Don’t listen to Missing Persons. People do walk in L.A.! So says Mayor Eric Garcetti, among others, including the blogger.
Although I think the Salon headline “L.A. Ditches Traffic Jams: A Hollywood Renaissance for Walking and Biking” leans a lot on wishful thinking, there does seem to be a lot more of both around town.
It’s very much a ‘hood thing, as in, you walk around where you live. If it indeed is something more recent, it harkens back to what the Los Angeles area originally was: a bunch of small towns that grew together forming one huge megalopolis.
And since the megalopolis isn’t possible to walk through (well, not without a tent and provisions, anyway) people find that they walk and live in their walkable neighborhood, whether it be Los Feliz, DTLA, Koreatown, or Palms (which, oddly, has a very respectable Walkscore for L.A. – who’d think that a westside neighborhood would?).
And so it is totally possible. In my 30+ years of living in Los Angeles (mostly, there was a several year detour to SF and also time spent in Palm Springs) I have noticed there are more people walking. One reason could be that the city itself has grown by nearly a million people in the last 30 years (the county has grown by 2.5 million) so there’s just more people, period, whether driving or walking or on the bus or train or what have you.
And the city has made itself more amenable to walking. In those last 30 years, there’s been an explosion of outdoor seating at restaurants, something that oddly wasn’t the case before that. Other neighborhoods have taken Westwood’s lead and encouraged small business district walking. I think the Metro has a lot to do with it – not only the location of subway and train stops, but also the alignment and total system coordination of local and rapid buses with Metrorail and regional trains is something that’s relatively new.
So we’re truly Back to the Future — a lot of the new rail lines are being built where long before there were Pacific Railway routes — and we discovered the most important thing was that they had it right to begin with. It’s great that you can have a human scale to the place you actually find yourself living.
I think that the L.A. “lifestyle” as presented to me as a newcomer in 1981 and the subject of cliche — the surf in the morning, ski in the afternoon, have dinner by the beach, etc. which absolutely depended on fast automobile transportation is just a thing of the past – it’s just not possible anymore without a helicopter. That’s not a bad thing. Come to think of it, we’ve got to work on getting all the helicopters out of the sky as well.