Adventures in CarFree L.A.: My One Month Without Wheels

I'm not in this line.

I’m not in this line.

Well, it’s been a month! I sold my car on June 7. It’s been 30 days without a car, and so far the world has not come crashing in on me.

Mostly, I knew what I would encounter. Since I work at home, there was no commute for that on a daily basis.

I’d already experimented with grocery shopping using my bike, now outfitted with panniers. So I knew that worked – if anything, the only thing I’d say about this month with no car at my beck and call, is that there were fewer to no impulse “treats” bought — like if I really really wanted that Haagen-Dazs or chilly refreshing root beer, I’d have to walk over or get on the bike. So there was less of that. My waistline is grateful.

I did experiment with going to the beach using public transport. I took the Red Line subway to the Wilshire Boulevard Rapid Bus #720, picking it up at Vermont. It deposits you right at Palisades Park, Ocean Avenue and Wilshire in Santa Monica, so you get right to the beach (a short walk down the steps and over the pedestrian bridge spanning Pacific Coast Freeway¬†Highway). The good: it gets you right there, for a total cost of $3 (that’s with 1 transfer, I bought a day pass for $5 which made more sense), I was able to read on the bus (Kindle on Android) and I got a seat both ways, which surprised me since it was a heat-wave Sunday, there was very little waiting time — that bus runs every few minutes, and the subway runs about every 10 minutes. No paying for parking at the beach or searching endlessly for a free space somewhere. The not-so-good: it takes forever to get there and get back, between 1.5 hours and 2 hours each way!¬†

So, if you’re spending a couple of hours on the sand, is it worth it to make what is basically a 4 hour round trip (it’s around 20 miles, give or take a few, across the urban congestion of L.A. and West L.A.)? I think that for me personally, next time I’ll plan to spend the day there doing things in addition to my sunworshipping on the sand. That way, it seems more reasonable for the distance and also, travel times would be both later and earlier, thus hopefully a bit shorter.

Then again, one of the tenets to car-free living in a gigantic place like Los Angeles is that you basically “live” in your neighborhood. The beach is not in my neighborhood, so I have to accept that. What I will say is that it’s pretty much a nightmare getting there from the valley with a car as well — unless you leave at 4 a.m.

I had one minor accident/mishap, totally my fault, and not on the street. It was in the lobby of my apartment building, where I foolishly decided to back up while still astride my bike. I got my foot caught in the pedals and fell backwards on top of the thing. I’m OK, and so it the bicycle, but it was a little bloody.

I’ll spare you a photo of that.

One thought on “Adventures in CarFree L.A.: My One Month Without Wheels

Comments are closed.