Tuesday, November 6, 2007


Is going car-less in Los Angeles a sign of rebellion? I am not sure. But it is definitely disruptive to some people. Nearly every time I ride my bike or scooter to a social event, be it drinks at a bar or a party in Hollywood, my friends look on with concern and often ask if I want a ride home. At first I didn't care. Also, my mother and friends often offer to let me borrow their cars when they leave town for long periods. (To be fair, I have said "yes" a few times, but often the car just sits in front of my apartment unused.) The frequency and consistency of such offers has me wondering if my car-less status disrupts the status quo of happily existing in the Los Angeles area.*

I am sure that some of these generous gestures stem from concern from my friends and family about the danger of riding a bicycle in the single largest car-culture in the country. (Just to settle this right away, I was injured repeatedly during my first year of riding in Los Angeles. One accident involving a metro rapid bus, and most other mishaps had to do with clip-less pedal problems or flat-out stupidity on my part.) And I also gather that many people don't want to "put me out" and "force me to ride," as though it were a burden for me to exercise to get around town. Yes, riding a bike is exercise, and sometimes it is even dirty. I try to take care of this minor problem by carrying an extra clean shirt or by cleaning up before officially engaging in social activities.

I don't need to spend an entire post telling you, my currently non-existent readers, why I love living car-less in Los Angeles. Nor do I feel compelled to discuss the reasons why I think more people should ride bikes in this town. That isn't my point, rather, I just wanted to officially say "hello."

*Full disclosure: I was a car owner in Southern California for 8 years. Six of those years were spent living in the LA area.


Nicholas Morera said...

Just found this blog via your Musicology Matters blog. As a fellow car-less, avid bike rider living in Southern California (Orange County in my case), I've felt similar looks of peculiarity from friends and family.
Southern California is probably the most unfriendly area to bikers (and pedestrians for that matter!) I've ever been to; a situation I find constantly frustrating.

KG said...

In my experience, Orange County is just as rough. Last July I rode through there along PCH to attend my high school reunion (no joke) and I found the scariest riding to be just south of Long Beach. It's pretty ironic that Southern California has such ideal weather for cyclists but feels so alien to all of us who choose to go car-less.