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Thread summary:

How to live without a car in Los Angeles, bus routes, bike routes, how to get around Los Angeles on bicycle, no late night buses, car free living

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Old 03-20-2009, 10:17 AM
 
526 posts, read 1,021,272 times
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Default A year without a car in LA

Finally found the money to buy a car. Woo hoo! I lived almost a year car-free in Los Angeles. Here's what I learned about car-free life in LA.

I live at the 10 fwy and La Brea and work in Brentwood. That's about 10 miles on the bike. By bus it is up La Brea to Wilshire (212, 312) then down Wilshire (720).

I live near the neighborhood where my grandparents grew up, but, I grew up in Orange County.

The commute on a bike is not so bad. It takes a little less than an hour. The trick is trying to not die. I got a bike route map from Metro and tried to use bike routes when possible. The bikes routes are scattered about at random and don't really connect or have any coherent plan. The drivers are impatient, and potholes are everywhere. I found that Venice Blvd, Santa Monica Blvd, 18th/Monte Mar, and Airdrome are good routes east/west. The only safe way under the 405
in West LA is Ohio.

The commute on bus is frustrating. I could never tell if it would take one hour or two hours. Some days, the traffic on Wilshire in the westside would be gridlock. On those days, I found it faster to walk to UCLA from Brentwood to catch the bus than to catch the bus in Brentwood. Also, even though the 720 buses run all the time, the north/south buses down Crenshaw or La Brea run much less often. I spent a lot of freaking time standing in front of Blockbuster on Wilshire/La Brea waiting for the 212. I didn't mind being on the buses. They were fine. It is the waiting for buses that makes you feel like a loser.

Buying food was annoying. I bought a lot of my food at the liquor store or Mexican market, because the grocery store was too far. I couldn't bring myself to steal a shopping cart or to buy one of those wheely baskets that old ladies use to push home their shopping so I never bought more than two bags of food at a time. I bought a lot more fast food and pizza because it was just easier.

Tried buying groceries online. Universally all of those web interfaces suck. They are slow and flash-heavy. Then you're stuck at home for hours waiting for them to show up. It was easier to buy food at the store.

My social life changed a lot. The child-friendly suburbs where my good friends now live were too far to visit. They came by sometimes, but, I felt guilty that they were doing all the driving. I'm too old to make new good friends.

I spent a lot of time at bicycle group events. That was good fun. After awhile I had made some decent acquaintances. The best way not to feel like your lifestyle is abnormal is to surround yourself with people just like you.

I did get to know the social life within walking distance of my house. When I had a car, I probably never would have gone to Fais Do Do, Jewel's Catch One, or the Cork. I would have been up in Hollywood instead. So that was cool.

There are very few late night buses. Pretty much if I wanted to go out at night on a bus, I could only go to downtown. I've learned a lot about downtown. It is really beginning to come alive again.

Without a car, I really wanted to have friends on my block or in my neighborhood. I know all my neighbors and we are friendly and civil. I go to all the local community meetings, and people know me. But since I didn't grow up there, I'm not really friends with any long-term residents, and its hard to make that sort of connection, especially when you're shy, middle-aged, single, white, and gay in a neighborhood of black and latino families. But I really have tried.

The neighbors I have hung out with most are also short-term residents, white, and gay. I feel bad that so much easier to make friends with my own tribe, but, it is.

I'm way more fit than I was from biking a lot. And all my credit cards are paid off because I saved so much money. But in the end, I missed my friends, and I just wanted to go the grocery store or Home Depot like a normal person.

I guess my big conclusion to this whole thing is that it is doable, but, Mid-City is probably not the neighborhood for this sort of thing. For a single guy without a car, you need to live where your friends are. You need to live near a couple of places to hang out. And you need to live near to a grocery store. It might have been easier in denser parts of town like Echo Park or WeHo or Santa Monica.
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Old 03-20-2009, 10:49 AM
 
Location: LA
6,156 posts, read 11,417,512 times
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interesting observations. a couple of questions for you though: did you ever rent a car? are there hourly car rental places near your home? have you considered a motorcycle/scooter instead of a car? i know that owning a car is convenient, but it is also expensive and can be extremely annoying at times when your sitting in traffic. anyways, good luck with whatever your ultimate decision is.
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Old 03-20-2009, 10:52 AM
 
526 posts, read 1,021,272 times
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I did rent a car once to get out of town.

I've already bought a new truck. I'm still going to try to bike to work, because it isn't really slower than driving.

No hourly rentals near here.
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Old 03-20-2009, 11:08 AM
 
938 posts, read 2,479,207 times
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Indeed.

Living a mass transit and bicycle-oriented lifestyles in LA, aka ground zero for autocentricity, requires alot of patience, sacrifices and concessions, but it CAN be done. Oh, and all of those nay-sayers who say that people "don't use the bus" really let their true colors fly; behind it all is the underlying contempt towards minorities (they aren't deemed people in their eyes). How can a jam-packed 60ft articulated bus not have any people on it?

It is a general rule that N/S buses SUCK! I'm still pissed I spent 45minutes waiting for the supposed Crenshaw "Rapid" yesterday. 5 buses passed in the other direction. Whatever, though... dizzying monotony of ghetto-ized automobiles, storefront churches, auto-body shops, hookers, trannies, hair salons, missisippi soul food eateries, fast food chains, check cashing places and unpredictable characters kept me on edge. The only somewhat reliable N/S buses I can think of off the top of my head are the ones plying Vermont and Alvarado, with an honorable mention to Western. La Brea, Crenshaw, La Cienega and Fairfax (no weekend service!) have all left me frustrated,disappointed, and in the cold.

I can't relate to the food deal, but I can say that mass transit has allowed me to delve into LA's rich ethnic food scene. Fruit stands, hot doh stands, taco trucks, panaderias, pepuserias korean bbq's, armenian chicken rotisseries, thai eateries in Thai Town, banh mi's, etc etc.

I've also patterned much of my social life around transit. Spending alot of time (with like-minded people) in Koreatown, Silverlake, Hollywood and the greater Miracle Mile/Fairfax nexus, but also West Adams/Mid-City, Echo Park and Downtown. Transit is probably at the helm of my blog's relative success, since of course, I wouldn't be able to photograph and get such a grip on LA if it weren't for a decent robust bus system and a stellar, budding train system.

Lastly, I'm saddened to here that the usually kind, welcoming citizens of that area (I'm very familiar with it) haven't exactly warmed up to you. Though I do have to admit, moving into a primarily Black nabe and hanging out with what little whites are there can make you come off as non-inclusionary, or as if you have a beef/problem with Blacks (the ubiquitious Black response: "he thinks he's better than us")
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Old 03-20-2009, 12:14 PM
 
526 posts, read 1,021,272 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by King0fthehill View Post
Lastly, I'm saddened to here that the usually kind, welcoming citizens of that area (I'm very familiar with it) haven't exactly warmed up to you. Though I do have to admit, moving into a primarily Black nabe and hanging out with what little whites are there can make you come off as non-inclusionary, or as if you have a beef/problem with Blacks (the ubiquitious Black response: "he thinks he's better than us")
Yeah. As is always the case with human relationships, it is hard to know how much of that is about my failings and how much of that is about others. But, I don't want to give the impression that people have been uncivl. Everyone's been nice.
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Old 03-20-2009, 12:49 PM
 
Location: CITY OF ANGELS AND CONSTANT DANGER
5,404 posts, read 7,691,574 times
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i do the bus and the train during the week, in conjunction with rides from friends.

on the weekend its not as much of an option. especially for longer distances. i do it. but its not the best.
i am fortunate enough to live in an area where shops and stores and other stuff is close by and we are served by several bus lines. the buses run on time, but after 9 pm they are less frequent. so you are very right, the bus can be your best friend, but that depends on the area you live in and your ultimate destination.

as for the bike. a friend of mine who was without a car for about as long as you was doing the bike/bus bit. he said it was truly dangerous. and not because of where we live (south side and the east side). but because of traffic and peoples general blindness to bikers. dont get me wrong, were we live there are tons of guys on bikes. lots of men who cant obtain licenses for whatever reason ride bikes. but people dont really "see" them. i have noticed that they will ride on sidewalks , so that can play a role. some ride on the streets along RR tracks, but it is dangerous none the less.

either way its good that you did what you did. you are healthier. you reduced your carbon footprint. you made friends. you are that much better. congratulations.

in the meantime i will be a weekend driver. even tho i also limit my weekend driving, sometimes i prefer to not drive. other times im going form one end of the county to another...

such is LA life.
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Old 03-20-2009, 03:20 PM
 
Location: San Francisco, CA
300 posts, read 670,278 times
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Im proud of you(even tho, you are gay, contact me thru PM if you want help). Every American should do that, to save environment and to get AMERICANS FIT. Americanss are so fat nowadays.
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Old 03-20-2009, 03:24 PM
 
Location: Home is where the heart is
15,402 posts, read 17,425,301 times
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Several years ago I lived without a car for about 9 months in Redondo Beach. I was doing it to make a point, I guess--plus going through a challenging divorce. It was reassuring to discover a car-free life was doable. But, it got old. The busses don't service the south bay much, and sometimes they weren't very reliable. Even if the bus is late only 1-2 times a month, you never forget how annoying it is to waiting on a street corner holding a bag of groceries. And some days it wouldn't arrive at all, I'd have to wait an hour for the next one. Don't know if that's still true ('cause once I bought a car I rarely took the bus again, even though I meant to.)

I liked riding the bus, though, and loved riding my bike and walking. Sometimes I'd ride from Redondo to UCLA--fun but very time consuming and sometimes it felt dangerous (especially riding through Venice or West LA where the drivers are crazy). I must say life got better once I finally bought a car!
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Old 03-20-2009, 04:12 PM
 
Location: CITY OF ANGELS AND CONSTANT DANGER
5,404 posts, read 7,691,574 times
Reputation: 2163
im sure the only help you can offer is probably help getting off...

i hope it was a joke. otherwise: homeboy dont need help. leave him alone

Quote:
Originally Posted by FinnishAmerican View Post
Im proud of you(even tho, you are gay, contact me thru PM if you want help). Every American should do that, to save environment and to get AMERICANS FIT. Americanss are so fat nowadays.
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Old 03-20-2009, 11:17 PM
 
Location: Whittier
2,096 posts, read 2,199,317 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FinnishAmerican View Post
Im proud of you(even tho, you are gay, contact me thru PM if you want help). Every American should do that, to save environment and to get AMERICANS FIT. Americanss are so fat nowadays.


LOL wut.
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