When the Third Street Promenade was young and not the popular tourist destination that it is today, it was quick and easy to get there and park. I could pick up the newspaper at 3:55 p.m. and see that a movie would begin at 4 p.m. at one of the theaters and I could drive there, park and be seated as opening credits began to roll.
Those days are long gone, but I learned that if I ride my bike to the theater, I can be there in five or six minutes, with no parking hassles, and park my bike right in front of the theater. Since then, I have found that it is often easier and more pleasant to do more errands by bike.
About a year ago I made a deal with myself not to use my car at least one day per week. With increased traffic and fuel costs, it seemed the least I could do to be a better citizen. As I spend so much time in my car for my work, I thought it would also help to balance my psyche.
My days without a car became mini adventures and I found that I saw the world from a different point of view and I liked what I saw.
Several months ago, I approached Kevin Herrera, the editor of this paper, with the idea of running a series of articles about my little ventures of getting around town without a car. Kevin liked the first three articles that I submitted.
He said he would be interested in running them, but that he wanted me to write an introductory article about myself and how I got started in this effort.
Then I was stuck. I have no trouble writing my stories, but that assignment stumped me for weeks.
When I reflected on my inspiration for using other modes of transport than my car, I realized that my inspiration was beyond avoiding traffic and saving some cash on gas. I found that creating small, daily adventures outside the bubble of my car was just fun, and I needed some of that. Who doesn’t?
I’ve lived in Santa Monica for 23 years, I’m old enough to be a grandmother and I am a corporate training professional. As I look back, I see that the focus of my younger years was often about striving to build my future — career challenges, self-improvement, and to reach that seemingly unobtainable perfect weight.
I would often ride my bike around Santa Monica and on the beach bike path, but it was mostly on the quest for calorie burning and the endorphins high.
Now in my middle years I am no longer an up-and-coming young professional, I just may continue to be personally flawed and I’m still wearing those extra pounds. I decided that enjoying the here and now was a great idea. And I’ve noted that I’m not alone; there are plenty of us not-so-youngsters are out there getting around on foot pedal rather than gas pedal.
I have found that getting things done around town on my bike is a joy that I recall as kid when I’d cruise out on my banana seat bike and head to my favorite hobby store. I have a destination and I’m not racing there with purposeful determination, but I’m enjoying what is around me and actually meander.
I enjoy the luxurious flower gardens in Santa Monica and little local detail that I just wouldn’t see from my car.
As for my bus adventures, why would I ever take a bus if I had a car? That’s the natural question people ask. Now that I’ve incorporated the bus into some of my adventures, I love to avoid seeking a parking space and letting someone else do the driving.
I hope you enjoy the stories to follow that chronicle some of my experiences while bursting my car bubble, and perhaps you will do the same.
Carol Hastings is a corporate training professional and human resources consultant. Her company, Corte Hispana, provides translations to Spanish of human resources-related documents and she trains in English and Spanish. Every day she appreciates living in Santa Monica, especially when riding her bike. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, for now.