The mode less traveled

Nick Ramirez ’14 kills the engine of his Kawasaki Ninja 300 motorcycle and dismounts, removing his helmet and red leather jacket.

“Most motorcyclists call cars cages, and that’s exactly how I feel,” Ramirez said.

While the majority of students drive or take the bus to school, a few like Ramirez opt for more unconventional forms of transportation.

Ramirez has ridden his motorcycle to school since March of last year, and says he enjoys the speed it affords.

“It takes me 20 minutes to get to school, even though I live 45 minutes away,” he said.

Ramirez said he always wears a helmet and protective jacket when he rides.

“When I first got the motorcycle my mom was really freaked but she went to the dealership with me and started to read up on it and now she’s really behind it and thinking about getting one herself,” he said.

However, not everyone is on board with Ramirez’s choice of vehicle.

“I get either ‘Oh, that’s really cool’ or ‘What do you think you’re doing? That’s the most dangerous and stupid thing you could possibly do,’” Ramirez said.

Other students prefer slower means of transport.

Kay McCarthy ’14 began riding her childhood scooter to school last year when her parents could not drive her and now uses it up to four days a week.

“The trip usually takes me 30 to 40 minutes, depending on how heavy my backpack is,” McCarthy said.

McCarthy lives only two miles from school, but can’t drive herself, because while she has a license, she lacks a car.

“People kind of doubletake [when they see me riding]…,” McCarthy said. “Some people think it’s funny. One time, some people took it and were riding around school, which was fine, but I was trying to get home and I was like ‘My scooter’s gone!’”

Some students who live close enough to school have the luxury of walking.

“I used to live a mile away, so I’d walk or ride my bike, but then I moved,” Ben Greene ’14 said. “Now you can see the upper school flag from my house, so I just walk. It’s great.”

Greene said it usually takes him about five minutes to get to school.

“It’s great to walk because you can clear your mind,” Greene said. “I can wake up, if I’m good at getting ready, at about 7:40 a.m. Last year, every other day I had first and second [period] free, so I needed to be at school at 9:40. I didn’t wake up until around 9 or 9:10.”

Students who live farther from school must allot more time to transportation.

Mario Portillo ’15 wakes up at 6 a.m. every morning and catches the public bus that takes him to the subway station. He then rides the subway to another metro station to catch another bus that drops him off at the corner of Ventura Boulevard and Coldwater Canyon Road, from where he can walk to school.

“With traffic, the trip will take about two hours,” Portillo said. “Without traffic in the morning, it’ll take about an hour and a half.”

Portillo said he uses the time onboard to rest, since it’s usually too bumpy for him to do homework.

“I’ve been taking the bus since I was 11, so I’m used to it by now, but driving works miracles so I’d prefer driving over taking the bus any day…” Portillo said, “My dad doesn’t want to teach me how to drive, so that’s a first issue… He says I’m not ready yet.”

Other students who live closer to school choose to bicycle.

“I enjoy biking; it’s relaxing and a little meditative,” Anser Abbas ’14 said. He rides his bike half a mile to school every day.

David Goldberg ’15 bicycles a mile to school each morning.

“I live so close to school that there’s really no point in my driving,” Goldberg said. “With traffic, it’s actually faster if I bike, and that way I get to sleep in later.”

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