Monday, September 29, 2008

Car Free, For Reals

I did not have to move my car for street cleaning this morning because I no longer own a car! I signed the DMV liability release and parted with the keys yesterday. I spent the first 22 years of my life without owning a car, but quickly let my self feel like it was a necessity once I finally had one.

Falling into the fold of cycling culture in Los Angeles made me realize again, that I don't really need a car. With combination of bicycle, walking, skating, bus and train, I can get where I need and want to go just fine. Without the costs and stress of driving, and with the health benefits of an active lifestyle. Not to mention the benefits to the environment and society.

Oh and parking, that was the worst for me. I hate searching for parking spaces.


Browne said...

Great!! Car FREE is awesome. Now on to me. You are bike guy. I need a new bike. I want it to be light and not 5000 dollars and I prefer it be cute too. Cute is a big deal to me, though light is most important. I want to incorporate cycling more into my mass transit commute and the bike I have now is too heavy and owing to that I don't use it as much as I can.

Where should I go?

Gary said...

My personal favorite shop is Cynergy in Santa Monica, since it is quality and pretty much walking distance to me. REI may be worth looking at as well for their Novara branded bikes which are often less expensive then equivalent bikes from other brands while still being quality components.

You mention incorporating cycling into other mass transit use. Due to the high demand of bike racks on buses at peak times, and limited standing room for bikes on trains also during peak times, full size bikes can be difficult. You may want to consider a folding bike if regular mixed transit use is a high priority for you. Dahon is the most prominent maker of folding bikes I am familiar with. Not sure how define cute, but small things say cute to me and these bikes have small wheels.

For more to give more specific advice I'd kind of need to know more about what you are looking for. Being light and less then 5 grand is not enough to go on.

Choosing the right bike for someone is a pretty involved deal, compared to say buying a pair of shoes. REI actually has a pretty decent article on choosing a bike on their website.

Dahon folding Bikes:

Hope that helps some.

browne said...

I go a variety of places, but luckily I live in downtown, so often I'm the first person on the bus, since for some odd reason downtown is viewed as downtown...haha...

I don't do in road biking or anything. I'm slightly paranoid about riding in the street, because I have been hit two times (my fault both times). I should probably take a class or something.

I am a freelancer. I am almost never on the bus during rush hour traffic. My business takes place frequently in South LA, Downey, Compton, but I also go to the Eastside (BH, LH...) on the weekends I'm mainly around downtown or Silver Lake or Los Feliz (downtown I currently just walk, I'd rather bike it would be faster also if I had a better/lighter bike I would ride into Silver Lake and Los Feliz, because if I got tired I would have the bus option).

Distance mostly I go five miles or so..

I think you are supposed to carry your bike up the stairs right, you aren't supposed to stand on the escalator? And I take the Green Line pretty often and it doesn't always have an escalator option. My current bike is too big to go on the elevator without me feeling like I'm taking all of this space and plus the elevators smell like pee and the fragrance that they use to mask the pee, the stair, I hate them and I'm in good shape. I can run up the stairs, but with a heavy bike it makes it me just want to walk and it really isn't exactly safe me walking around some of the places I go by myself, a bike would be better.

These are all the reasons I need a light bike. I have been looking into that Dahon, but the cute one that I wanted they weren't making anymore, but I could probably paint it :) Do you think that Dahon would be ok to ride up Sunset? I always buy novelty stuff thinking it is real...

Yeah currently I get more tired carrying my bike on and off of trains and upstairs and to my place than I do riding it and that seems to not be how it is supposed to work.

I shouldn't say I want it to be cheap, since this is my only mode of transport, but less than $1,000...I want the toyota version of bikes, not a geo or a mercedes. And I am not mechanically inclined and do not want to be, so not breaking is important.

Gary said...

Hey browne,

Will try to answer some of your questions.

"Do you think that Dahon would be ok to ride up Sunset? I always buy novelty stuff thinking it is real..."

Foldie bikes as long as they have a decent gear range should be good for all but maybe the most steep hills such as those in the Hollywood hills.

One thing to note, is that they might not give you same power and leverage in getting out of the saddle in climbing steep hills or sprinting. Having only ridden one once, I also can't say a lot about them definitively, but I know there are many foldie fans out there.

"I think you are supposed to carry your bike up the stairs right, you aren't supposed to stand on the escalator?"

Many cyclists I know, my self included use escalators while holding our bikes in train stations. It's important to be mindful of others around you, but if you have a good grip on it and move predictably it shouldn't be an issue.

"And I am not mechanically inclined and do not want to be, so not breaking is important."

If you don't want breaking, you should be good in the budget range you are talking about. Just avoid bikes from places like Wal-Mart like the plague. However all bikes should have their chains lubricated periodically and be taken in for tune ups at least once a year for extending the life of your components.

Since being light weight seems to be a very important thing for you, you will probably want a bike made of aluminum for your budget range. It's much lighter than steel, however it is also a more harsh ride since it is also less flexible. This means a little more discomfort on the bumps and lumps of LA roads. However it is fairly common now to see mixed material bikes that try to find a sweet spot between weight, cost, and comfort. For example many aluminum road bikes now have forks and rear triangles made of carbon fiber, which is light weight but more flexible than aluminum for comfort. Carbon is more expensive, so a alumninum/carbon mix is more affordable than a complete carbon bike. For light weight under $1000, a full aluminum bike is probably your best bet unless you can find a deal on a used bike in good shape that fits you.