Tag Archives: living without a car in los angeles

Life on the Gridline

Share

rail_mapCar Free Update: After two years and three months of living car free in Los Angeles, I’ve noticed a few things about my habits.

One of these is, I tend to live along gridlines. By that, I mean that the places that I frequent in my life — that are not walkable from where I live — are mostly along arterials, either bus or train public transportation routes (see our rapidly expanding metro train diagram to the left) or safe streets with bike lanes.

I guess it’s common sense; why people always say that wherever they put a light rail stop is a huge boon to a neighborhood. It’s convenience, right?

I first really noticed this, because I hadn’t been consciously thinking about it, when I was riding with someone who had a car and we went on streets I used to drive on all the time, and was presented with completed, new buildings that I didn’t even know were under construction. That’s how long it’s been. (This was La Brea Avenue in Hollywood.) I wouldn’t ride my bike on that street; it’s too busy, there’s no bike lane, it’s a recipe for death. Also, there’s no “must” destination there, at least not in my current life. So, in other words, no reason to go.

So life is streamlined. I always go back to one of the first articles I read on Streetsblog which planted the seed that if you go car free in a city the geographic size of Los Angeles, you’re going to basically live in your neighborhood. For me currently this is Valley Village/Studio City/North Hollywood. Going to the far reaches of West Los Angeles or the beach is for special occasions or for that Uber/Lyft ride. I pretty much live a life centered in my neighborhood but bounded by the larger grid of Burbank Boulevard on the north, DTLA on the east, Beverly Boulevard on the south, and Robertson Boulevard on the west.

Funny, these boundaries are mostly where they’ve always been for me, for thirty plus years, I’ve lived a life pretty much bounded by Silver Lake on the east and West Hollywood in the west. I guess public transport has really opened up Downtown LA for me, because previously it was just such a traffic and parking nightmare I’d do anything to avoid it. Those days, quite nicely, are gone.

Car Free, Two Years and Counting . . .

Share

I sold my car to CarMax in Burbank on June 7, 2013.

This is a picture of my bike, a few months ago, at a stop for donuts. It’s called Don_t Time. (cause the only thing missing is U) The person in the photo is just someone else stopping for donuts, it’s not me. I took the picture.

The donut stand on Magnolia and Keystone in Burbank.

The donut stand on Magnolia and Keystone in Burbank.

Ironically, yesterday I had to make a trip for which the clearly most appropriate way to get there (to West Hollywood from my house in Valley Village) was by car. So I called Uber, and the driver that picked me up had the exact make and model car that I sold two years ago (a Scion Xa).

So, an update, how’s it going, you ask?

I’d be lying if I didn’t say that sometimes I make plans in my head to buy another car. I’ll tell myself, yes, you should just grow up and buy a car, by the end of the year. I mean, you can’t ride your bike forever, what are you, 60? Yes, I’m 60. But then again I don’t ride everywhere. I do ride around the neighborhood, but I also walk a great deal, take a good amount of buses and trains.

And sometimes, like yesterday, a car is the best option and I’ll call an Uber or a cab. Still, even a pretty liberal use of services like those is so much cheaper and better for the environment than actually owning a motor vehicle is.

So I tell myself, along with the plan to buy another car, to do a month of car-sharing before I’d ever actually pull that plug on the car-free experiment. If I’m truly not happy using, say, Uber for those destinations that are just too late or too difficult then, sure, go ahead and buy that car and have all that misery refunded (sorry, 12-step, I’m borrowing some of your language).

What I suspect will happen is that I’ll still be car free when 2016 rolls around. Because I love saving all that money. Cause I really do like to walk. Because the lower amount of stress in my life (from not owning a car) is something I feel deep in my bones.

It is eminently doable, for those of you on the fence. Try it, what have you got to lose? You can always get a car again.

In the meantime, it will be me still ordering those 40-roll packs of TP from Amazon and using my Uber app when I just have to get to Santa Monica in a hurry for tacos or something.

Gotta go – riding the bike over to my neighborhood movie theater. They have a special free bike parking section out in front.

 

 

The Real Reason U.S. Gas Is So Cheap — We Don’t Pay the True Costs of Driving

Share
I'm not in this line.

I’m not in this line.

Thought this was interesting — especially because I don’t think Americans generally realize how much the automobile – not just the gas but everything associated with them – is heavily subsidized by government, which means taxpayers, which means all of us.

Or it’s at least not top of mind. We are so used to the relatively low cost of gas, we just freak when it gets near $5 a gallon, not realizing that even that price, which seems outrageous, is really outrageously cheap!

I urge you to read it for the perspective, because we often don’t think about the externalities of things which in our economy are not often paid for. Or they’re paid for by someone else. And/or we all suffer for it.

As the linked article points out, the federal gas taxes we do pay are not enough to offset highway construction and repair, as originally intended, so everybody pays for roads whether they drive or not. I don’t really have a problem with this, even though I don’t drive; it’s like I don’t have a problem with my taxes going to public schools either, even though I don’t have children in them. (Don’t want to live in an uneducated society, no thanks, thankyouverymuch). And, to be fair, I ride the bike on those roads and also walk on them, so I do use them.

I’ve often thought that real folks who make out here, the real bandits, are the auto companies themselves — as they really do require paved roads for their products, which are fairly useless without them. How much do General Motors, Ford, Toyota, Daimler Chrysler and all the rest pay for road construction?

What’s that noise? Crickets?