instead of four and a combustion engine?
        I suppose I shall see what that would really be like as I get ready to get out on the road and into a routine of biking in the city of cars!