Why You Ride: Bicycle Edition – doing serious advocacy work with serious style

During Bike Week LA, we collected nominations for the Golden Pedal Awards, Metro’s annual competition for great stories about bicycling. We’re featuring these stories in a Why You Ride series – because for many Angelenos, every week is Bike Week!

Maria Sipin was nominated by her sister Andrea for maintaining an impeccable standard of style on her 10-mile bicycle commute to and from the Metrolink station every day — “Not only does she ride in her chambray dress and ballet flats with ease, but she makes helmet hair disappear instantly,” Andrea told us.

We’ve always been impressed by Maria’s ability to integrate her passion for bicycling — she is a certified League Cycling Instructor and a bicycle advocate with the Pomona Valley Bicycle Coalition — with her work as a disease prevention specialist at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA), where she encourages youth to bicycle for health and independence.

Name: Maria Sipin
Start: Walnut
End: Hollywood
Distance: 5 miles bicycling +  Metrolink + Metro (one way)
Time: 1 hour (including time on the train)

Maria poses with her bike at Venice Beach.

Maria and her hybrid city bicycle at CicLAvia to the Sea in April.

Maria tells us more about her bike advocacy (and shares some fashion tips with us — we can always use those at Metro) after the jump. Continue reading

Why You Ride: Bicycle Edition – a bicyclist who helps build bike lanes

During Bike Week LA, we collected nominations for the Golden Pedal Awards, Metro’s annual competition for great stories about bicycling. We’re featuring these stories in a weekly 'Why You Ride' series – because for many Angelenos, every week is Bike Week!

Jon Overman was nominated for a Golden Pedal Award by LADOT colleague Rick Gutierrez for his work on a successful $2.4-million grant proposal to build 43 miles of bike lanes in Los Angeles. Rick wrote: “Not only does Jon commute to UCLA and downtown LA by bike or bike and transit every day, he is working to make sure all Angelenos can safely commute by bike.”

Name: Jon Overman
Start: Venice
End: UCLA and downtown LA
Distance: 7 miles (UCLA), 15 miles (downtown LA)
Time: 35 minutes (UCLA), 75 minutes (downtown LA)

Jon stands with his commuter bicycle. He is wearing a white helmet. His bike has a front bakset that he uses the carry a backpack.

Jon and his commuter bike. He originally built it for his wife and thoughtfully included a front rack and internal hub gear. Nice helmet! Photo courtesy of Jon Overman.

Jon graduated from UCLA with his master’s in public policy earlier this summer. Outreach and design phases of the bikeways that he helped secure funding for will begin to appear soon — keep an eye out!

After the jump, Jon shares his bike commute tips with us.

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Why You Ride: Bicycle Edition – turning a two hour car commute into a five min bike ride

During Bike Week LA, we collected nominations for the Golden Pedal Awards, Metro’s annual competition for great stories about bicycling. We’re featuring these stories in a weekly Why You Ride series – because for many Angelenos, every week is Bike Week!

Alan Kwan’s commute to work was 25 miles long and took anywhere from 35 to 120 minutes driving alone. Fed up, he decided to move down the street from his office. Now he bikes to work in five minutes or less every morning.

Start: Santa Monica
End: Santa Monica
Distance: 1 mile (one way)
Time: 5 minutes (one way)

Alan holding his fixed gear bicycle over his head.

Alan holds his fixed gear bike triumphantly after cutting his commute down to five minutes. The front and back lights recharge via USB. Note the very important brakes! Photo courtesy of Alan Kwan.

After the jump, Alan tells us why he bikes and shares tips on how to get your employer to chip in for bicycle perks.

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Why You Ride: Bicycle Edition – riding down the Imperial Highway

During Bike Week LA, we collected nominations for the Golden Pedal Awards, Metro’s annual competition for great stories about bicycling. We’re featuring these stories in a weekly Why You Ride series – because for many Angelenos, every week is Bike Week!

Breeanna Taylor bikes 12 miles down the Imperial Highway to get to work.

Name: Breeanna Taylor
Start: Downey
End: La Habra
Distance: 12 miles (one way)
Time: 90 minutes (one way)

Breeanna with her mountain bike, helmet, and sunglasses getting ready to bike to work. Photo courtesy of Breeanna Taylor.

Breeanna with her mountain bike, helmet, and sunglasses, ready to bike to work. Photo courtesy of Breeanna Taylor.

She gives us her tips on bicycling to work and tells us about handling “steep hills and scary car situations” in an interview after the jump. Continue reading

Why You Ride: Bicycle Edition – NASA “bike train engineer” conducts “bike train” to JPL

During Bike Week LA, we collected nominations for the Golden Pedal Awards, Metro’s annual competition for great stories about bicycling. We’re featuring these stories in a weekly Why You Ride series – because for many Angelenos, every week is Bike Week!

Our next Golden Pedal Award goes to Charles Dandino, unofficial “bike train engineer” at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). Charles was nominated by colleague Tushar Thrivikraman for spearheading their weekly “bike train” – a group ride to work that stops to pick up fellow JPL employees on the way. With Charles at the helm of the train, they’ve hit their time points nearly every week for the last nine months, rain or shine. (Hey Charles, have you ever thought about working for a transit agency?)

Name: Charles Dandino
Start: Silver Lake
End: Pasadena
Distance: 15 miles
Time: 75 minutes

Charles on his bicycle. Photo courtesy of Charles Dandino.

Charles, resident “bike train engineer” for NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Photo courtesy of Charles Dandino.

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Why You Ride: Bicycle Edition – riding fearlessly through Commerce

During Bike Week LA, we collected nominations for the Golden Pedal Awards, Metro’s annual competition for great stories about bicycling. We’re featuring these stories in a weekly Why You Ride series – because for many Angelenos, every week is Bike Week.

Vincent Baltierra, Sr., leaves his house at 5:15 every morning, pedaling his bicycle down Washington Boulevard alongside the hundreds of trucks hauling containers between the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and the Union Pacific and BNSF rail yards. He clocks in before 6 a.m. at City of Commerce City Hall, where he works as a street maintenance helper. He’s biked to work this way for 10 years.

“Although Mr. Baltierra is 72 years old,” wrote Rebecca-Lee Longoria, City of Commerce employee transportation coordinator, “cold, rainy, [or] hot weather, not to mention dangerous traffic conditions, do not prevent him from riding his bicycle to work.”

Name: Vincent Baltierra, Sr.
Start: City of Commerce
End: City of Commerce
Distance: 2 miles
Time: 30 to 40 min

Mr. Baltierra and his bicycle at a City of Commerce rideshare event

Mr. Baltierra and his bicycle at a City of Commerce rideshare event. Photo courtesy of Rebecca-Lee Longoria.

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Why You Ride: Bicycle Edition – mayor of South Pasadena, biking to work since 1977

During Bike Week LA, we collected nominations for the Golden Pedal Awards, Metro’s annual competition for great stories about bicycling. We’re featuring these stories in a weekly Why You Ride series – because for many Angelenos, every week is Bike Week!

Dr. Richard Schneider is an overachiever in many ways. He’s a pathologist at two hospitals — one in Hollywood, the other in Lynwood. He’s the mayor of South Pasadena. And he’s biked to work nearly every day since 1977.

Name: Dr. Richard Schneider
Start: South Pasadena
End: Hollywood and Lynwood
Distance: 10 miles (Hollywood), 17 miles (Lynwood)
Time: 35-55 minutes (Hollywood), 70-85 minutes (Lynwood)

Dr. Richard Schneider and his bicycle (plus high-visibility jacket, helmet, and lights)

Dr. Richard Schneider, mayor of South Pasadena, and his bicycle (plus high-visibility jacket, helmet, and lights)

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Why You Ride: Bicycle Edition — the “bikiest” guy in LA

It’s time again for the Golden Pedal Awards, Metro’s annual competition for stories about commuting via bicycling. We collected nominations all throughout Bike Week LA and will be publishing a Why You Ride series with one winner a week — to remind us that every week is Bike Week!

Our first winner this year is Justin Resnick — probably “the bikiest guy in LA,” according to his colleague Rick Gutierrez, who nominated Justin for a Golden Pedal Award. Justin studies bicycle and pedestrian planning as a UCLA urban planning graduate student, serves as the president of the UCLA Bicycle Coalition, and works for the LADOT Bike Program. He bikes from Santa Monica to UCLA almost every day and to downtown Los Angeles one to two times a week. (And according to Rick, Justin bikes everywhere else too, including “nights out on the town.”)

Name: Justin Resnick
Start: Santa Monica
End: UCLA or downtown Los Angeles
Distance: 5 miles to UCLA, 18 miles to downtown LA
Time: 25 minutes to UCLA, 75 minutes to downtown LA

Photo of Justin and bicycle

Justin and his bicycle tabling for the UCLA Bicycle Coalition. The front and rear racks on the bike make it easy to carry things on his commute.

Justin commutes on a single-speed road bike that he built himself. He makes the ride easier by using “business-like” bicycle accessories that allow him to shift quickly from his bike to the office. His panniers, for instance, look like standard briefcases and have shoulder straps for carrying, as well as flaps that roll down to hide the pannier hooks. His shoes look like regular office shoes, but have clips that attach to his bike pedals (for more efficient pedaling). He calls his outfit being a “cyclist in stealth mode.”

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Why You Ride: Bicycle Edition — creating community from Sherman Oaks to downtown Los Angeles

To celebrate Bike Week LA, we’re publishing a Why You Ride series with the winners of the 2012 Golden Pedal Awards, Metro’s annual competition for great stories about commuting via bicycle.

Our final Golden Pedal Award winner for this week is Michael Tormey. Michael commutes from Sherman Oaks to downtown Los Angeles on his bicycle. He first began riding to work once or twice a week when raising his kids was making it hard for him to find other time to exercise.

Now he bikes to work almost every day, enjoying the sense of community he gets from meeting people along the way. During the fall and winter, when it gets dark earlier, he even gives “blinker” lights to people he sees riding without bike lights; he estimates he’s given away more than 200 bike lights over the years.

Name: Michael Tormey
Start: Sherman Oaks
End: Downtown Los Angeles
Distance: 14+ miles
Time: 75 to 90 minutes

Photo courtesy of Michael Tormey.

Michael wrote to us:

“My commute takes me through Echo Park, Silver Lake, along Sunset Boulevard, west on Hollywood Boulevard, over Cahuenga Pass and west on Ventura Boulevard to my home. It’s a fun, diverse and colorful commute, and I see and meet all types of riders and bikes.

“On my evening commute in the fall and winter, I’ve always been amazed at the number of cyclists riding without bike lights. For the last three fall and winter seasons, I have been handing out ‘blinkers’ to riders who have no lights. I have probably handed out more than 200 blinkers to fellow riders. I know it might sound weird, but I think I do it for the karma. It just makes me feel good, and makes me feel like a part of the biking community. A big thanks to Lynne Goldsmith at Metro for providing the lights over the years.”

We asked Michael what he enjoys the most about his commute, and he told us:

“Besides the exercise fix, the real enjoyment I get is seeing communities and meeting people along the way. It’s hard to have conversations on the ride, but I really like the sense of community I get from most of my interactions.

“There is the grocer at a mom-and-pop place just before Cahuenga Pass — Oak Crest Market — that always yells out, ‘Have a nice day, sir!’ when he sees me. Sometimes he will run out and give me a rolling high-five.

“The bus drivers — I like to think that over the years a number of them know me now and give me a beep of hello. I have always found them to be a friendly lot. Treat them with respect and they give you respect back. It is a tough job after all — driving in traffic all day!

“And last is a recent experience… I was riding home on Hollywood Boulevard, and all of a sudden a car door opened. I’ve only had a few mishaps over the years, but never gotten ‘doored.’ I reacted with a quick flick of the handlebar and missed getting nailed by a whisker… and fortunately the big truck running next to me in the right lane didn’t run me over either. When I got to the next stoplight, the guy in the truck looked at me. Shaking his head, he grinned and said, ‘Man, I thought you was dead! I never saw anything like it, what a move.’ Then he reached down from the cab and gave me a fist bump. I was smiling the whole way home… and even now as I write this.”

Thanks for making us smile too with your stories, Michael! We’ve sent you a very large box of chocolate-dipped Clif Mojo bars for you to share on your bicycle rides.


Why You Ride: Bicycle Edition — learning to ride at last

To celebrate Bike Week LA, we’re publishing a Why You Ride series with the winners of the 2012 Golden Pedal Awards, Metro’s annual competition for great stories about commuting via bicycle.

Even if you don’t know how to ride a bicycle, cycling can still become a feasible way to get to work! Siobhan Dolan wrote to tell us how, at the age of 30, she learned to ride a bike just so she could commute to work. Now she bikes the 10 miles between Atwater Village and Mid-Wilshire twice a day, in under 45 minutes each way.

Name: Siobhan Dolan
Start: Atwater Village
End: Mid-Wilshire
Distance: 10 miles
Time: 45 minutes

Photo courtesy of Siobhan Dolan.

Siobhan said:

“I am a new bike rider—and when I say new, I mean that you can teach an old dog new tricks, because I just learned how to ride a bike at 30 years old. I learned how to ride because I wanted to commute to work by bicycle. My sole intention was to improve the public welfare by reducing car emissions in our already smoggy city.

“Who knew that I would grow to love it so much? My commute is peaceful. I now see some ‘regulars’ on 4th Street whom I wave to, and my overall quality of life has improved—and all because I chose to ride my bike. It has taught me that I can accomplish anything!”

Thanks, Siobhan, for proving that for those of us who weren’t taught to ride a bike growing up, it’s never too late to learn and even love it. And thank you also for making the air in Los Angeles a little cleaner for everyone! We’ve sent you a box of Clif bars to help you power your commute.