Wheels Keep On Spinnin' Round

A spectrum of people partook in the combination of business and pleasure - that is, the business of work and the pleasure of biking - on Thursday, May 14 across the greater Los Angeles area. Enthused Angelinos celebrated the 15th annual "Bike to Work Day" when they ditched their cars and donned their helmets, pumped their tires, hopped on their bicycles and rode to work.

Along the way, cyclists enjoyed perks of their non-carbon commute with stops at local energizer stations, where people chatted about their bikes and commute while perusing the refreshment table. Sponsored by local organizations like the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition and Los Angeles County Transit, the energizer stations were positioned at 40 destinations around Los Angeles.

Santa Monica City Hall hosted one of the biggest booths from the eight other stations in that area, where people like Dr. Michael Cahn expressed his advocacy for cycling. Cahn, who works as a Board of Director for the LACBC said that the "pit stops are a way of honoring the cyclists, giving them a few goodies and apologizing for the poor services they received for the rest of the year. It's a way of concentrating the effort and getting everybody together."

To name a few, cities like San Francisco, Portland, Austin and New York have also participated in some kind of National Bike to Work Day to promote and celebrate the bicycle as a viable mode of transportation.

Other energizer stops around Santa Monica included R.E.I. and Helen's Cycles where mini Cliff bars and pastries were flowing into the hands of cyclists for their carb replenishment. Brad Edwards, an employee at Helen's Cycles, was stationed at a booth outside the store where "swag" like $5 off coupons to Helen's, portable cycling patch kits, and Metro bike maps that showed designated bike routes around Los Angeles were handed out.

Cyclists like Kim Yu, a UCLA grad student who has been cycling for three years was one of the many who stopped to freshen up at the Santa Monica City Hall energizer station before her seven mile trek to work. Yu stated, "I think it's great for people who normally ride and they feel supported and feel like there is advocacy for them. It is also great advertising for people who are thinking about biking but maybe don't know how to go about it."

Showing admiration for the Los Angeles Metro (who co-hosted many of the bike pit stops), Edwards said, "This is the first year we have worked with Los Angeles County Metro on their program and they have been helping all week with daily events."

Metro offered free rides to all bicyclists on Metro buses and trains throughout Los Angeles County and also a chance to win prizes such as a vacation to Utah and a hybrid electric bike for those who pledged to bike to work.

Metro Board member and Los Angeles City Councilmember, Jose Huizar, even helped kick-start bike to work week on Monday, May 11 when he introduced cartoon character, Bart Simpson. Arriving on a Metro bus for a bike tune up at Olvera Street in Downtown Los Angeles, even this alternative transit cartoon character (since he's always on his skateboard) showed his fondness for cycling.

With 350 miles of bike lanes and paths around town, it seems our city is warming up to the biking community, despite its inescapable gridlock and congestion. In fact, Santa Monica has done an excellent job at cycling sustainability after it was recently awarded the Bronze for Bicycle Friendliness by the League of American Bicyclists. With close to 16 miles of bike lanes, 19 miles of bike routes and a 3-mile beach bike path, Santa Monica has pedaled its way to the forefront for its commitment to bicycling.

Reasons behind this cycling surge range from high gas prices, people tired of being stuck in traffic, or those who are merely trying to ditch their sedentary lifestyle.

Commenting on this surge Edwards stated, "I think that sometimes people are intimidated and fearful of maybe riding to work, especially in traffic, like people who don't think they are physically able to do it. However, when someone takes a chance and does it, they are pleasantly surprised and it becomes addicting."

Check out photos from the event by clicking HERE