When I moved to Los Angeles in November of last year without a car I knew I was in for an adventure. LA is the 2nd largest city in the country with 3.8 million people, it is spread out in all kinds of weird ways, and the public transport system is less than user friendly. Yet, no car, no AC, no problem.
The reality is that being car-less in LA has not stopped me. If anything, it has given me more ownership over this city and has shown me that I have what it takes to survive, live, work, and have a blast anywhere, no matter how large or small the environment.
You see, what was intimidating at first quickly became an adventure. I’ve gone to work, dates, networking events, house parties, sightseeing escapades, and meetings in Culver City, Pasadena, Boyle Heights, West Hollywood, Hollywood, Downtown, Venice, and anywhere in between and beyond. I’ve made it there and back mostly thanks to my 2-wheeled best friend and LA’s bus and rail system. Of course, I have to thank a few friends for lending me their cars during extreme situations. Good looking out, guys.
Being a two-wheeled young professional in a high-energy, high-competition city has shown me I have the grit to succeed no matter what. Every spin of my bicycle wheels is validation and every drop of sweat motivation. To me, making the streets of LA my mistresses means that I will not be stopped by life’s mere inconveniences. Let’s choose to see that on the flip side of inconvenience lies adventure.
On a less profound note, being a bike-first Angeleno means I get more exercise than some of my 4-wheeled counter parts. I’m not in top shape by any means, but biking anywhere from 3 to 11 miles on the reg has to be better than sitting behind a wheel screaming profanities while stuck in LA’s hellish traffic.
And folks, LA has hills, lots of them.
“But Juan,” you might ask, “are you kicking as much butt as you would be if you had a car?”. Don’t fret, reader, because I am. Right now, for example, I am writing this blog on my iPhone while enjoying a pleasant, stress free ride on the Silver Line from Cal State LA to downtown LA. This business trip cost me less than $3.50 and I was able to write while others are stuck behind the wheel during LA rush hour.
Before I wrap this up I want to give some advice to anyone thinking about living the #bikeLA lifestyle:
LA’s metro system is better than you think, don’t be scared, go explore. Beware, elevators might or might not smell like urine.
Nobody likes to hang out w sweaty people, so ride in a beat up t-shirt, and bring a change of clothes, deodorant, and cologne - travel size toiletries rock.
Build in time into your schedule to address late buses and so that you can clean yourself up before a date or meeting. Meaning, be efficient in how you handle your business.
Before you leave the house make sure you have the keys for your U-lock or whatever you use to keep your bike safe. Trusting your bike to the streets of LA is fool’s play.
Enjoy the scenery and contrast within and between neighborhoods across Los Angeles. Bask, my friend, bask.
What’s the point of all this, you ask? Don’t be scared, is the point. Don’t let the lack of luxury, in my case a vehicle, stop you from hunting down your own path to success.
Instead, allow yourself to be put in seemingly complicated situations and to be forced to find solutions. Allow yourself to use sweat as the fuel that gets you from point A to point B. More importantly, push yourself to take control over an environment that is not your own by exploring and understanding it.
Realize that everything and anything should be an adventure. Understand that we have the power to frame a situation in whichever way we want to. To some, being vehicularly-challenged in Los Angeles is a nightmare. To me it is a tale of adventure where I am the protagonist pursuing not a damsel in distress but my own definition of success.