June 9th was the last of a series of work trips to LA, this one for 5 days. For whatever reason there was not a hotel room to be had in downtown LA or nearby suburbs that week. I turned to Air bnb and found a studio in the Arts District, less than 3 miles from the office. This trip would be my chance to a get a feel what it might be like to live in LA.
I brought my Brompton for local transportation, and I hoped, to explore a little in the evenings. Travel with Brompton has gone well each time. I fly Southwest Airlines and check the bike in it’s hard case. The suitcase size and weight falls within checked bag guideline, so there’s no added fee. Each time it’s arrived in good shape.
My Air bnb host met me outside the building, even with my late-night arrival. He helped me up to the apartment, showed me around, and generously invited me to use anything I wished to – "my house is yours." He’s a cyclist too, and shared his thoughts on routes to use for my commute. It turned out is a photographer and videographer, staying with his girlfriend while renting the apartment. Great way to bring in some extra income.
Here’s the Brompton, in the studio and ready to roll:
The neighborhood was a former warehouse district evolving into an arts district and was an interesting place to walk and bike in. It was definitely a gritty area, bordered by Skid Row and near Little Tokyo and LA’s historic downtown. Because I was getting around by bike, people figured I lived there and greeted me as if I were a neighbor. The apartment was a pleasure to stay in and to make it even better, it had an amazing rooftop garden. If I were for some reason moving to LA I’d want to live in that building just for that serenity of that rooftop.
The other great thing is the building was right across from Urth Cafe, home of friendly staff, fabulous coffee and equally great food. I was there each day for breakfast. Of course if I lived there, I’d make my own breakfast like I always do at home.
The commute to the office was short, but challenging. I elected to ride it in my work clothes. The second half of the route climbs quite a bit, most sharply at the very end, so I was out of breath, red-faced and sweating when I arrived, even though the early mornings were cool. It might have been a little more comfortable to have a cycling outfit, but I had no wish to have to carry a change of clothes for such a short ride.
Just for variety I tried different routes in. The worst was when I tried a route involving Spring Street, which has green cycle lanes – not sharrows. These lanes are so popular, everyone wants to be in them. They are jammed with buses, cars, trucks, cabs…you get the picture. Hey, LA, how about some enforcement of the Spring St bike lane? That would be awesome.
The return trip was a much easier, though each day there was some very heavy traffic for the first mile. That’s a little harder when you are a visitor than when you’re home on familiar territory. After a couple of days I had a better idea of the the street options and was more confident about spontaneous route changes. There were no untoward incidents on my commute and the daily exercise and time outdoors was great.
I pretty much kept my body on East Coast time, meaning by the end of each workday I was very tired. I went to dinner with a friend one night, but I didn’t do as much exploring by bike in the evening as I meant to. Pretty much it was dinner and early to bed. I managed a fun 5 mile circuit around the neighborhood on my last night there. Here’s one of the things I saw. I don’t know what it is but it caught my eye.
It would take much longer to understand what it would be like to live in the Arts District but I did get a sense of it. I’m glad Air bnb and my Brompton let me have this experience.