Virgil Begins the New Year on a Diet

I travel across Virgil nearly everyday (or as much as my laziness allows) to a workout class. Again I’m trying to start the new year with the obligatory resolutions like ‘lose weight’ and ‘get into shape.’ My desire to work off the holiday’s excess trumps my laziness right now so I decided to ride my bike over to Crossfit Silverlake on Monday. During my “start the new year off right” jaunt, I came upon this on Virgil:

Virgil closed for repaving--Is this the start of the promised new bike lanes?

Virgil closed for repaving–Is this the start of the promised new bike lanes?

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The next day, Tuesday, laziness won out (so much for resolutions) so I didn’t have a chance to see the Virgil’s progress. Wednesday, New Year’s Day, I rode to Crossfit again and they’ve completely paved the road plus dot it with plastic post-its to mark the temporary travel lanes. The construction workers were off enjoying their holiday.

Post-its marking the temporary travel lanes

Post-its marking the temporary travel lanes

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These lanes are a culmination from the community’s demand to remake their streets safer for walkers, joggers, strollers and people riding bicycles. I attended a community outreach meeting several months ago for the proposed bike lanes on Virgil between Santa Monica and Melrose and they are part of City of Los Angeles’s 2010 Bike Plan.

So one week goes by–nothing–no work.

On my second week of good intentions, I’m back riding my bike to my Crossfit class. I’m surprised by a painted middle lane the separates the northbound traffic from the southbound. A turn lane has been added. Looks like a traditional road diet I think to myself. But wait. What’s this? There’s only one northbound lane which is what I expected but there are still two southbound lanes, plus parking on either side of the street. I’m confused by this configuration much like I’m confused my propensity to gain weight so easily over the holidays. Still there are no bike lanes. No paint markings just parked cars where there should be bike lanes.

Northbound's single lane

Northbound’s single lane

Southbound has two lanes

Southbound has two lanes

I miss the morning class the next day and discard my good intentions like the dried up christmas trees I see next to many homeowners’ green trash bins. Instead of beating myself up for missing class I decide to ride over to the evening class.

There are continental crosswalks!

Continental crosswalks at Virgil and Lexington

Continental crosswalks at Virgil and Lexington

After two weeks of waiting for the bike lanes, they finally arrive. These bike lanes connect to the bike lanes that begin at Virgil and Santa Monica on Santa Monica Boulevard to nearly Sunset. They stop abruptly before Sunset Junction. The new Virgil bike lanes also connect to the ones on Myra to Effie.

New lanes on Virgil

New lanes on Virgil

Virgil isn’t the only one starting the new year on a diet, my Crossfit coach decided it would be good to leave our excesses behind with the previous year and start the new year with a Paleo Challenge. For those who have been living in a bomb shelter or the space station, the Paleo diet is now all the rage. Like any band wagon diet, it cuts out a lot of tasty grains and replaces them with lots of meats. It’s suppose to mimic what a caveman and women ate back in the day.

Gone are the kamut flour biscuits now there’s almond flour ones, because cavemen picked almonds off the tree and milled their own flour. Gone is brown rice and in its place–cauliflower rice–because cavewomen were harvesting cauliflower florets, even though their origins are traced to the mediterranean in 600 BC. Why let facts get in the way of a sexy new diet?!

Here’s my Paleo take for breakfast: salmon and cauliflower hash with almond flour biscuits. The salmon croquettes made with almond meal, eggs, onions and jalapeños make up the hash along with the boiled cauliflower. The biscuit is actually a combination of almond and coconut flour.

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salmon and cauliflower hash with an almond flour biscuit in the foreground and kamut flour biscuit background

Oh look. How did that kamut flour biscuit get in the background? That’s not Paleo! I now find diets, no matter how sexy, worthless. I did this Paleo Challenge back in August and lost ZERO pounds, so I don’t subscribe to anymore diets. But I did tell my coach that I would try…

Road diets like Virgil are the prescription a community demands from the excesses of bloated boulevards serving only those driving in cars. However like most diets we never seem to make them go far enough where it becomes a permanent change or lasting solution. If we want real change, it has to begin in our minds and our behaviors. Painting a line of the road doesn’t make permanent lasting change. Nope. That comes by deciding as a community enough of the temporary fixes. Let’s refashion our streets for everyone–walkers, rollers and riders to use safely and securely.

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