Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods = transit viability 

I've said this before, but today was a classic case of the reason that I can use transit as a viable alternative to owning an automobile. I don't need a car for basic needs.

After work I decided to visit my local branch library. I could have hopped on the DASH bus to take me the seven or so blocks from the Subway station, but I decided to walk. My local branch library was just completed a couple months ago, and is off Sunset Boulevard. Considering the site, they could have tried for a mixed-use building instead of a single purpose library (like several examples I saw in Portland), but I'm not complaining. I took a few minutes to select a book, and then started down the street towards my new neighborhood Target store. I checked out the new store and picked up a few items before walking back up a couple blocks to the Ralph's supermarket (now that the grocery strike is over) to buy some food for dinner.

These three trips took me a little more than an hour at a somewhat leisurely walking pace. I'm sure it would have been faster with a car (though not amazingly so with traffic and parking in a garage), but I got the added benefit of a little physical activity as well. Plus I didn't have to circle for a parking spot when I got back home ;)

Monday, March 08, 2004

It's fun to have a car every once and a while ;) 

With a list of errands to do, and the desire to visit a few friends and relatives for a change (instead of them visiting me), I decided to rent a car for the entire weekend. I made a reservation at Enterprise Rent-A-Car, which was running a weekend special for $9.99 a day for a compact car (Dodge Neon or similar). On Friday afternoon, I walked over to their office at Pershing Square to pickup the car. They didn't have the car I reserved, so they offered me a choice of a Chevy Silverado truck or a Mitsubushi Eclipse Spyder Convertible. Well, not wanting to be driving this big gas guzzling truck, I took the convertible.

Well, the weather turned out to be perfect for a convertible, and I have to admit after the initial acclimation period with any unfamiliar car, I really enjoyed driving around with the top down. If I had known I would be driving this car and the weather was going to be so splendid, I would have planned to take a trip up the coast. The case being otherwise, I settled on visiting my friend in Marina del Rey and driving around Venice.

Because of the street closures due to the L.A. Marathon on Sunday (and the grand opening of Target at La Brea and Santa Monica), I didn't get to enjoy driving the car as much as sit in traffic. It took me almost two hours to get from my apartment to Pearl Arts & Crafts store at La Cienega and Pico, return some stuff, and then get to a relative's house in Echo Park.

The transportation bill for the whole weekend came to $52.34 (including 3 day rental and 9 gallons of gas @ $2.20). Not too shabby, eh?

Thursday, March 04, 2004

Chatty mornings and quite rides home 

I'm noticing that more people seem to be open to chatting with their fellow riders during the morning commute into work than the afternoon ride home. Maybe it's because in the morning people feel perky and ready to take on the world. Not being a morning person, I certainly don't feel that way. On the way home, people look more tired and grumpy, and tend to keep to themselves -- the exception being those people not going home from work but heading to some fun event like a game at the Staples Center, etc.

Yesterday I overheard a conversation between two women going to work in the morning. One of them lived in Valencia (that's the suburban frontier for you non-L.A. folks) and worked in Downtown, just steps from the 7th/Metro station. She said she liked taking the subway so much (since it gives her the opportunity to read or knit -- which she was doing on this occasion) that she drives to the North Hollywood station and takes the train into work each day (she also mentioned how the "outrageous" price of gas keeps her from driving all the way in). The whole time, I wondered why she doesn't take the Metrolink train? It would certainly give her more time to knit.

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