Putting the “I” In Bike

It was way back in August when I first started attempting timelapsifications of my morning and evening bike commutes and uploading them to YouTube. My main motivation was simple: to counter the festering perception that bicycling in Los Angeles is an unsafe practice. So far so good.

Fast forward to a couple days ago when I get an email notification of a comment to this video of my morning commute I posted to YouTube back on August 15:

The comment reads: “I like how you paced that Lexus at :36. Shows you how slows cars can be. But that’s a big commute, why don’t you just live closer to work or work closer to home? I would hate a 1 hour commute in ANY form of transportation.”

My response was basically to say that I love where I live and I enjoy where I work and bicycling between the two is a joy so I see no need to change either. But since making that reply I’ve mulled the question and confess I find the commenter’s position to be… let’s go diplomatic and call it a “quaint.” The person’s implication is that homes and jobs are pretty much things you can exchange as if life was one giant fully stocked drive-through convenience store, with a very liberal return policy.

Sure, I understand and respect that one person’s hour-long commute is another’s nightmare, and I also understand that we all have our limits. For example, I’d probably draw the line at a bike commute of more than 20-miles each way. Not that I wouldn’t do that, but there’d definitely be some alternating vehicular action involved as I just wouldn’t do it e-v-e-r-y work day like I’m attempting to do this year.

But there’s more to it:

  • There’s the fact that the 30-mile roundtrips I make allow me to keep my weight at a comfortable 215-220, even though I am long past the junkfood-free days of meticulous and methodical calorie counting and portion control that allowed me to drop from 263 pounds to 208 over the course of the first six months of 2006.
  • Further on the fitness tip, my biking regimen has put the $70 a month I was literally giving away to the downtown YMCA for my unused membership back into my pocket. The streets of Los Angeles are my health club.
  • And since we’re talking money howsabout the $1,000-plus I saved on gas in 2008?
  • Not only that but as an alternate commuter my office building’s transportation program subsidizes me to the tune of about $30 a month.
  • I’ve hammered this aspect home many times before, but one thing you can’t put a pricetag on is the street-level awareness one gets from pedaling through the varied communties that make up this town. You have no choice but to acknowledge and absorb what’s happened or happening around you. And while not everyday yields up an exciting new discovery, at my commuter cyclist’s pace well outside the four-wheeled box I strengthen a connection between me and my city that is priceless.

Even with all those pluses, it may still add up to one big minus to those who can’t fathom having to travel such a distance and timeframe, much less do it by bike — and I can see there POV. Shame they can’t  or won’t see mine.