My name is Steven Herbert and I’m the chief engineer at KCRW. For nearly two years, I’ve been a low-level bicycle advocate, encouraging my friends and co-workers to consider cycling as a method of commuting. I’ve been riding to work for the past three years, originally as a way to sneak in some bike time while training for triathlons but it’s morphed into something unexpected.
Now, I actually prefer to ride my bike the six miles from Santa Monica to my home – me, the person who the day he turned 16 had his mother take him to the DMV to get his drivers license. Me, the person who drove everywhere and has owned as many as five cars simultaneously. Me, who when I later had a home in Cerritos, used two cars and the Green Line to commute. Car one was to drive the three miles to the Norwalk Green Line station. Car two was to drive from the Aviation station to KCRW. Do you fit any of those categories?
But in the 32 years since I received my driver’s license, the Westside has grown more crowded, the streets are at capacity and it only takes one medium-size freeway incident or one presidential visit to cause the spillover onto the streets to cause gridlock. On a bad day, it can take 50 minutes to drive the six miles home by car. In the same traffic conditions, I can be home in under 30 minutes on the bike. There’s something else though. There’s the interaction with the environment, the neighborhoods and the folks out walking or jogging that you don’t get when you are in your car. I probably say “Good morning” to more than a half-dozen people crossing streets or to others riding as I make my trek.
I was born in Santa Monica, raised on the Westside and yet there are so many streets I had not encountered prior to commuting by bike.
Commuting by bike is fun and I often feel like I’m missing out when I drive to work now. And do you know what, it’s easier than you think. I suggest starting out slow; run a basic errand in your neighborhood. Discover a new route to things you visit regularly: the dry cleaners, drug store or pet store. After a while, you may find what I did: Your car isn’t as necessary to daily life as you thought it was. Maybe, just maybe, you’ll try to commute to work occasionally. Once a month perhaps, maybe even once a week.
Family ride update: CCBC’s November family ride will be cancelled. Expect a fun holiday ride in December.
Bike Safe, Bike Smart! is a weekly column to promote responsible cycling by providing information, education and advice about riding. It’s written by members of the Culver City Bicycle Coalition (CCBC), a local chapter of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition. Join them for their family bike ride the last Sunday of every month. For more information and to submit questions, write: firstname.lastname@example.org and visit ccbike.org.