Imagine about 30 people bicycling through Los Angeles in tuxedos and gowns en route to the Emmy Awards.
Well, that happened Sunday, and 31-year-old Nebraska native, Tamika Butler, was one of them.
Butler, the executive director of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, hopped on her bike in a tuxedo and rode about 20 miles in heat near 100 degrees from Santa Monica to the Microsoft Theater in downtown Los Angeles.
The goal: to raise awareness for cycling as a form of transportation and remind people that commuting to work can happen just about anywhere.
“It’s no longer cars versus bikes – we are all in this together,” Butler said. “You can ride your bike to work and different places – even if your work takes you to an event downtown, you can bike there.”
Butler said biking to the Emmys started last year and was the brainchild of Tom Smuts, an avid cyclist and writer for the AMC television drama “Mad Men.” Smuts, who was nominated for Outstanding Drama Series with the rest of the producers of “Mad Men,” commutes to work often. He first biked to the Emmys last year with help from the LACBC and wanted to do it again this year.
“It was hot. He could have taken a limo,” Butler said. “But not only did he do this because he commutes every day and it’s something he believes in, he shared that experience with us. He’s a very generous guy.”
Butler’s staff planned the route and coordinated a lot of the behind-the-scenes work to make the ride happen.
Other celebrities on the ride included actress Erika Christensen of NBC’s “Parenthood,” and actor Jon Huertas of ABC’s “Castle.”
Butler said this was the first-time Fox organized a bike valet on the red carpet for the group. There was also a police escort for the last stretch of the ride.
“Fox was on board. The Television Academy was great. The police were great,” she said. “It was a true testament to how the different parts of L.A. came together – everybody working together and making something cool happen.”
Butler grew up in Bellevue and graduated from Creighton University in 2006 with bachelor's degrees in sociology and psychology. She received her juris doctor from Stanford in 2009.
She practiced law for a few years before dabbling in some policy and health care work. She realized being an attorney wasn't what she wanted to do and sort of fell into her role with the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition in December 2014.
She wasn't always passionate about biking. When a doctor told Butler she was at risk for diabetes, she knew she had to do something to get active. A friend recommended buying a bike and Butler thought it was a joke. She didn't understand how someone could enjoy biking for fun. She trained for a seven-day ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles and hated it. She planned to put her bike away in her garage and leave it there.
But it wasn't long before she missed it. She started riding it to the store and to see friends. It eventually became a habit.
"My health improved dramatically," she said. "Being on your bike is clearing your mind.
"Part of the reason this is the best job I've ever had is because I get to do something that is also a hobby and get paid for it," Butler said. "It makes me happy and makes me have fun every single day."