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.