Bike Corral in downtown Redondo Beach
I took a ride last Sunday, which is not unusual for a guy who likes bicycles and rides them. The thing is, the ride seemed unusual to those folks who like bicycles but don’t ride them–the now-well-documented sixty-percenters, that proportion of the US population that would love to ride bikes more but are afraid of traffic, or sweat, or having to wear funny clothes, or whatever.
I rode from Bicycle Fixation HQ in the Miracle Mile (around LACMA), all the way down Crenshaw Boulevard to past PCH, up into Rolling Hills Estates for a modest workout, down to the beachside bikepath, and thence home (with a lunch stop of course) for a total of fifty miles…with some hills.
I mention all this because you still hear people say that bikes “just arent’t practical” for American cities because of the distances involved.
Well, I say crap. Because I range over half the county on my bike, week after week, month after month, without spandex, and riding a 45-year-old retired Italian racing bike fitted out with fenders, rack, and a fixed-gear. Let’s set the record straight:
- I am a skinny old man with thick glasses.
- I have never been a racer—bike, foot, or otherwise. In fact, although I am “strong” in comparison to a typically self-debilitated American of today, compared to a real athlete, even the most anonymous domestique for any unknown pro team, I am just scenery.
- I never wear racing kit, donning instead my own brand of dressy gabardine knickers, and wool knit T-shirts and sweaters, which look quite elegant off the bike. And regular shoes.
It’s just not that hard! As aficionados of the Pigeon know well, you don’t need a racing bike or sausage casings repurposed as bike clothing to ride around the city, not for long distances such as I enjoy, nor for the shorter ones most urban utility riders would ride if they did ride. A glance at some of the photos I took at the last CicLAvia can prove that to you.
As can some of the the sights I encountered on my Sunday jaunt, which included:
- A peloton of paraplegics on handcycles, riding the beachside path.
- The entire male portion of an Orthodox Jewish family—portly, long-bearded paterfamilias and a string of rambunctious kids—riding along the Ballona Creek bike path.
- The bike corral in the photo above, right in the middle of Redondo Beach’s bistro and coffeehouse district off the beach, and meant for locals (since the spandex crowd bans those heavy bike locks from their kit).
- The trouble I had finding bike parking when I stopped for lunch in Playa del Rey—not because there wasn’t any, but because the numerous bike racks were already occupied.
After all, even in the US, many car trips–over 40%!–are less than two miles long. Even if you can barely manage to wobble along at 10mph, two miles will take you only twelve minutes. And anybody, on any bike, if they can move at all, can achieve that speed.
So give it a try. It’s cheap, it’s fun, it’s good for your physical and mental health…and it’s easy. And any bike will do. Bring your old one in to the Pigeon for a tune-up, and get going. Or treat yourself to a new one, fancy if you like, cheap if you prefer. The Pigeon’s got them all.
You don’t have to join the Navy to see the world. Just get on a bike and ride!