I am sure you have heard people talk about biking and how great it is for the environment before, and most of you have likely thought, for some reason or another, that it would never work for you. I went through a similar process, living in Los Angeles, and I have to say, I was surprised at how easy it was.
When I started biking, I had a 7 mile commute, and I had my doubts that it would be possible. I was out of shape, having worked a desk job for about a year and half prior, and I had no idea how long it would take to bike seven miles, how fast I could expect to go, and whether or not I would be able to breath when I got to work. In short, I had drastically underestimated how easy it is to ride a bike.
Pretty much the first day I got on the bike I was averaging 10 miles per hour, and that is including traffic lights. The first week, after no working out for almost two years, I was a little winded after 7 miles, but the slight adrenaline rush and extra energy of a morning work out made up for it. It wasn't until a month of biking to work every day that I realized, driving in the city had slowly and quietly been ruining my life.
Everyone complains about driving in Los Angeles, and they are all right. It is stressful, and as most doctors will tell you, stress can lead to all sorts of health problems. Also, when you drive everywhere in Los Angeles, everywhere you go you arrive in a really bad mood. Biking, on the other hand, is really fun! Every time I get on a bike, for the first few minutes I feel like I am 15 again (only without all the social awkwardness, insecurity and acne).
On the green front, the only way to be more green than riding a bike is walking, and that is truly not a viable option for most people. More people biking, even part of the time, is a trifecta for LA: reduce emissions and improve air quality, reduce congestion on the roads, and improve your health both mentally and physically.
Los Angeles, despite what you may have heard, is a great city for biking, especially if you commute during rush hour. You might be surprised how easy a 10, or even 15 mile commute can be, and at the peak of rush hour, you might get to your destination faster on a bike than you ever could in a car. If you live in LA, I would get down to Orange 20 Bikes right away, and find out what it would take to commute by bike. While you're there, get lunch at Pure Luck (who knew vegan food could so, so, so, SO delicious), and then check out Scoops (not really green, but mmmmm).
DISCLAIMER: My wife and I used to live around the corner from Orange 20, and I just need to pay back that awesome little community for the many good meals and deals they have given us over the years we lived there.
Ironically, since deciding to become a green consultant, I have found it increasing difficult to avoid driving. My schedule is totally up in the air, and sometimes I need to get across town on short notice in the middle of the day. In that situation, riding is not really an option. For that reason, I have come up with the crazy plan of building an electric motorcycle (or more realistically converting an old motorcycle to electric), but that is the subject of another post.