Enjoying Los Angeles Arts and Culture Without a Car


La Cienega/Jefferson Station on the Expo Line

Step-by-step intrux on how to: How to Enjoy L.A. Arts and Culture Without a Car.

Thoroughly enjoyed this enlightening and entertaining story by Alissa Walker in the L.A. Weekly blog. It’s really a blog post about a book, Car Free Los Angeles and Southern California, by Nathan Landau, a transit planner.

Walker, who navigates L.A. every day car free, writes about Landau’s ideas as how they work for a skeptical resident as well as someone visiting or a casual tourist. Both authors emphasize how Los Angeles public transportation has and is being improved, seemingly on a monthly basis — for instance, this week (on Saturday, April 28) the Expo Line light rail opens. Not only will this be the first light rail link to the west side in 50 years, it will also take one to museums in Exposition Park and some nice restaurants in Culver City.

I recently had the opportunity to show my brother and his family some sights of L.A. in one day – and we did make use of the Red Line subway for part of the trip. Sightseeing Goal: Staples Center. We didn’t need to park downtown, and we didn’t need to get on the Hollywood Freeway. That in itself, I’m sure, lowered my blood pressure a few points.

Walker also talks about some unique ideas Landau has about using public transportation for things such as food adventures – for instance, you could easily take the 780 Rapid Line (which Landau calls the “Food Bus”) and have culinary adventures from Little Ethiopia, Fairfax, Hollywood, East Hollywood and Los Feliz to Glendale, Eagle Rock and Pasadena.

Beyond the city boundaries, there’s mention of Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner which takes one either north to as far as San Luis Obispo or south as far as San Diego. She mentions a Santa Barbara trip, which is a great day trip or weekend getaway – and which I’ve done. The old Spanish-inspired station is right there on State Street – so walking one way takes you to the beach, the other way takes you to Santa Barbara downtown and all its museums, restaurants and shops. I actually went to a friend’s wedding that way – Red Line from my place (at the time) in Hollywood to Union Station, then Amtrak to Santa Barbara and my feet to the church up State Street. And back. It was wonderful – and so supremely stress free. I’m looking foward to doing more and more things in Southern California that don’t involve getting behind the wheel.

Thinking about going car free or car lite? The best book on the subject I’ve read is How to Live Well Without Owning a Car by Chris Balish. The keyword here for Angelenos who automatically scream or shake their heads is “owning.” Notice he doesn’t say “never driving, ever, ever again.” Definitely worth a read and a study – I’m clearly headed in that direction, though not quite there yet.

And for general frugality and alternatives to the consumerism we all grew up with, I want to plug Overcoming Consumerism, which does have sections on cars, but is about so much more.

Do you think it’s possible to live in L.A. car free? If so, what would you get? What would you give up?