(Reprint -somewhat modified- of an article I posted on CV some time ago.)
There are many frustrating myths about Los Angeles. Many of them are formed and/or perpetuated by people who are simply unaware of so much about the city because theyâ€™ve only seen it from their cars. You cannot see much of the full life of this city in a car. You have to get out of them and move more slowly, and at street level. Walking, cycling and buses are best for this. This leads me to one of the other frustrating myths. The myth that there is no public transport. To begin to blow that myth apart, have a look at this map (click for larger) for the impressive coverage of the city afforded by the bus, subway and train system:
You can get more information from the MTA site, for example, and a bigger version of that map, into which you can zoom down to street level. There are schedules, route planners, online tours of the beautiful (and highly underused) red line subway stations, and much more. See also the LADOT site, and especially the DASH buses for quick local trips. No, the system is not perfect, but it will not improve rapidly if we don’t use it. And, no you can’t use it for all journeys that you want to do, but it can be used for some of them. Yes, you do need to plan ahead, and maybe work to a schedule sometimes, but that’s true for most transport systems, not just LA’s. It will never be as convenient as a car, but that’s not the point. Furthermore, you can broaden the scope of what you can do on the system with the aid of a bike, in combination with the buses and trains. (Almost all buses have bike racks on them, or use a folding bike and just take it on to the bus, like I do.)
Iâ€™ve spoken earlier about public transport (such as the fact that it exists but almost nobody uses it), and Iâ€™ve spoken about walking, and cycling. But it must seem all so abstract. So in a fit of frustration at not being able to bring you all along with me and just show you, I decided that Iâ€™d take you with me on one of those mornings when I decide on the way to the bus stop that Iâ€™m not going to stop for the busâ€¦.. Iâ€™m going to go all the way to work on the bike. Yesâ€¦.the cute little Brompton folder that I sometimes talk about.
So anywayâ€¦I just thought weâ€™d see what I see routinely as I go into work if I cycle all the way. Itâ€™s not all guns and violence, itâ€™s not all highways and concrete, itâ€™s not all empty scary sidewalksâ€¦etc. It is thrivingâ€¦.wonderful life! Get out of your car and see it too, some time.
We pick up the journey on Hollywood Blvd, where we are passing one of my favourite hole-in-the-wall burrito stands. Dee-licious. Immediately after is the Barnsdale Sculpture garden, and across the street from that is a nursery of some sort, with wonderful colourful murals on the walls.
After crossing Vermont Ave and carrying on, we pass the excellent Wacko store in Los Feliz (I had to quickly cross the road to get a better shot of the mural) which is just full of wonderful things. More on that later perhaps.
Across the road from that is one of my favourite local food stands. The family in there seem to know me pretty well now, and it is always a pleasure to see them and get a house burrito. Mouth-wateringly delicious. With a cup of horchata, youâ€™ve got an amazing meal for under $6.00â€¦..
Then thereâ€™s the Vista, a block further along, just as we merge with Sunset Blvd. What can I say? One of the early classic movie palaces in this area (Hollywood/Los Feliz) with all the wonderful faux Egyptian stuff inside, which was all the rage. Theyâ€™ve kept it running as a first run theatre, with one film showing for a whileâ€¦you buy your ticket from the little man in the booth under the overhanging canopy and then it is torn in half and you go and find a seat. They took out every other row of seats some time recently and so you can really stretch your legs and enjoy the huge screen and wonderful sound that they have to offer. These guys appreciate film.
Just after the Vista and just past the local plant nursery (Sunset Nurseries) I point out to you the Kitchen, on Fountain. Excellent food, I hear. Must try it sometime. (Havenâ€™t yet.) Oh, and just a bit further along is that place I go to when my equations get too difficult and I want to get a new solution. Jokingâ€¦â€¦
This is the Silver Lake Conservatory of Music (we wandered into that neighbourhood -SilverLake- soon after Kitchenâ€¦still going along Sunset Blvd) which was apparently set up and is still supported by Flea of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers (this is their â€˜hood)â€¦. This is a rather nice place. Note that weâ€™re moving along the stretch of road which was closed down to accommodate the Sunset Junction street party I went to a while back. Wonderful.
Andâ€¦ oh yes, there are cafes and restaurants with seats spilling out onto the sidewalk. Excellent. This is not supposed to happen in LA, according to the myths. Well, here it is. And on your bike you can stop and get a cup of something and a bit of a think at a momentâ€™s notice. And not worry about parking.
Of course, thereâ€™s another hole-in-the-wall place. Mmmmmm Fish Tacos. (Actually, Iâ€™ve not tried this one yetâ€¦..)
Well, thatâ€™s enough to be getting on with. Weâ€™re not even ten minutes into the journey yet and weâ€™ve seen so much and the morning is lovely. Weâ€™ll pick this up in a bitâ€¦..See you in a while.
Some Related Asymptotia Posts (not exhaustive):