Why You Ride: Bicycle Edition – biking to work is no challenge for Wesley High

Location - Union Station - Harvey House Restaurant Space

Wesley High, winner of the Bike Ambassador Award. Photo: Josh Southwick/Metro.

Each year, the Diamond Awards recognize the achievements of corporate rideshare programs in the region and their contribution toward decreasing gasoline consumption, air pollution and commuter costs. New this year were the Ambassador awards, which acknowledged commuters for ridesharing and for taking the initiative to promote transit alternatives to their peers.

The recipient of the Bicycle Ambassador award, Wesley High with Phelps, is a truly avid bicyclist. Wesley began biking three years ago on Bike to Work Day and now rides from Silver Lake to where he works at Phelps in Santa Monica—a whopping 30 miles round trip. He also founded his company’s bike to lunch club, leads a company team during the national bike challenge, and his desk often acts as a makeshift bike repair shop for coworkers.

Below, Wesley shares his thoughts on his daily commute and talks about why he rides.

How did you commute before you started biking to work? What made you decide to ride?

When I moved to L.A. five years ago, I was commuting by car from Encino to Santa Monica. When I moved to Silver Lake I started taking the bus instead, which I did for about six months. We’d get stuck in traffic trying to cross the 405 and I’d see people riding right past us on their bikes. I thought to myself “I could do that.” I did a test ride on the weekend and said “I can do that” and from that point started making it a regular thing.

How often do you bike to work? How long does the trip take? Do you ever connect to transit? 

I try to ride at least three times a week. I recently got a dog and we can bring them into work, so she has cramped my riding a bit, at least until I get her trained to ride in a trailer. The trip takes about one hour in the morning and an extra 5 to 10 minutes in the evening, depending on if I’m riding alone or with others. I use transit occasionally, mostly when I’ve encountered mechanical troubles like a broken spoke or flat tire. I just put my bike on the next bus and then repair my bike when I get to work.  

What tips do you have for making a bike commute easier?

Finding some other people who commute by bike, especially along your same route. I try to say “hi” to other people I see riding along my route and strike up a conversation. I’ve made a few friends, just because we were both heading the same direction and decided to ride the rest of the way together. Making friends while commuting to work is not something that really happens when you are driving by yourself. This is one of the reasons I joined an organization called L.A. Bike Trains, which lets you join up with experienced bike commuters along routes across the city. 

Do you have any interesting tales from your bike commutes?

I’ve seen all sorts of things. Other riders wearing only a Speedo, someone driving around with their hood up, countless people using their phones, calling, texting, watching videos. Incredible amounts of backed up traffic, one day I passed 631 cars in a 3-mile stretch of Santa Monica Boulevard in about 15 minutes. I was very happy I rode that day.

Thank you, Wesley, for your commitment to bicycling! Keep up the good work, and happy commuting.

Why You Ride: Transit Edition – Kay Gonzales is a faithful Green Line commuter

Kay Gonzales, winner of the Transit Ambassador Award. Photo: Josh Southwick/Metro

Kay Gonzales, winner of the Transit Ambassador Award. Photo: Josh Southwick/Metro

Each year, the Diamond Awards recognize the achievements of corporate rideshare programs in the region and their contribution toward decreasing gasoline consumption, air pollution and commuter costs. New this year were the Ambassador awards, which acknowledged commuters for ridesharing and for taking the initiative to promote transit alternatives to their peers.

The recipient of the Transit Ambassador award, Kay Gonzales of Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA), walks the talk. Kay has been a loyal transit rider for more than three decades and currently takes the Metro Green Line to work at the offices of Los Angeles World Airports. Kay distributes transit passes on behalf of the rideshare office, and she’s always eager to answer questions and offer help to make the commute easier for her coworkers.

And Kay performs these duties in addition to her normal work assignments!

Below, Kay shares her thoughts on her daily commute and talks about why she takes transit.

How did you commute before you started riding transit? What made you decide to ride?

I have been a lifelong transit rider–I’ve taken buses, the Green, Blue and Red lines. I ride because I don’t have to look out for other drivers. I can read, think, make notes, talk to others, close my eyes. Be happy when I get to work and when I get home.

How often do you take Metro work? How long does the trip take?

I use the Green Line every day. It’s about an hour in the morning, an hour and half in the evening.

What tips do you have for making a transit commute easier?

Have your pass/change ready, wear comfortable shoes, carry a large purse/bag for your lunch, book and sweater. 

Do you have a favorite Metro bus or rail line?

The Green Line. It’s the best transit I have ever used; it is fast, clean, does not cross traffic.

Thank you, Kay, for being an advocate of transit! Keep up the good work, and happy commuting.

Why You Ride: Vanpool Edition – Charlie McDaniel is a true vanpool ambassador

Charlie McDaniel, winner of the Vanpool Ambassador Award. Photo: Josh Southwick/Metro

Charlie McDaniel, winner of the Vanpool Ambassador Award. Photo: Josh Southwick/Metro

Each year, the Diamond Awards recognize the achievements of corporate rideshare programs in the region and their contribution toward decreasing gasoline consumption, air pollution and commuter costs. New this year were the Ambassador awards, which acknowledged commuters for ridesharing and for taking the initiative to promote transit alternatives to their peers.

The recipient of the Vanpool Ambassador award, Charlie McDaniel of Jones Day, is a true advocate of ridesharing. Charlie formed 10 vanpools for commuters from Riverside to Union Station–an impressive feat especially because she was able to form 4 in one day!

Below, Charlie shares her thoughts on her daily commute and talks about why she shares the ride.

What made you decide to rideshare?

Commuting to downtown Los Angeles from the Inland Empire can be time consuming and expensive. I knew a lot of people with the same problem, and they asked if I could try to figure out a less expensive way for everyone to get to work. I then looked into vanpooling and learned how beneficial it could be for everyone involved. After figuring out what it would cost for people to get into L.A. from various cities in the Inland Empire, I commenced passing out flyers asking people who were interested in vanpooling to contact me with their travel times. I got an amazing response and began putting together various vanpools out of Riverside, San Bernardino, Ontario, Rancho Cucamonga, Corona and the like.  

I was particularly interested in saving people money. At the time I got involved in this, a lot of households were reduced to single income households due to the economy and mass layoffs and desperately needed a more cost-effective commute. It was and is a major success because we are able to accommodate personal schedules, and it resulted in a major reduction in what had to be paid monthly.
 
How often do you rideshare to work now? How long does it take? 

Five days a week, Monday through Friday. The commute is roughly an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes. I’ll have been vanpooling for 2 years by this July.

What tips do you have for making a vanpool commute easier?

The key to having a happy vanpool is that everyone is congenial, takes heed of the rules and abides by them.  

Thank you, Charlie, for being a leader in the vanpool community! Keep up the good work, and happy commuting.

Metro gets a nice cameo in new Alternative Travel Project video on getting around L.A. sans personal car

This video has been making the rounds since being posted earlier this month. It’s the work of the Alternative Travel Project, a group which advocates for — as the name implies — travel by transit, bike and foot. On the local front, the actress Stana Katic has been giving the group a helping hand and the group has been involved in pushing CicLAvia.

It’s a great video with Metro playing a supporting role — and it shows that cars are hardly the only travel choice in So Cal. Share it please.

UCLA students learn the ropes of L.A.'s transit system

Here’s a nice, short video from the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, which each fall provides an “L.A. Transit Tour” to incoming students to help them get a better handle on the lay of the land here. Take a look. The video includes footage of former Source writer Carter Rubin preaching the gospel (of transit) while aboard Metro Rail.

Now that's a pro-transit music video!

If you’re watching this at work, consider this an “earphones” alert. The video is from the band “It’s Casual” and the song is called “The Red Line” and is decidedly pro-transit.

In an email, front-man Eddie Solis wrote the song is non-fiction account of a working professional who chooses to take public transportation “because the freeways are not so nice.” In the song, Eddie takes particular umbrage with the 210, 605 and 101.
Enjoy!

The MetroDuo Blog is a guide to L.A. events by Metro Rail

Here’s a new local blog worth checking out: The MetroDuo Blog.

The tagline of the site is “See Los Angeles by rail!” and the posts center on Metro accessible events throughout the city. These are more than just listings à la Go Metro Weekends – they’re nice detailed write-ups by the Duo that include great pictures (the writers are photographers by trade) and maps that tell you exactly how to get to any given event on Metro Rail.

Despite focusing on events and destinations, the blog’s philosophy is of the “it’s the journey, not the destination” variety, as summed up in the About Us blurb:

We see the Metro as more than transportation. It is part of our activities and outings, not just a way to get to an event or place.

The latest posting takes a look at MOCA’s Art in the Streets exhibition and is accompanied by some photos that make me want to hop on the Gold Line right now and check out the show. Added bonus: the Duo reveal that MOCA waives the entrance fee to the show during certain hours on Mondays and Thursdays. Nice.

Another useful post from the Duo: a guide to the Pasadena City College Flea Market, also accessible by the Gold Line. The post includes a nice tip about an e-waste recycling drop point at the market. Good to know for those of us who upgraded to a fancy smartphone and are at a loss about what to do with our old Nokia brick.

The MetroDuo Blog looks to be a worthy bookmark for Metro riders and L.A. explorers alike. Check it out.

More Expo Videos: A Phase One tour by car

Thanks to Montreal-based transit connoisseur Alex Kasperavicius for recording this video progress report on the Expo Line Phase One from Culver City to downtown Los Angeles. At 16 minutes long, it represents a somewhat sped-up version of how riding the trail will actually feel (red lights are edited out — if only in real life too!).

In ten years, it’ll be interesting to come back and look at this again, when all the recently-planted trees have grown in and Expo feels like second nature to the communities it will serve.

Let us know what you think of this one, and we’ll keep passing along the great ones that we find.