When Michelle Morrow rides her bright blue bike around Los Angeles, she often gets strange glances in real life. Meanwhile, on TikTok, commenters swoon over her ride, dreaming of a more bike-friendly city.
Morrow bikes everywhere – to pick up lunch, to do laundry, to visit art galleries – and takes his 13,000 TikTok followers along for rides. In a city built for cars, his preferred mode of transportation feels like a revolutionary act in many ways. For the past three years, she has shown the good and bad of biking in LA under the TikTok username miche1ada, In one video, you see her roll by her favorite street stand in her South L.A. neighborhood, where well-maintained bike lanes are uncommon, and in another, she’s cut off by a car.
“I know a lot of people think LA isn’t bike-friendly, and I understand that we need better infrastructure, but I want to show people that it’s possible,” says Morrow, 29, Who is a native of South La. She works remotely as an event manager and rides a bike at least two to three times per week. She shares a car with her husband, which she uses for long distance travel or even at night.
The view from Michelle Morrow and her bike.
Videos of Morrow, usually filmed on a whim, show what she would be doing on her foldable bike, even when no one is watching. one in recent video, which has been viewed more than 70,000 times, Moro takes about a four-mile bike ride to visit a local brunch spot and coffee shop. As she walks down Avalon Boulevard, a small white, hands-free camera hangs steadily from her neck. Her bike is adorned with a baby pink decal that says “calajera,” a Spanish phrase—and her mother’s surname—for someone who is always outside.
During his journey, Morrow, who is wearing a black helmet and Platform Converse sneakers, points to a shopping cart and a sofa blocking a bike lane, forcing him to weave around them. She goes. In a soothing, almost ASMR voice, she talks about a local clothing vendor and nursery that she and her mother frequented as a child.
For Moro, who was making short animated video Concerning South LA’s rich history, before she started creating bike content, her TikTok videos have given her a way to do three things at once: proudly showcase her neighborhood, highlight lesser-known local businesses and Raise awareness of the lack of bike infrastructure where it lives.
“Though I know things are happening to build the infrastructure of the bike [here]I still feel like South Central is often forgotten,” says Morrow, whose obverse features the words “South Central.”
Disinvestment in mobility and safety infrastructure in South LA communities has been going on for decades. But it has become a hot-button topic in recent months because Los Angeles City Council voted Sending a measure to the 2024 ballot – if approved by voters – would speed up the establishment of bike routes, bus lanes and other transportation projects aimed at making the city safer for cyclists, bus riders and pedestrians Is. City Council President Nuri Martinez has said that the council should prioritize investments in neighborhoods such as South LA that have gone without.
As the youngest of four children, Moro grew up riding a bike, having been abandoned by her older siblings. When he started attending UC Santa Barbara cycling became more than just a hobby. Since he didn’t have a car or a driver’s license, he used his brother’s old mountain bike as his primary means of transportation.
After graduating in 2014 with a degree in film and media studies, Moro stopped biking for several years, but resumed it in 2019 after a significant trip to Tokyo, where she regularly interacted with locals. Riding a foldable bike, which he had never seen before.
“The infrastructure in Tokyo was so much more bike-friendly than LA or any American city I’ve visited,” she recalls. “So coming back [to L.A.]I had really missed out on the freedom we got while cycling.”
Once she returned home, she bought a foldable bike, then posted a tiktok videos Showing how easy it was to dismantle a 34 pound bike and put it in a shoulder bag. Later he sold and bought that bike Another foldable bike – The bright blue one – weighs 23 pounds.
The video garnered more than 220,000 views – the most viewed to date – and was flooded with questions about the Moro bike, including a user who asked to post a video of him riding it. Since then she has posted dozens of videos of her biking, primarily in South LA, but also in Other parts of LA County and in Santa Barbara,
Morrow says she enjoys riding her bike in LA because it allows her to experience her neighborhood, as well as other communities, in a different way.
“When you’re in your car, like getting coffee or something, you just get to that place and then leave. Not really interacting with anyone,” she says. listening to music with You are not getting any sound from outside, so you are completely oblivious to what is happening.
“But when I’m on the bike,” she adds, “I’m usually able to say ‘Hey, good morning’ to my neighbors. I’m able to randomly start up conversations with people, and you’re going to be around me.” -Pass gets to see more of what’s going on.”
Most days, Morrow feels safe riding her bike in LA, but she’s wary of the dangers cyclists face daily. As of Labor Day, according to LAPD data, there have been 13 bicycle-related collisions, resulting in fatalities and 79 serious injuries in LA.
Moro has spoken candidly about the moments on TikTok when she felt unsafe while riding her bike. In August, when he was a . was going home from jazz concertA stranger grabbed his waist from behind. The man, who was riding the bike, made a lewd remark, then froze before Moro could react. She initially posted a video on TikTok that featured the man’s face – which she had captured on her camera – but decided to take it down for security reasons. Some of his followers told him that they had a similar encounter in the same area near the South Los Angeles Wetlands Park.
“It really pissed me off, but it hasn’t changed the way I think about riding my bike,” says Moro, who usually rides during the day and employs pepper spray and loud sounding alarms. She’s since changed her course, but says, “I don’t want to let that experience take away my enjoyment of riding my bicycle.”
With the risks in mind, Moro encourages people to consider these safety tips when biking:
- For new cyclists, choose a route that has designated bike lanes to avoid riding on the road. There are many mobile apps, such as StravaThe map where the bike lanes are located.
- Wear your helmet.
- If you don’t have a rearview mirror, make sure you check the cars behind you often.
- don’t be afraid to ride sidewalkWhich is valid in the City of Los Angeles as long as you are not putting others in danger.
- Keep in mind heavy traffic hours.
- Carry a small bike pump if you get a flat tire.
After founding her biking community through TikTok, Morrow says she hopes to host a group ride in the near future — a request she’s received from many of her followers. She is also working on a photo project to showcase the diversity of cyclists in South LA, some of whom ride out of necessity, while others ride for fun.
“Usually people think of the cyclist as a white guy with sunglasses and spandex. But in my reality — or at least in Angeleno’s realities — it’s the members of the community. It’s the people getting the job done.” , ”Moro says. “Most of the time they don’t wear helmets. They don’t have all this gear, and if they do, it is temporary.”
Through the project and his TikTok content, Morrow says, “I just want to continue to tell the stories of people who ride their bikes who have been invisible for a long time.”