Like many 20-somethings I’ve met recently, I got back on a bicycle again for the first time since childhood. Bicycles were part of our youth, and sadly, we outgrew them. I stopped playing outside and traded grass stains and scraped knees for shopping malls, movie theaters, internet access, and my first car. I relied heavily on parents and friends to drive me around until I could finally get behind the wheel. Public transit was not an option due to my parents’ concerns about safety and walking around alone, and frankly, riding buses weren’t appealing. For years, I held on to the belief that public transit was not for me.
My mindset began to change as I got older. The long drive to work on the west side of Los Angeles from my San Gabriel Valley neighborhood 40 miles away was unpleasant and costly. Even with carpools, smartphone traffic apps, mastering several alternate routes, and fellow commuters encouraging me to accept this lifestyle, being in traffic for four hours each day was not the urban adventure I wanted.
I eventually replaced the unpredictable rush hour drive with a mellow Metrolink ride connecting me to the frenzied Metro system to take me across town. This transition wasn’t easy, and it took a while for me to get into a rhythm—or simply to get to work on time without feeling too stressed or flustered by the trek to the office. Using transit became simpler and more enjoyable. It changed my life, and I want to pass that on, so I created my “Chic Circuit Walk” events. The event combines different modes of transit for visiting local landmarks to help women become more familiar with Metro and walking more in different parts of L.A. I want to educate women about transit and make it enjoyable at the same time in order to shift their way of thinking about buses, trains, walking, and soon, biking. If women can adapt alternative forms of travel occasionally or regularly, they can positively impact their health, families, and communities. A little bit of empowerment goes a long way. This is the kind of message I’m sharing through Women on Bikes SoCal.
Thanks to the scholarship, I have the opportunity to help myself and others to increase their confidence, knowledge, and skills on the road, through bike rides, social media and blogs. If this San Gabriel Valley girl can get back on her bike again and take these wheels beyond my cul-de-sac at my own pace, with my own style, and on my own terms, I know many others can, too!