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.

Why do you take Imperial Highway?

“Imperial is the fastest way to my work. I’ve tried to map out an easier way to get to my job so many times. I know the streets of La Mirada and La Habra better than [the streets of] the city I live in!”

Why did you start bicycling to work?

“I wanted a healthy, green, and cost-free way of getting to work. I don’t like to drive, I don’t like waiting on the bus and my work is way beyond walking distance – so bicycling was the only way to go for me, and I enjoy every second of it.”

What has kept you riding for the last one and a half years?

“What keeps me riding when the commute is so long and full of traffic is just thinking that I got to get to work on time, I’m helping better off my body and the planet, and really just the excitement of riding your bicycle on such a long trip. You never know what you’re going to encounter.”

Have you had any memorable experiences while biking to work?

“I was [going] north down a small hill coming from work and preparing to stop at the red light ahead of me, and just as I applied my front brakes, the cable snapped, which made my front brakes fall apart. So I’m heading fast towards a red light with only faded back brakes and I was just grateful to God that I was able to think fast and had an option of turning east on the upcoming four-way street with no cars going east at that moment. I kept heading down that street until my bike finally stopped. Anytime I make it to my destination safely on my bike is a good experience to me.”

Do you ride outside of your commute?

“I ride my bike everywhere: to run errands, visit family and friends, work. So my bike means a lot to me. I do want to try riding competitively since I ride my bicycle so much and enjoy it so much.”

Breeanna’s bicycling tips:

  • She rides a 12-speed mountain bike – the gears help her climb the hills in her neighborhood.
  • Whenever possible, she bikes on roads that have wide lanes and less car traffic. She uses Google Maps’ “bicycle” feature to plan her commute.
  • She wears sunglasses to keep dirt, debris, and sun out of her eyes. She said, “My glasses really help keep me focused.”
  • Her flexible work schedule allows her to take a break from commuting once or twice during the week.
  • She highly recommends taking a ride along the San Gabriel River Trail, her favorite bicycle path in LA. “It’s very peaceful and scenic.”

Thanks Breeanna for being a bicycling inspiration! With help from our generous Bike Week sponsors, we’ve sent you a Nathan safety vest, RydeSafe reflective decals, Clif Bars, and a free year of bicycle roadside assistance from Better World Club.

9 replies

  1. Amazing! And very dedicated despite those scary experiences! Amazing, Cant say that enough, you should try doing a marathon. Don’t know how you do it! Great job! 🙂

  2. Really insprationally story. …. You’re awesome Breanna…… ride safe

  3. Oh my little Breeanna, you are an inspiration to many 🙂 Thank you for sending me your link so I could read this. I am so proud of you and hope to see you soon!!! Love you, continue to be safe, and God bless.

  4. Hi Steve, no it depends on the traffic and the street conditions. Sometimes I ride on the street and sometimes the sidewalk. La Habra/La Mirada, Downey I tend to ride on the street since its more open and the streets are wider, while Norwalk I sidewalk since its so crowded. It is dangerous, but you get use to it the more you ride. It isn’t as bad as you think. When I first started out I did nothing but sidewalk. And now I’m not scared to be on the streets no matter how many cars. Car and truck drivers tend to be courteous.It gets frustrating at times, but you just got to shake it off and focus on your destination and what your doing .You should try it out. You will really like it. Hope I helped 🙂

  5. Good for you Breeanna. I’m glad for you. One thing you might consider is trying a rear view mirror attached to your sunglasses. It may or may not appeal to you but I like the option of a wide view of what’s coming up behind me when I’m in traffic. I use one called “Take a Look”. There’s others on the market. In any event, hopefully others will be encouraged by your example. Ride On.

  6. I’m considering riding from La Mirada to Downey for my work commute. All of it on Imperial Hwy.

    Question: Do you ride in the street the whole way? Or on the sidewalk and the street? It’s a very congested and dangerous highway.