The Little Dictator's pre-school is on summer break. Which means my wife is expecting me to put some real effort into this parenting thing.
I shifted that responsibility onto other people under the guise of "enrichment:"
Also, some friends of ours needed someone to look after their kid this week for a couple hours a day. They were obviously desperate since they entrusted their child to my care and supervision. I was super-stoked that the three of us would be biking into DTLA together every morning because I rarely get the chance to use the front bike seat and backseat on my bike at the same time. A mom I know likened my enthusiasm for finally getting to use both bike seats to how excited she felt when she got to break out an unused fondue pot for a party she was hosting. I'm not really clear on what a fondue pot does, but somehow I know that we understand one another.
Having two kids on the bike also seriously upgraded my street cred:
This past week I got thumbs up from at least three bike messengers which is about the highest my cool quotient has been since the early 2000's. Okay, I made up that part. I wasn't even cool in the aughts.
My two co-pilots and I had a ridiculously good time on the commute. The conversation revolved around police cars, fire trucks, helicopters, and construction equipment. They also sang the ABC's and Daniel Tiger's theme song for me in stereo.
One of the highlights of our commute was watching the sun peak out from behind the crane attached to the Wilshire Grand Tower. When it's completed it will be the tallest building west of the Mississippi. The boys got to watch it being built.
They also admired a drilling rig:
On day three I consciously changed the subject of conversation from things with internal combustion engines to murals. The boys counted over twenty-five murals on our four mile bike ride to camp. One of the faves was the grizzly bear mural painted on the wall next to the 7-11 on the corner of Vendome & Beverly. I really liked that the artist used pointillism to create the mural. The dots were about four inches in diameter, so the boys were easily able to see how the individual circles contributed to creating the whole image. Love those damn teachable moments. Also, who doesn't like grizzly bears?
Other landmarks we admired were Lafayette Park (the skate park there has really talented SK8RZ), The Bullock's Wilshire (the boys agreed it looked like a rocket), MacArthur Park, the view of South Park from the bridge over the 110, and the hustle and bustle of Seventh between Fig and Grand.
HOW WE DID IT
First, I have to admit that I cheated. I only had to bike into DTLA with two kids. After dropping off kid #2 downtown in the late afternoon, I only had the Little Dictator with me on the way home. The ride into DTLA from Silver Lake is mostly downhill. Had I been responsible for pedaling both boys and their school crap back up the very long, steep hill on which our house sits, I'm not sure I would've made it. At the very least, there would've been tears. Their tears as I made them hitchhike to the top.
We road on Bellevue to Silver Lake Blvd. then continued through the intersection before turning right onto the sidewalk. After riding "salmon" on the sidewalk for one block along Silver Lake Blvd, we hung a left on London which is a residential sized street.
Hang a right at the first street: Vendome. Vendome is also a pretty calm neighborhood street that allows you to cross under the 101 without taking an arterial like Hoover or Silver Lake Blvd. Luckily, it also runs all the way to Lafayette Park. There can be a homeless encampment along the sidewalk under the bridge, but the people living there almost always wave and smile at us as we ride by, so I wouldn't let that dissuade you. You also might want to be a little more careful with this route in the evenings on weekdays. Rush hour commuters sometimes use it as a cut-through, but outside of weekday evening rush hour or very late at night when the kids would be asleep anyway, I've always felt safe here.
The only other challenge with Vendome is crossing Beverly & 3rd. There are crosswalks at both intersections, but Beverly and 3rd are essentially inland highways where they intersect with Vendome. Make sure you make eye contact with the drivers and confirm they are stopping in ALL FOUR LANES as you walk your bike across in the crosswalk.
Vendome ends at Lafayette Park. Cross 6th at the light and hop onto the sidewalk for one block. You can bike through Lafayette park to the corner of Wilshire & S. Lafayette Park Pl. or just hang a right on Lafayette Park Pl. from the sidewalk along 6th.
Once you cross Wilshire Blvd., hop onto the sidewalk near Chuck E Cheese and ride "salmon" to 7th Street. Take a left into the bike lane on 7th and ride it all the way downtown. Take note that you will pass LAFD fire station 11 on your left after you cross Alvarado. This brings much excitement in my household.
I'm a big fan of the 7th street bike lanes. They are much calmer than the Sunset Blvd. bike lanes. After reaching downtown, hang a right on Grand Avenue, then after half a block turn left into the Whole Foods parking lot. The bike racks are on your left. These bike racks are a great place to lock up because there is a lot of pedestrian traffic and a security guard watching the parking lot.
Another mom who lives near us was doing the same commute to French school by car. In the morning, her drive was only about five minutes faster than our biking. She also had to pay for parking at every drop off and pick up. Her commute: 40 roundtrip minutes a day of slogging through traffic. Our commute: Fifty roundtrip minutes a day of traffic-free fun, cardio, and enrichment.