The tulips are blooming, the daffodils are out in full force and the last storms of the season are making their wet way past us. Spring is officially here!
Opening day for baseball season is Thursday and with that comes the unofficial start of outdoor life for most of us. Barbecues are being busted out across the city, and a winter’s worth of dust and cobwebs is being scrubbed off the grates. Those of us who have allergies are already feeling the effects of the busy and wet winter as the pollen counts are going through the roof.
Personally I’m looking forward to this spring as I get back on my bike more and hopefully lose some of the winter stores I put on, in case I accidentally had to hibernate. This time of renewal and refreshing our lives is a great time to review how far we’ve come this year on our goals. The first quarter is almost over and with that, let’s take a look at what’s going on in our personal and professional lives.
As part of my goal list for this year to be in better shape, this week I’ll be taking my bike in to Bike Attack on Main Street for its annual tune-up. I’ve known the owner, Andrew, for over a decade now, and he and his crew of bike magicians keep me rolling along.
I’ve found that biking in this city is one of the great benefits of life here. We’re lucky to have so much packed into such a small area that getting around by bike is really quite efficient. In the 8 square miles of the city we have most of what we could possibly need, and it’s all just a 30 minute bike ride away.
The key I’ve found to using my bike more is to have a system to handle the inevitable purchases.
There are myriad ways to handle packages when you’re on a bike. These days there are front baskets and back baskets and luggage racks. Bike Attack has a great selection of them all. There are “systems” that have interchangeable components depending on whether or not you are just doing a quick trip to the Farmers’ Market on the Third Street Promenade, or if you’re road-tripping it to San Diego for the weekend.
Backpacks and messenger bags are a very common sight, but I personally don’t like the movement restriction that comes with them. I’m a rack man myself. For years I’ve used a rack and a couple of Bungee cords to secure items that I purchased or books I borrowed from the library. It works well enough for things like books, videos and the occasional sack of vegetables. But this season I think I’m going to break down and get a basket.
Riding around town, however, whether I’m loaded down with kumquats and kale or the latest Matt Damon video, is frequently a dangerous proposition. Drivers are not as courteous as they should be and definitely not as alert as they need to be for those of us on two wheels. Frequently I’ve narrowly avoided disaster as some driver who was not paying attention drove too close to me.
When a car is hugging the right side of the road, it makes it very dangerous for the bicyclist who is navigating the road hazards of potholes, side view mirrors, doors being opened, and drivers pulling out of metered spots who don’t look or anticipate that there is someone pedaling down the road.
I know how scared, anxious and angry I become when a car drives too close to me. I can only imagine how nerve wracking this must be for the parents who are trying to get some exercise while they have their son or daughter strapped in on the back of the bike. So for their sake, I’m asking that we give extra space to them.
The roads are here for all of us, and as we become ever more congested, those of us on bikes are doing a service by reducing the congestion. This spring, I’d like to suggest that we all engage in greater awareness of the bikers. It’s not that difficult to give the biker a bit more room and recognize that they are assuming far greater risks by being on the road than the car drivers.
I’m hopeful that more of us will put “greater awareness of bikers” on our goals for this coming spring and summer and with it allow a safer and more enjoyable experience for everyone who rides a bike. Who knows, if it becomes more fun, more enjoyable and safer, more people may ride and that will be good for the city and the parking situation.
David Pisarra is a family law attorney focusing on father’s rights and men’s Issues in the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (310) 664-9969.