Time Machine: Holy Shit Look What I Found!

Way back in October 2001, the boss of where I worked at that time implemented a program wherein during the regularly scheduled monthly meetings he wanted his employees to give presentations. The topics could be about pretty much anything, so I was one of the few to actually volunteer for a time slot and then got to work putting my thoughts down in a paper I titled “Bicycling For Fun & Profit,” the first — and incomplete — draft of the narrative which I just accidentally stumbled on whilst diving around the archives on my back-up hardrive..

Some of it seems so quaint now: Gas at $1.50 a gallon. Me resolving to bike 1,001 miles in 2001. Pretty much the total lack of any so-called bike culture (at least in its current and evolving form) worth mentioning.

I remember boiling a lot of the info down into a bulleted, Powerpoint-style presentation and probably have that file somewhere, but anyway… if it’s your bag or interest, a glimpse of me prepping to preach the power of the pedal from the wayback is on the other side of the jump (replete with a photo of my old Raleigh mountain bike — still sporting a number from what looks to be an LA Marathon ride –  at rest on the L.A. River Bikeway around Atwater Village).

Bicycling For Fun And Profit

Overview: The bicycle provides not only an excellent form of exercise, but its use as a commuting alternative can make it a recreational tool that benefits your health, community and wallet.

My first bike – Summer 1972
When I was a kid, my first bike represented more than just being a brand new toy. My first bike was a Huffy Moon Buggy that was purple with a white vinyl banana seat, a, tiny front tire and a big wide slick rear tire which was great for skidding. It had one speed and tall ape-hanger handle bars and I loved it. But I also loved it because it was a new mode of transportation that gave me new-found freedom and an expansion of boundaries. Practically overnight my neighborhood grew by leaps and bounds. Suddenly I was taking my bike to the store, to the park, to school and beyond. It was a tool of discovery and of magic that broadened my horizons.

The bicycle also became a tool with which to make money. In 1977 I became a paperboy for the dearly departed Herald Examiner, and my bike became something I didn’t just ride for fun, but something I relied on. I learned how to change my own flat tires and replace chains, basically keep the bike in working order so that I could do my job.

Of course, once high school came on, I grew up and away from bikes as quickly as possible, and though I’ve owned a number of bikes as an adult and commuted on them sporadically, it was only 10 years ago that I started mountainbiking regularly and only just five years or so ago when I reawakened my inner childlike thrill with them and began putting my that joy of riding to use as fuel for alternative commuting.

And that’s part of what I’m going to talk about today – but not just commuting to work by bike, because I know there are some people here who either don’t know how to ride, don’t have a bike, flat out don’t want ride, or are physically unable to ride. Never fear, I’ve got a way to get you to the Zoo without your car, too.

But first, let’s talk about biking for fun, by letting me tell you about several on- and off-street bikeways and organized bike rides around the area.

Bikeways (off street)
1. Sepulveda Basin bikepath (around the recreation area near the intersection of the 405 and 101 freeways)
2. Los Angeles River Bikeway (Burbank to downtown)
3. San Gabriel River Bikeway (Duarte to Seal Beach)
4. Santa Ana River Bikeway (Yorba Linda to Costa Mesa/Newport)
5. Beach bikepath (Temescal Canyon to Redondo Beach
6. Ballona Creek Bikeway (Culver City to Marina Del Rey)

Bike paths (on street)
1. Riverside Drive
2. Venice Boulevard

Bike Rides
Annual L.A. Marathon Bike Tour (21 miles – March)
City of Angels Fun Ride (27 miles – April)
L.A. River Ride (18 miles – May)
Rosarito-Ensenada Fun Ride (50 miles, twice a year, April and September)

Why I commute
When I used to live in Encino and work in mid-Wilshire, back in 1997, there were times where it could take me upwards of 90 minutes to get to work some mornings by car. And an hour to get home. So one night, I jumped on the Internet and started looking for information to help me build a noncar commuting path. I found out more about the Metrolink system. The MTA subway system and buslines, as well as bike policies for all those modes.

The result was that I would bike seven miles from Encino to the Northridge Metrolink train station, take the train and my bike into Union Station downtown, and then either bike or take the Redline subway to my job at Wilshire and Western.

Even though it sounds like a long haul, the total time it took rivaled what it would take me to get there by car, plus I had the chance to read or relax on the trains and subways. There was no freeway stress, no wear and tear on my vehicle. I wasn’t adding to the overall emissions output.

In essence, I was a global cooler in the vast Los Angeles sea of global warmers.

My present commute is a breeze thanks to a seemingly trivial thing: bike racks. In the last couple years, a revolution has taken place on the city buses as the MTA has added bike racks to the front of many of its most popular lines, thus enabling my current bike/bus commute to be almost second-nature.

Here’s what I do: I catch the 750 bus on Ventura Boulevard in Sherman Oaks, and in 20 minutes or so I’m at the Universal City Redline station. From there, I make my way over to Riverside Drive and travel the on-street bike path to Victory where I then enter the L.A. River Bike Path, come up over the 5 freeway overpass and into the Zoo. Five miles on the bus, about seven on the bike.

I try to do this a minimum of once a week. On days where I want to commute and can’t, I actually miss not being able to.

In 2000 I put 881 miles on my bicycles odomoter, the majority of that was recreational riding. One of my New Year’s resolutions for this year was to ride my bike, via commuting and recreational riding, a total of 1,001 miles.  To date for 2001, I have put 2,367 – just less than half of which is a result of commuting.

To give you an idea of what that translates into money, let’s say I’ve commuted  by bike1,000 miles this year. If those miles were driven in a vehicle for reimbursible business use, I’d have approximately $330 dollars coming my way.

But let’s look at it another way. Roundtrip from home to work for me is about 24 miles – roughly one gallon of gas. 1,000/24 x a gallon of gas, say $1.50. that’s $61.

Now those amounts might seem insignificant to you. What the hell, $61 bucks over 9 months is nothing, right?

Or is it? Because from another point of view, I take sincere, deep and personal satisfaction in knowing that I’ve kept 41.5 gallons of gas out of my tank.

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Will Campbell arrived in town via the maternity ward at Good Sam Hospital way back in OneNineSixFour and has never stopped calling Los Angeles home. Presently he lives in Silver Lake with his wife Susan, their cat Rocky, dogs Terra and Hazel, and a red-eared slider turtle named Mater. Blogging since 2001, Will's web endeavors extend back to 1995 with laonstage.com, a comprehensive theater site that was well received but ever-short on capital (or a business model). The pinnacle of his online success (which speaks volumes) arrived in 1997, when much to his surprise, a hobby site he'd built called VisuaL.A. was named "best website" in Los Angeles magazine's annual "Best of L.A." issue. He enjoys experiencing (and writing about) pretty much anything creative, explorational and/or adventurous, loves his ebike, is a better tennis player than he is horr golfer, and a lover of all creatures great and small -- emphasis on "all."