Someone reminded me the other day that in spite of all the good reasons there are for riding a bike, the real reason we do it is because riding is fun.
I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve seen stressed-out, frustrated drivers completely losing it with one another over some slight while I’m out on a bike.
Recently, on Bundy Drive, I happened upon two luxury SUVs stopped in the middle of the street with the driver of the first vehicle out of his car, screaming at the driver of the second over something that occurred moments prior. This guy was really ticked off. If he had a gun, there likely would have been serious trouble. After 45 seconds or so, the screaming guy finished and they both went on their way. My reaction at that moment was to note how non-stressed I was; how completely opposite of that exchange I was feeling at that moment.
I managed to make the majority of my trips by bike, traveling anywhere from two to 11 miles per trip. I’ve been keeping track, and my riding has added up to 19 bike trips, totaling a little more than 121 miles in eight days. That’s 19 trips that I didn’t make in the car. That’s 19 times I was in a setting where I was happy. In addition to commuting to work, this included things like visiting friends, going to the doctor, meeting others for happy hour on Bike to Work Day, shopping, going surfing and meeting my wife for lunch a couple times.
Parking is one of the great benefits of riding to these places because one gets the best parking spots for free. For example, Costco in Culver City is notorious for having a full parking lot and being difficult to maneuver. However, there are some pretty nice bike racks just 50 feet from the front entrance to the store. Instead of spending several minutes circling the lot to find someone loading the car and getting into a showdown for the space with the other drivers doing the same thing, I just ride past them all with the cargo bike and go directly to the bike rack.
At Kaiser Permanente in West Los Angeles, the racks are located directly in front of the security office in their main parking structure. At the beach there are bike racks throughout, making it easy to ride up, lock up and go play. Both Kaiser and the beaches all charge for parking but not if one rides on a bike.
And of course, I didn’t pay for the six gallons of gas that 121 miles would have required by driving in my car. I saved at least $30 in parking, experienced less hassle, had more fun, got some exercise and made it so that there was one less car competing for parking or adding to traffic. What’s not fun about that.
[Note: This piece originally appeared as a blog entry on public radio station KCRW’s Shortcuts (kcrw.com/shortcuts).]
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: email@example.com and visit their blog:ccbike.org.