Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Bike Commuting? Lost your license?

Bike commuting in Los Angeles isn't the easiest thing to do. Beyond the limitations of the car-centric infrastructure, there's a great cultural bias against bikes. I remember when I first started commuting by bike, people would say to me with a knowing smile, "So you got a DUI? I feel you man."

When I tried to explain that I was doing it by choice, they'd either think I was trying to play off the DUI or that I was crazy. Often when I shoot events or work for some clients they will offer to validate my parking. I tell them I'm coming by bike, they ask me if I mean my motorcycle. When I tell them, "No, a bicycle," there's a strange silence followed with, " You mean the one with pedals?"

Yes, the one with pedals.

If you listen carefully at most meetings, parties or gatherings of more than three people, the first five minutes are usually devoted to parking woes and traffic problems. No joke. The ebb and flow of traffic is so integrated into our daily lives that it has become part of our language.

For example, few things strike such an emotional chord to most Angelenos as the three numbers 405.

405. Say it. Bring it up at any party and it will illicit looks of scorn. If you're late to class, a meeting, wedding, funneral or even the birth of your own firstborn, all you have to say is, "405" and all will be forgiven.

It is no wonder then that when I explain I arrived by bicycle I get such incredulous looks, as if to say, "Bikes? They have those here?"

Yes they do.

When I first decided to try commuting by bike I relied heavily on the internet as I had no one to model myself after, no one to ask what a good bike for commuting was? how do you put on a rack? how do you pronounce pannier? what is a pannier?

So for those of you that would like to brave the big bad world of bike commuting, I offer you these links to get you started and to find a community of other strange souls.

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