“You hear all the sounds, you smell all the smells, the hearsay that you hear from the side,” he said. “It’s an entrancing, engaging experience.”
Each squeaky pedal that Hakeem Davis makes on his bicycle as he reaches the top of Griffith Park is like a cross-country train entering a station. Davis rides around at the top for a few minutes to catch his breath and wipe the sweat trailing down his brow.
“With my bike, it helps me feel like I can triumph the things that I thought I couldn’t,” Davis said.
As he starts downhill, he lets go of the breaks, lets the wind pin against his face and screams out into the soundless air. He is free.
Davis, a junior urban studies and planning major, has adapted his lifelong love for bicycling into his work and education schedules.
Since September, Davis has mixed multiple transportation modes to his commute to CSUN and work in Sun Valley from his home in West Hollywood. Yet his foundation remains with his bicycle.
“I think I got addicted to riding,” Davis said.
He said he rides three times a week from various locations and logs in about 120 miles throughout an entire week.
The distance between Davis’ West Hollywood home and the CSUN campus is 20 miles.
One of the biggest challenges for Davis has been the lack of speedy arrivals to his destinations. Riding by bicycle from his home to CSUN can take three hours, he said, so he only does it when the conditions allow it, such as his load he needs to take to school and the weather.
Most days Davis will use the Metro Red Line to the North Hollywood station and ride his bicycle from there. If the Orange line bus rapid transit, which runs from North Hollywood to Warner Center, is near he takes the bus to a station closer to campus and rides from there.
Davis said he makes compromises in his methods of travel as a way of saving time and money. Davis drives some days, bicycle in tow, to either the Balboa or Reseda Orange Line stations, parks his car, and starts his bicycle commute from those locations.
The diversification of using different modes has had positive financial return for Davis. The time has doubled from when Davis needed an oil change in his car and his gas tank lasts about two weeks before he needs a refill.
To ride a bicycle as often as Davis does, requires prior planning, he said. Yet the infrastructure is developing so bicyclists can ride safely and quickly.
Reseda and Balboa have bike lanes that stretch from the Orange line stations to CSUN.
Though using his car and bicycle in tandem has been helpful, Davis doesn’t see it as a practical combination, if he has to continue driving daily.
“I would have to say I like riding more and in the future, I see myself positioning my life around cycling,” Davis said.
On campus, Davis is able to ride up with his bicycle to the front of the building where his class is being held without having to look for street parking or a space in one of the campus parking lots.
“You pretty much park where you’re going . . . and you can use (the bicycle) throughout the day,” he said.
As a teenager, Davis said he rode to middle school and high school in Lakewood every day. He said he loved riding his bike because he could go where he wanted and explore undiscovered parts of his neighborhood.
“It gave me freedom as a kid,” Davis said.
Davis is active in promoting a bicycling lifestyle as the events coordinator for CSUN’s bike collective, in which he often shares his experiences of arriving to school with his bicycle.
The collective does weekly bike rides around the San Fernando Valley and participates in other rides in the Greater Los Angeles area with bicycle groups.
Touring Los Angeles on a bicycle, Davis said, is one of the most rewarding experiences of riding.