But that has not been a lot lately.
My job has me traveling all over LA County and LA-OC Metropolitan area every single day. Lancaster, Ojai, Tehachapi, the Third Street Promenade, Broadway in Downtown LA, Downtown Long Beach, Artesia. I probably take the car 99.9% of the time nowadays now that I'm focused on singular projects in Orange County cities, compared to about 70-80% in previous years with lots of projects within a train/bike ride away.
I like biking, but in the very few times I have a close job, I often have to get up really early even if the job is relatively close (think Compton to Downtown LA). Uncomfortably early. Like drag myself up a 4:30 AM early, which sounds awesome at 10 PM at night and when I'm wide awake. But after having woken up twice between 12 AM and 4 AM to help feed the baby, and still seeing the wife struggle, fuck that noise. Gotta help wifey out, gotta thesis to write, gotta sleep, so my logic goes...
My jobs generally last all day, or at least I have to be at a place late, in the darkness. Do I really want to do this?
Having this kind of schedule combined with the wildly varied distances, and having mixed up my social circles so wildly in five years, has allowed me to see how unreliable and inconvenient bike commuting in LA can be.
How can biking be unreliable and inconvenient?
- Even as a Angeleno who has lived here almost my entire life and travels quite a bit, I don't know the nuances of bike routes/infrastructure in every neighborhood. On streets I don't know about, I've been stuck on some very bike unfriendly streets. COUGH Sepulveda en route to and from LAX COUGH.
- To be safe in neighborhoods I don't know, I usually just end up on the big avenues. But half the time that means battling for lane space/hoping I don't get hit either on the street or biking really slow on sidewalks.
- Map apps on the phones give you some really complicated directions. I do map out where I have to go, and now the phone can tell me, but I have to listen really hard to her voice. Even for a 13-mile trip from the casa to LAX by bike is complicated. I know that I can take a street like Compton Blvd/Redondo Beach Blvd or Rosecrans till I hit Sepulveda, but frankly I'm pretty scared of riding Sepulveda at the LAX area because of the density of traffic.
- Numerous mechanical problems with the bike. I've had numerous mechanical problems from a flat tire, to the chain falling off, when I needed to be on time for a job. It's a stark comparison to the car which :knock on wood: needs scheduled maintenance. A few solutions for this: that little piece of bike infrastructure that I blogged about, and/or Taxi Service for biking (ala UberPedal) to bail your freeloading biker ass out of there.
- For those who need to haul lots of cargo around. I used to know a guy who biked with lots and lots of trailers. He made biking with cargo work in his own way; he was very motivated to show the world all the things he could do without a car and biking. These days I'm around a lot of blue-collar-ish people with either families and/or work tools. They make good use of either mini-vans or pick-up trucks. Suggesting a bike would not make sense for them and their schedules taking them various places either.
- Too Far of a Commute. This is probably the main thing. People just come from all over based on housing that they can afford. A lot of people who come from my background are not going to want to live in Compton, but would rather tough out a commute from one of the Valleys.