Thursday, June 5, 2008
"Have the bus rides been more crowded?" I asked Domestic Partner. He takes the bus into downtown L.A. and back, five days a week, for work. It is a twenty mile commute, each way.
"Yes," he confirmed.
It is not just my imagination, then. Traffic on the 10 freeway has been noticeably lighter. The pendulum is finally swinging the other way, perhaps. The soaring prices at the gas pump have actually been benefitting someone like me who gets around the Los Angeles freeways on a scooter.
There also seems to be a small increase of other scooter and motorcycle riders, which is just fine with me. Fewer cars plus more motor bikes still equal more elbow room on the roads, and earlier arrival times to both work and home.
$4.50 and up per gallon of premium gas? Bring it. I ain't afraid-a-no projected hikes in gas prices. My scooter uses a single gallon of gas for the fifty mile round trip that I make on weekdays. That's still cheaper than the $7.50 I spend on the same round trip journey riding the Silver Streak bus (which is cheaper than the express bus) and the Red Line train connection, when my scooter is in the shop.
My scooter saves me time, as well. My twenty-five mile commute takes about thirty-five minutes on the my lil' orange putt-putt, versus the combined riding time of ninety minutes on the bus and train. Factor in a minimum of thirty additional minutes for walking time, to the bus stop and train station, and I've got a total of two extra hours a day given to me when I ride my scooter. That's ten extra hours a week! I could be putting that extra time toward earning a graduate degree (if I wanted one, that is . . . right now, I'd rather sleep).
Have I sold you, yet? Are you thinking about finally getting that long-lusted-after Harley Davidson?
There are many pros to riding a motorcycle, including the "green" benefits of fewer gas emissions. But I know not to be smug about it. I know that motorcycles or scooters are not for everyone. Not everyone lives in the lack-of-seasons locale of southern California. I don't know if I would be such an advocate of scooter riding if I lived some place where the weather wasn't so consistently mild.
Also, riding is risky and it can be scary. It is difficult to be seen all of the time by automobile drivers, no matter how large (or how loud) your motor bike may be. You have to be constantly alert of other drivers, in addition to your own driving, when going at such high speeds on such a small vehicle. I remind myself regularly to keep my eyes forward, even when having to check my mirrors or look behind me before making lane changes. It is literally split-second timing that can make the difference between having a collision or arriving at a destination in one piece.
"The horror stories I could tell you," nurses used to tell me, back in the days when I was still riding without a helmet, before the California helmet law.
And as I get older, I've noticed that having to constantly be alert - constantly on edge - leaves me feeling that much more physically exhausted, after arriving at a destination.
But the ride can also be exhilirating for someone like me who first started riding scooters more than twenty years ago. I get a definite "wake up charge" and energy from the ride. It is a feeling of freedom and flying, and of strong independence.
At times, the synchronized motions of my body and the scooter can even feel like an intricately choreographed and well executed ballet. In a glorious pas de deux, the scooter is my dance partner.
Okay, maybe that's over dramatizing it a bit, but I often get very close to that feeling. Just like our two pugs and our kitty, the scooter ride is a source of daily joy.