There’s a famous saying: “Nobody walks in L.A.” If you’ve ever been to Los Angeles you know that the saying is close to the truth. L.A. is where cars were crowned king and their kingdom spread across the nation and the world through the movie industry. But not everyone drives in L.A. just to cross a street. Margaret rides her bike to work every day, and for her Anything Goes Challenge she did the unthinkable–WALK. This is her story.
I like to ride my bike to work from my home near Los Angeles International Airport to my job in Manhattan Beach. Door to door one way is 30-60 minutes and 4.5 miles if I take the city route and 9 miles if I take the popular bike path along the beach known as “The Strand”. My commute takes me past the stereotypical SoCal landscape…aerospace industry, movie studios, million dollar homes and the beach.
When I read about the Anything Goes Commute Challenge, I was intrigued. I’ve always wanted to try, just once, to walk to work. But I didn’t want to walk all the way home. For this challenge, I decided to take public transport TO work and then walk home FROM work.
The Commute To Work: Transit
To complete this challenge I needed public transit timetables and routes. Living a 10 min walk from the Metro Line station, I am familiar with the Metro train service. However, I have only a vague idea of the bus service. I know which bus passes by my office, but have no clue where to board near my house.
Using Metro Trip Planner, I plugged in my travel details and came up with a dizzying array of possibilities, which I narrowed down to three:
- Walk 0.6 mi to bus stop, catch City bus #1. Transfer to Metro bus #2. Walk 0.1 mi to office. Total: $1.40.
- Walk 0.9 mi to Metro Line. Take train, transfer to Metro bus #2. Walk 0.1 mi to office. Total: $3.00
- Walk 1.3 mi to bus stop, catch Metro bus #2. Walk 0.1 mi to office. Total: $1.50
I chose the most expensive option, #2, because I wanted to get in three modes of transport. Also, I could use my Transit Access Pass (TAP) card for the entire trip.
Advantages of Transit: The bus and train stop are an easy walk from my house. The service is frequent during rush hour, so no stress about missing my boarding and the TAP card was easy to use. I enjoyed being in the hustle and bustle of morning commuters. My commute is just short enough to be a pleasant experience and almost as fast as commuting by bike. I enjoyed experiencing little moments such as the man selling steaming hot tamales and coffee at the bus stop.
Disadvantages of Transit: Riding the bus and train are more expensive than riding my bike, and my exercise is limited to just 13 minutes of walking. By 10:00am I was tired because I didn’t have my ‘wake-up’ ride. And the bus does not pass by the stores I frequent, making it inconvenient to run errands after work. I was initially concerned that the walk to the Metro station might not be safe in the dark since it passes liquor stores, run-down motels and a former strip joint. But after I walked it I decided my fears were unfounded.
The Commute Home: Walking
For the commute home, I walked the 4.5 miles. I couldn’t have picked a better day. Temperature was sunny and 65F, light winds at my back and a downhill or flat walk. I chose not to walk my bike route home, which is quiet and mostly through residential neighborhoods, but instead a route that includes 2.7 miles along a major, six lane boulevard. I chose this route so that I would pass small shops and a mall.
Walking down a major boulevard is just as stressful as biking it. What an eye opener! I was hyper-vigilant to the cars exiting driveways as well as drivers making turns from intersections, all without bothering to check for pedestrians. After one mile, I abandoned the plan to continue on the boulevard and instead cut through a mall parking lot. I stopped for a half hour break to collect my wits and enjoy a Happy Hour appetizer of baba ganoush and water, before heading off to a ‘quieter’, yet major street.
Advantages of walking: I noticed even more walking than when biking. Retired professional soccer player and sports commentator Alexi Lalas jogged right past me. That’s a different type of exercise than biking.
Disadvantages of Walking: It takes a long time to get to destinations and probably won’t be as pleasant once the warmer weather arrives. I must wear proper walking shoes (Skechers, ftw!) and am limited by what I can carry, so it’s not ideal to pickup groceries along the way.
Overall Assessment: Biking to work everyday is by no means a ‘rut’. However, it was nice to mix it up for a change by taking the train and bus. I really enjoyed the feeling of living in a city with proper public transportation, even though L.A. isn’t quite there yet. The bus and train were clean and on time. I liked seeing all types of commuters taking advantage of public transport. I was pleasantly surprised when my train arrived at 06:07a with standing room only. Also, by taking a different route to work, I was able to see that there are a lot more cyclists out there (I only see a few when I bike).
What’s Next for Margaret: This will not be my last time utilizing public transport to get to work. I am positive that I will not be walking home anytime soon, but instead taking option #3 and walking 1.3 miles home. Thanks Ladyfleur, for putting me up to the challenge!
Thanks, Margaret, for participating in the Anything Goes Challenge and proving that somebody walks in LA!
All photos in this post are courtesy of Margaret and are used with her permission.