Friday, June 13, 2008

Paddling Your Way to Work

Traffic and gas over $4 per gallon are boosting commuter ingenuity.
People grab their bikes, get on the bus, exchange their SUVs for smaller or hybrid cars, siphon gas from unlocked tanks, switch to local jobs, ... Yet noone beats George Calvarescu, who kayaks the 52 miles from his San Fernando Valley home to his Long Beach workplace down the L.A. River -- in his business suit. Video here.

"How has the commute been so far," asks LaLa Times? "Calvarescu admits that he's pretty wet and dirty by the time he gets to work, but manages to sneak in before his colleagues and use a company shower." Anything else? "I almost got tagged once by a gang, but they were so blown away by me, this strange guy floating down the river, that they dropped their cans and they now salute me when I pass their way and call me the Loco Rio Hombre." Does he miss driving his car? "If traffic is convenience, then I'm a monkey's strumpet!"

In the photo above, blogger George Wolfe also paddled the river to prove its potential use to commuters. Many cities around the world use rivers as daily transportation. Heck, even Parisians storm the bâteaux-mouches when the metro goes on strike. But the L.A. River, all concrete and muzzled? How many commuters can it realistically sustain? How could it even accommodate public transportation? And what happens when the water inevitably dries out?

Regardless of its feasibility, the merit of Calvarescu's initiative -- like the proposal to use the ocean for commutes -- is that it triggers people to think outside their box on wheels. No mention of his paddling back home -- upstream -- after a tiring workday, though.
[update 07/27/08: kayaking the river with LAist here & here]
photo Brian Vander Brug/LAT