So it’s been four months now in my car-free L.A. experiment. Other than three weeks in August when I was in NY (of course, I was also car free there!) I’ve been here the whole time, in L.A., in Valley Village, basically the core of the summer as we often describe it (or as the Beach Boys did, from “July to the end of September,” Beach Baby).
So how’s it working? I’m happy to report all the walking and biking has certainly kept my weight steady – I’d lost about 20 lbs. since March and have been able to maintain that. I do realize the biking portion of the program has really been assisted by a) warm/hot weather and b) the extended daylight of summer. Will my willingness to ride places be compromised when it gets dark at 5 p.m. in a month or so? I have good lights, I could use more reflectors and reflective clothing. I also like these things that light up your wheels.
Do I still worry about how my decision will be perceived? (Are you a loser? Are you too poor now to have a car???) Honestly, yes, still a little bit – but much less. I guess I’ve become the weird old guy on the bike.
The reaction from a couple of my friends who I thought would be shocked that I sold my car was really rather mild — and while I wouldn’t say hugely supportive — was not unsupportive in the least. Others are extremely curious about how I get places and do things. Almost without exception, people here in L.A. understand why someone would want to get rid of the car — the source of so much frustration and irritation here, not to mention the money pit aspects.
Anecdotally, I pick up that more and more people are trying public transport here — of course, that’s a middle class person’s luxury problem. But the truth is that L.A. and the Southern California regional area have made great strides in the past decade-plus on its public transport infrastructure, and it’s working better and just a whole lot more pleasant than it used to be.
More of that, please!