#LAsucksforcycling -but- #LAsucksfordrivingmore

In my years living in Los Angeles I’ve found my overall happiness is directly and inversely correlated with the number of hours I spend in a car.

In college I drove nearly 2 hours each way from Orange County to an internship in Pasadena. I hated it. Upon further reflection, I didn’t hate the internship so much as I hated getting to the internship.

Earlier this year I (re)discovered my love of the bicycle and started bike commuting a few days a week. It was revolutionary. An instant improvement to nearly every area of my life.


A few weeks ago, my supervisor informed me I couldn’t commute by bicycle anymore. I was outraged. I know it’s probably illegal for an employer to control the way I get to work. I probably have a solid case with HR against my supervisor, but retaliation is a real thing and I don’t think I want to fight that battle. Leave your commiseration in the comments; I love having my indignation justified.

Now that I’m relegated back to the congested lanes of Cahuenga and the 101 freeway, I’m realizing just how much riding my bike improved my daily life. It’s not really a matter of “you never know what you have until it’s gone” as much as a matter of “I knew what I had, I just never thought I’d lose it.”

Here are a few reflections on my last few weeks without bike commuting.

  1. Driving in LA traffic is hands down, unequivocally the worst part about living in LA. Traffic is probably the worst part of living in any city. Commuting by bicycle cuts down those stressful hours behind the wheel and replaces them with stress-relieving hours on two wheels.

    A hard day at work capped off with a stop and go commute has me walking through my front door seething. A hard day at work capped off with a bike ride through Griffith Park gives me somewhere constructive to direct my pent-up frustration. I arrive home having already mentally worked through all the shit of the day and riding an endorphin high.
  2. Bicycling is faster than you think. At best, my 12 mile car commute is 35 minutes. At worst, it’s an hour. My bike commute is *always* 45 minutes. You do the math.

    Parking a bike is free. Parking a bike is fast. Your can park a bike next to your desk. Alternatively, parking a car is almost never free. Parking a car is almost never fast. You cannot park a car next to your desk.
  3. Building biking into my daily routine makes me 100% more likely to actually exercise. I work in television, an industry notoriously known for 12+ hour work days. No way am I driving to the gym after working that long, but I’ll sure as hell hop on a bike to get back to a hot shower and a bed before I do it all again.

    In the weeks I haven’t been able to commute by bicycle I also haven’t had time to work in any other form of exercise to my day. My productivity has slumped, my stress has risen, and people around me have unfortunately taken the brunt of that.

In addition, bike commuting saves money, which means you can take the money you would have spent on boring gas and spend it on cool bike toys instead. I think it’s worth it.

Go ride your bike.

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

Aaron Rickel

Climber. Cyclist. Hiker. Writer. Currently has base camp set up in Los Angeles, CA. Runs the Los Angeles Field Guide.