If Los Angeles Ran Entirely on Bicycles

What if Los Angeles operated entirely on bicycles instead of cars for transportation? Ok, I realize there are a lot of holes in the idea that would make that impossible. But still! In honor of Earth Day let’s talk about it.  (By the way, Earth Day was yesterday… if you forgot about it, do some extra recycling this week, or plant a tree or something.)


Just this past Sunday, Los Angeles held its fifth CicLAvia event, where the city shuts down a major roadway to make room for bicyclists and pedestrians all over the city.  Last weekend’s events shut down Venice Blvd, all the way from the beach into downtown LA. Thousands of Angelenos took to the streets on their bikes, some just tooling around the areas where they live, and others making the entire trek from one end of the route to the other.


CicLAvia is modeled after the ciclovias that started in Bogota, Colombia “as a response to the congestion and pollution of city streets.” Here in LA  the purpose is “connecting communities and giving people a break from the stress of car traffic.” We don’t have bicycles, but we met friends for lunch who were riding inland from the beach, and popped down to the route on foot to check it out. It was a sea of bicycles!


So could we do it? Give up our cars in exchange for bicycles as our primary means of transportation? Here are some of my thoughts on the matter.

 Some Pros

  • less pollution from car exhaust

  • bicycles take up way less space than cars, presumably meaning less crowded roads

  • all the things that come with reducing reliance on foreign oil

  • people get more exercise; this also means people burning more calories, effectively utilizing more of the calories they put into their systems so that the energy that went into getting that food to them is more valued

  • people would likely live closer to work, and soon communities would become more socially and economically self sufficient

Some Cons

  • your work and play options may be more limited as travelling very long distances would be pretty much out of the question

  • we would still need to allow for space for emergency vehicles to make their way through in emergency situations

  • transporting babies, small children, or people with disabilities would be considerably more difficult

  • the environmental impact of suddenly disposing of hundreds of thousands of cars… well, that would be a bummer, to say the very least

  • rainy days would be pretty unpleasant… maybe we could also institute “rain days” at work…?

Ok, so realistically it would probably not work. But it’s an interesting thought, isn’t it? I’m reading a book right now called The Philosophy of Sustainable Design, in which the author Jason F McLennan sites a quote from Natural Capitalism that explains that of all the energy consumed by a car, only 1% of it actually goes toward moving the person it’s transporting. Baby steps are happening in the car industry to improve on this, to be sure! But McLellan goes on to say, “Our greatest people-moving invention is actually the bicycle, which moves people farther per calorie of energy than anything we’ve come up with. Forty times more efficient than the car and three times more efficient than a person walking!”


What are your thoughts? Do you have a bicycle at home, and would you be able to replace your car with it?

The Importance of Travel

Yesterday I took a leap and bought plane tickets for my husband and I to go on a trip to Abu Dhabi, UAE, and Istanbul, Turkey. It wasn’t a leap because of a lack of desire to go (we’ve been looking forward to this trip for quite some time!), but it was a leap because it’s not a cheap trip to take, nor is it a quick flight (and my husband is not the biggest fan in the world of airplane rides.) But travel is important! Traveling can change the way you look at the world, get you out of your comfort zone and put things into perspective a bit. Plus, as my husband was quick to point out while I was laboring over the cost, no one ever regrets spending money on a trip like this!

Suitcase - travel Photo

Why Abu Dhabi and Istanbul, you may ask? Well, we are fortunate to have close friends currently living in Abu Dhabi, and who share our desire to explore Istanbul. So this is a combo visit-and-adventure trip! The UAE is probably not someplace I would normally think to vacation, but when opportunity knocks you have to answer! And since none of us have ever been to Turkey but keep hearing incredible things about how beautiful is it, we’re using the opportunity of having traveled such a long distance already to all take an exploration vacation together. (We’re not going until May, but don’t worry, I will certainly be writing about it when the time comes!)

So in honor of taking that travel leap, I thought I’d talk about why travel is so important. To be clear, travel doesn’t have to be defined by a 16 hour flight. Travel could be simply visiting someplace by car, either because you’ve never been there or because you love going there. Travel is leaving home for someplace different, and taking the time to experience things you don’t normally get to experience.

Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone

Sometimes it feels so easy to just stay at home. After a long week or a particularly rigorous project at work, I’m the first to admit that the last thing I want to do is to go somewhere! But sometimes that is exactly the time when you should leave the house. It can be like pushing your restart button, reminding you that there is more to the world than the few-mile radius you typically operate in. (Work, home, grocery store, home, work, gas station, home, etc.) One of our favorite quick-and-easy getaways to relieve ourselves of the hustle and bustle of LA life is to take a night or two in a bed and breakfast in Santa Barbara. It’s less than 2 hours away, but feels like we are far far away from Los Angeles!


Santa Ynez Valley, just outside of Santa Barbara

There’s Always Something New to Explore

A good friend of mine one, a highly traveled travel-blogger, once told me that the more she travels the bigger the world feels to her. This surprised me! I guess I expected that at some point she might feel like she was running out of places to go, but in fact it is quite the opposite. For everything she sees, there is something more to be seen. It’s a little overwhelming to think about it that way! But what that means to me is that there is always going to be someplace you haven’t been before, so you will never run out of new experiences to have! In today’s web-centric society, the world feels somewhat small. You can look anything up at any time, and connect with people all over the world with just the click of a mouse. It’s easy to forget that in fact the world has a huge surface area, covered from head to toe with places you can explore.

Open Your Eyes to Other Ways of Life

When you visit someplace else, chances are there are people there living life quite differently than you are at home! Even just the difference between living in a big city like Los Angeles and living in a countryside only a few miles away like in the wine country of Santa Ynez Valley can be stark. The difference in lifestyles around the world became abundantly clear to me about a year and a half ago when my husband and I visited Costa Rica. We didn’t want a resort vacation, but rather an exploration of the rainforests and wildlife there. Along the way we became friends with our guide, whose family runs a wildlife reserve and animal rescue center, driven by their passion for the earth and the natural Costa Rican wildlife. We met naturalists all over the country, learning about their passions and love for their country and it’s habitat. We even met a fellow whose home is a make-shift house along a river and who makes a living by crossing people over the river in his canoe. He then puts some of his small income into sea turtle preservation. When we got home from that trip, our perspective on what was important in life and how we are affecting the environment around us changed forever.


signs about Ricardo’s turtle reserve


Ricardo invited us in for some coffee and cookies

Traveling Can Bring Friends and Families Together

In the most literal sense, traveling can allow families and friends who live far apart to come together, show their love for each other, tell stories of their experiences apart, and create new experiences together. This is becoming more and more important as our society becomes more national and even global, and we move further and further away from the families that raised us and the friends we grew up with. Between my husband and I, our families live in Arizona, Utah, Maine, Michigan, Western New York, Virginia, Vermont, and even Germany! Additionally, we have friends all over the world, in the US, UK, UAE, Europe… But I look at it more as opportunity. With some smart saving and planning, these are all places we may be able to visit and explore one day, with our friends and families by our sides!


the view from a hike near my in-laws’ home in Utah

More figuratively, traveling together can create so much opportunity for bonding. My husband and I have bonded over some incredible experiences on our honeymoon in Napa, over a Christmas vacation in Chicago, our adventures in Costa Rica, and the list goes on. Perhaps even a better example is a trip my husband took with his oldest brother a few years back. They spent weeks hiking from the Irish Sea to the North Sea in England, through rain and mud and stampedes of cows, and it was an incredibly special experience they will always share with each other!


the Coast-to-Coast trail in England


one of the coasts on the Coast-to-Coast trail in England

In the case of our upcoming Abu Dhabi/Istanbul trip, I’m looking forward to the four of us discovering all sorts of things we have never seen before, and discovering them together!

Ortakoy Mosque looking towards the Bosphorus Bridge, under a cloudy sky.

Is there a trip you have taken that was life changing for you? Or is there a trip you have always wanted to take? I’d love to hear about your adventures!