Biking For the Real City Experience

In yesterday’s NYtimes, Seth Kugel gave his amusing and illuminating account of Los Angeles from the perspective of a cycling tourist.

Kugel made it his goal to visit a reasonably large stretch of LA county comprising of places like Beverly Hills, Hollywood, Santa Monica, Venice Beach, Downtown, and Pasadena on a budget of $100/day. Undeterred by lore on the impossibility of getting around LA without a car, Kugel made his ambitious week-long adventure depending only on public transportation and a rented hybrid Trek bike.
You can read his detailed saga in its entirety in “Frugal Los Angeles“. But to sum up the author’s verdict, biking is not only a possible means of sight-seeing, but ultimately gives you a more enriching and more authentic exposure to your vacation site. Even after a lot of sweat and not a lot of bike lanes (things that LA is known for), Seth Kugel came to this conclusion:
I had expected getting around Los Angeles by bike and public transportation to be a barely tolerable chore–a money-saving second-best way to see the city. Why, then, was I feeling so elated about my trip and smitten by a city I had never particularly liked before? […]

What I had really liked were the moments in between: the strangers who shared secrets on the buses, the dog walkers and Dutch tourists who stopped to chat with me along Rodeo Drive, the aspiring actor I struck up a conversation with on Santa Monica boulevard, as he cycled to an audition and I cycled to pick up my U.C.L.A. football ticket. These were true Los Angeles moments–moments that most visitors, stuck in freeway traffic behind the steering wheel of their rental car, never get to experience.”
Kugel claims that these experiences speak to an authenticity of L.A. And I think this can be found in S.F. too. Not only is our city filled to the brim with an eclectic culture and electric sights, but we can also boast of more bikers who take advantage of this. When we fight for safer streets, we also fight for people to get out of their cars and into the “true” San Francisco.

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