We all love happy stories about bicycling on LA streets. And biking is a great way to get involved in your community and meet new people. So when we heard about a Los Angeles bicycle commute that lead to an engagement, we definitely wanted to highlight it on the Bike Blog! Friend of the Blog, Jessica Ruvalcaba, has been an avid connoisseur of Los Angeles bikeways and even met her fiance while biking home from work one day. We interviewed Jessica about biking and living in LA… and that fateful day.
Thanks for talking with us Jessica. So tell us a bit about yourself? Did you grow up in Los Angeles? Have you always commuted by bike?
I grew up in San Diego and Riverside but I have been living in LA for the last 8 years, car-free. When I moved to LA, I was living in Hollywood and working at casting studios nearby so I walked to work and soon started biking. When my commute got longer I rode a scooter, and then a motorcycle, but after I got into an accident, I started biking again.
Now, I work at an elementary school in Northridge, which unfortunately is too far for me to bike to, so I usually borrow my fiancé’s car. When I met my fiancé, Devon, I was biking a 10 mile commute, which is kind of my limit, distance-wise.
So I’m told you and Devon met while riding bikes. Tell us the story!
I was riding home from work one evening – it was All Saints Day – and was stopped at a light heading east on Pico at Overland. Devon rode past me heading south and we smiled at each other. After he crossed the intersection, he looked back and I guess I was still smiling because he stopped, turned around, and rode back over to say hi.
He didn’t know too many people in L.A. at that time since he just moved from San Francisco to get his Masters at LMU. So we talked and he rode with me a bit and then we stopped for Ethiopian food on Fairfax. Right off the bat, we started talking about comparative theology and reincarnation. We definitely had an immediate connection.We ended up hanging out on the roof of my apartment building in MacArthur Park dancing and watching the stars. That was about 2 years ago and in January we got engaged!
Congratulations! Are bikes going to be incorporated into your wedding (a la Solange’s famous white bicycles)?
We might incorporate bikes into the wedding but our families are not as bike crazy as we are. Even though I have had to drive more recently, biking is still a huge part of my life and Devon’s as well. Devon rides his bike during his 4-mile commute most days to his job as a massage therapist. In 2013, we rode in the AIDS/Life Cycle fundraising bike ride from San Francisco to LA. It took about 7 days. It was an amazing experience. I would really recommend it.
I assume you would say bicycling is a great way to meet people! Are you involved with any other bicycling organizations? What is your advice to people who want to get to know their fellow people on bikes?
Biking is a great way to meet people! I’ve met so many people on bikes, but I’m pretty friendly so I tend to meet people wherever I go. I will say that you’re probably not going to meet anyone if you’re riding around with headphones on. It’s also kind of dangerous. I would recommend smiling and saying hi when riding if you really want to meet people.
I have been involved with a few local biking organizations. I volunteered at the Bicycle Kitchen but never made it “full-wrencher”. I also worked for AIDS/Life Cycle. Wolfpack Hustle events are also a great way to meet people, Midnight Ridazz’ are great for partying, and S.W.A.T., which is an all girls group who like to ride really hard.
What bike amenities would you like to see in your neighborhood? What would your dream bikeable neighborhood look like?
Safety is always an issue. I think a safer bike route along PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) is really needed. My dream bikeable neighborhood would have bike lanes protected by parked cars. I also think that more transit would really encourage people to bike, especially for commuters who have to drive between the Valley and the Westside or Mid-City. Maybe one day!
Great suggestions, Jessica. We’ll keep you posted on those cycletracks! ;)