Biking to work has given me a new appreciation for quite a few things and given even more insight into several others.
For starters, I will never again take for granted the ability to get perfectly ready for work and arrive at work in that same perfect state. In my case, I get mostly ready, hop on my bike, arrive to work a little (or a lot, if it's sunny) sweaty, and finish up my routine, mostly fixing up my hair and de-sweatifying myself, in the bathroom. I also get to put on work pants over my bike shorts and trade running shoes for work shoes. If I drove a car to work none of this would apply.
On a more serious note, biking has really opened up my eyes to the pollution all around me. Los Angeles is, as far as I know, as car-centric as it gets (everyone here drives everywhere...even if it's just two blocks down the street), and this really bothers me. I always imagined California as being this great, green, environmentally-conscious state full of hippies, bikers, and hybrid-driving commoners. Um, no. I see relatively few fellow bikers (to be fair, I bike to work at 6.30 in the morning and bike home at 5pm, so I could just be missing them) who are actually biking to go somewhere, not just for recreation (trust me, there are plenty of those types on the Strand). I've only seen hippies in Venice, but there are a lot of them there, so I guess they make up for the lack elsewhere. (I also haven't ever been out of the Los Angeles area, so I can't say anything about the rest of the state. I heard I need to head to San Francisco.) And while I do see way more hybrids (read: Prius) than I have anywhere else, it's still maybe only 5-10 of the cars I see on my way home, which number in the 100s.
That's another problem. Cars are everywhere. You know what cars do? Pollute. I guess the pollution part doesn't bother me that much as a driver (I will be completely honest with you and tell you that I adore long distance driving, even if I claim to be trying to be environmentally conscious), but as a biker it's wrecking havoc on my body. Seriously, I can tell that my lungs are struggling with the air here. The air quality is not that good to begin with (especially coming from the wide open Midwest where you actually have room to breathe), but couple that with riding behind cars, trucks, semis, and airplanes (I live literally right next to LAX) and it's simply awful. It's probably even worse than all the secondhand smoke I inhaled in Russia. Lungs, I apologize for putting you through this.
Thankfully, one thing that I did expect hasn't come to fruition. I thought there would be a lot more trash than there actually is. Granted, there are shattered glass pieces strewn about the bike path (these patches are pretty scary because I don't have a tire patch kit or bandaids) and some other random trash along the roads, but for the most part everything is pretty clean. Good job, LA. But yeah, I'd appreciate there not being so much glass. I can't even figure out where it comes from...it's not like people are going to be chilling in the bike path having a beer on the highway.