I recently made the jump from the east coast to the west, and have just settled in the beach city of Santa Monica, where I will be doing a bit more of the same: a little bar-tending, a little sailing, pursuing that dream of dreams, now in the City of Stars. One thing that I’d heard over and over again from experienced Los Angelenos before I moved is: “You’ll need a car,” “You have to have a car,” “You definitely should get a car” …welp, I have been here for over a month now, and I have some news to share.
You don’t really need a car in Los Angeles.
Los Angeles is a network of about twenty little cities that are all in near approximation to one another. Each little urban enclave has it’s own sense of identity; and when one chooses to live in that area, they adopt that identity for themselves. There are the gated communities in the hills, the sunny valley to the North, the sky-scraping hub of downtown, and the counterculture pockets dotting the East side. I live among the beach communities on the West side, with ocean air, slow pace, and cooler temperatures (Enter wool). But wherever in Los Angeles you end up, you will find your people there and you really won't have to leave your enclave, especially if you live near where you work. Presently, I have a little collapsible bicycle, which allows me to travel from my home up to the busy bar districts of Santa Monica, down through the artistic nooks and crannies of Venice Beach, all the way down to the largest marina in the western hemisphere. Luckily, if you do want to explore outside of your enclave, there is a very clean train system that runs from the heart of downtown and spreads its fingers in all directions serving the different micro-cities within the greater urban sprawl of Los Angeles. New bike paths are now emerging all over the city that allow safe passage through the streets with ever lessening traffic. When I do need to go to the other neighborhoods, the trains run like clockwork. And if I’m pressed for time: Uber and Lyft are so economical, the money you save on insurance, parking, and gasoline makes owning a car seem like more of a burden than a freedom. Other apps exist now like Turo, that allow you to rent a car for a day or two, so if I need to spend a day doing errands, or am planning a camping trip to the desert or the mountains, I can have that too. As a supporter of natural fibers, I am a supporter of the Earth. And in choosing to buy wool, I am choosing to buy fabrics that come from renewable sources (thank you Sheep), and thereby lessen my impact on the environment. In choosing ride a bicycle in a city that was once so dependent on cars, I am making the same choice. As an added bonus, cycling is good for your well being. It improves fitness and strength, and can stave off obesity. Thereby, reducing the public strain on the American Health Care system. It really is the answer to everything. One thing I discovered in my years of exploration is that one of the roots to happiness is eliminating the commute. It provides one with more free time to do the things one loves. It makes work as easy as a ride down the bike path, or a walk down the street. And as an added bonus, you are saving yourself money on the cost of a vehicle, as well as putting less carbon into the atmosphere. I have always attempted to keep my home and my means for making a living close enough where a car is not necessary. In places like New York City, this is the norm. My hope is that in the years to come other cities make bicycle infrastructure a priority, and the best way for that to happen is for you to make it a priority too.