Tag Archives: car sharing

Uber, revisited. . .


imgres Well, I saw this story in The New York Times and I could not stop myself from commenting once I stopped vomiting!

Am I the only who finds it really tedious that reporters such as this one think that Angelenos’ dream is to ape New York City in all respects?

Now I understand the the Times is a New York paper and would have that bias, i.e., reporting on things New Yorkers would be interested in. But. Seriously.

Until Uber turned out to be a douchebag company that exploits its workers and scoffs and sensible safety regulations for its drivers and their cars —  I thought it was a game changer myself. And the idea still is, whether it’s Uber or Lyft or some other company that finally makes this sharing a winner for both the buyer and seller. Even the guy profiled in the linked story says Uber has become a “soulless psycho monster.”

Maybe it would have made more sense to title the piece “How Car Sharing is Changing Los Angeles Nightlife,” but that would’ve been less sexy.

But New Yorkers, please, look at a fucking map. Look at distances. And learn some history. Los Angeles has a huge public transportation infrastructure: a subway, light rail and enormous bus system. The current construction of multiple light rail lines at once is the largest public works project currently underway in the United States. At least one place in the country is thinking about infrastructure. Though from this article, you wouldn’t know that the guy who takes Uber from Hollywood to DTLA could also easily have taken the subway for a fraction of the cost. He could have taken a bus. Or a cab. So it’s not like these options did not exist before.

I do applaud those who get out of their cars and actually commit to a car free life in Los Angeles; it takes some doing.

Hundreds of thousands of people in Los Angeles take the Metro every day in all its permutations for every possible need; they don’t own cars. What is truly astounding is that this article seems to have discovered something when it hasn’t. It truly must be a “white girl (or guy) problem” to figure out how to drink in both Koreatown and West Hollywood on the same night without getting a DUI or calling a pesky taxi company.

Newsflash to the Times: I’ve been going out to multiple locations at night for over 30 years in Los Angeles. Often with car, often without. Whatever it is, it’s certainly not a new thing. It wasn’t new when I was in my 20s, and it’s certainly not new now.

Also – this story fails for its conflating the opening of the Ace hotel as a reason DTLA is becoming a “destination.” Just swallow the obvious Ace PR hype without question here, dear writer! DTLA has had a cultural renaissance for at least over 10 years, going on 15. The opening of the subway lines in the 90s had a lot to do with it. DTLA does continue to get more hip with each passing year; it does get more interesting as well. However, the Ace has nothing to do with it.

“Untethered from their vehicles, Angelenos are suddenly free to drink, party and walk places.” — umm, like that wasn’t done before?

Before “Uber was a thing” — there was a “thing” called taxicabs. I know, it’s hard to believe.

And for the Uber driver who says LA is almost like NY – seriously? LA, thank the goddess, is not full of Duane Reades and Citibanks on every block. There’s no snow. There are palm trees. A gazillion other differences, the key point being L.A. does not aspire to be New York.

It’s like what we used to say about the New Yorkers when they complained they couldn’t get a decent bagel or slice of pizza at 3 a.m. — if it’s that important to ya, move right on back. We don’t really care.

Those are the easy cliches – but what I would say to the newcomer who’s trying to get the best of his New York life and seamlessly transfer it to L.A. – hopefully, you’ll find that a Southern California lifestyle isn’t really about getting to and from restaurants and bars/clubs. It’s about the outdoors – from the beaches to the mountains and everything in between. That’s a big part of what being an Angeleno is. I hope he figures that part out.

OK, rant over.

C’mon, Share, Kids, You Know You Want To.

photo thanks cleanairgardening

photo thanks cleanairgardening

Or even if you don’t, you can’t afford to not share anymore.

I wanted to share this NYT piece about sharing – even though it’s a couple of months old, I agree that the new sharing paradigm is important, and wanted to acknowledge Tina Rosenberg’s opinionator.

Access, rather than ownership, is what drives the future of commerce, according to this theory.

**ANOTHER UPDATE: Los Angeles Times ran a story today on Airbnb issues in Silver Lake. 

When I was a little kid, I never really understood why everyone on the block had to have their own lawnmower – mowing was such an odious task (I grew up before the explosion of the service economy, so dads and kids – and the occasional mom, to be sure – took care of the yard work). I hated cutting the grass. We tried to avoid it as long as possible. The truth was, though, the longer the grass got the harder it was to mow with those manual push mowers (see above), which is what we had. But I digress. The point I was trying to make is that the mower was used maybe once a week, once every two weeks if there wasn’t much rain. So the “block” we lived on probably could have shared one or two mowers if someone had figured out how to organize it. (I’m sure there were smarter localities that probably did. BTW, the photo isn’t of anyone I know.)

I previously posted on car-sharing your own car; in the end I opted to sell it instead and become car-free.

Rosenberg divides the new sharing economy into what are called full mesh schemes (like Zipcar) and own-to-mesh (like Airbnb, etc). Full mesh means a company owns something and rents it out (as in cars, for Zipcar) and own-to-mesh is a gazillion little owners renting out what they have, like Airbnb, or like the personal car sharing companies I talked about in my previous post.

I never understood why people didn’t share WiFi in small apartment buildings or areas that could be wired appropriately – like they already do in office buildings or hotels. Obviously, the telcos have much dinero to lose and that’s why they’ve “encouraged” everyone to lock up their WiFi. (For those of you who’ve been on it a long time, you know this was not always the case and most people didn’t password-protect their service when it was first rolled out.)

I’ve even heard of people who make their monthly rent by renting out a few nights on Airbnb and staying elsewhere – even, at times, in their cars (if they have them) – which seems a little extreme to me, but hard times can call for desperate measures. Maybe Airbnb is the 21st Century equivalent of the “rent party?”

But how does this all work in a system where the economy is dependent on consumerism and continued consumer spending, largely made possible by debt? Well, the answer is kind of simple. It doesn’t work for that kind of economy.

Perhaps we’re on the threshold of something new, both for the way we live our lives and for the health of our yearning to be sustainable, finite planet. (But expect a lot of wailing and gnashing along the way. It won’t be pretty.)


Personal car-sharing: yep, that’s right, not everyone needs to OWN a car


should I, could I, rent out this baby?

Personal car-sharing is a new twist on auto rentals

Click on the link above to read about the newest twist in car sharing – apps that allow the average person to “share” their vehicle by renting it out.

The brainchild of a guy who noticed how much of the time zillions of vehicles are just parked, not in use, not doing anything, sites like Getaround, Wheelz, JustShareIt, RelayRides and others allow the enterprising person (yourself, maybe? me, maybe?) to either rent or rent out a car.

This is brilliant, it reminds me of the old idea of the fugitive “hiding in plain sight” – only this time, it’s our consumerist mindset that’s hiding. We were conditioned to believe that we ALL needed to own these things, that otherwise it would just be too difficult to get around, do things, to live, etc. (And believe me it was planned conditioning – there was/is no innate “need” to have things like cars.)

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