Fairfax: Ped. Friendly, Bus Friendly and Bike Friendly

7_2_09_farmers.jpgPhoto: Sir Baldilocks/Flickr

(editor’s note: This is the fourth part of our ongoing series where residents defend the "alternative transportation friendliness" of their community.  While I’m still taking submissions at damien@streetsblog.org; I thought I’d share my thoughts on my community.  You can read previous posts on Claremont, Downtown LA and Mid-Wilshire for inspiration.)

When my wife and I first discussed moving to Los Angeles, we had a lot of the concerns that East Coasters, scared by the daunting image of Los Angeles as a Car Culture Capital.  To counter our fears, we used the Walk Score website to pick a community that would at least be walkable.  Thus, we ended up in the border area between the Orthodox Community and West Hollywood, the neutral zone between Beverly and Melrose.

However, this area turned out to be a great place for non-auto transportation.  I now live two blocks away from two bus stops, and have a somewhat longer although easily manageable walk to the Beverly Rapid Lines.  In about twenty minutes, these buses can take me to the Red Line stop at Beverly and Vermont where I can take a train that connects me anywhere.  A three seat ride isn’t a perfect trip, but I can get pretty much anywhere I need to go via transit with a minimum of walking.

But the ability to walk to get pretty much anything one wants or needs is the real attraction of the area.  The open-seven-day-a-week Third Street Farmer’s Market at Third and Fairfax is the anchor of walkability; but the wide sidewalks and crossings needed by the Orthodox community provides as complete a pedestrian network as you’re going to find anywhere in the city.

Food, entertainment, shopping is all a half mile walk away.  For someone like me, that loves to cook, to have access to an organic market, a Ralph’s, a Trader Joe’s, a Whole Foods and the Farmer’s Market all within a mile trip; well, that’s a piece of heaven.  And I still haven’t even mentioned the Pan Pacific Park right in the heart of the area for anyone looking for some open space.

While nobody is going to mistake Fairfax for Silverlake anytime soon, you have easy access to 4th Street for a relatively easy ride most of the way Downtown and can take local streets to the attractions along Melrose or Hollywood Boulevard.

Fairfax may not be the first place that comes to mind when Angelenos think of car-free, or in my place car-reduced, living; but there is something for users of every mode of transportation.

  • I live a bit further up at Fairfax & Santa Monica in West Hollywood, but I definitely love the transit and pedestrian accessibility of the Fairfax corridor. Every intersection between Sunset and Olympic has something to offer – and they are all accessible via the 217 and 780 Metro buses.

    If I were to ask for one thing it would be a direct bus connection between Hollywood and LAX via Fairfax. Perhaps with the opening of the Expo, the 439, instead of heading Downtown via the 10, could instead be redirected up Fairfax into Hollywood.

  • Before Waxman’s bill stopped the subway from going into his district back in the 1980’s, the original north/south route was apparently Fairfax, not Vermont.

    One alternative for a northern extension of the Crenshaw Line would run it up Fairfax or La Cienega.

  • Wad

    John von Kerczek wrote:

    If I were to ask for one thing it would be a direct bus connection between Hollywood and LAX via Fairfax. Perhaps with the opening of the Expo, the 439, instead of heading Downtown via the 10, could instead be redirected up Fairfax into Hollywood.

    How much demand would there be for such a service?

    You can kind of do it if you took 210 or 212/312 to the Green Line, took the train to Aviation and took the shuttle bus.

    Also, you’ve probably noticed that Metro has been getting away from frequent trunk-infrequent branch service in the past few years (i.e. Olympic). Line 439 is hourly, and for the few riders in Baldwin Hills and Ladera Heights, it would make the bus more unreliable because of the ridership and traffic on Fairfax that would cause it to be late down the line.

  • Anyone thinking what I’m thinking?

    Jewish groups need safe streets (for walking to temple).

    The mayor is an honorary Jew (trips to Israel, etc.).

    The mayor needs to be in favor of more walkable streets, or he is a hypocrite and an enemy of the Jewish people!

    Huzzah! Hassidic Walking Alliance anyone? Hwa hwa hwa.

  • Wad,

    I think a Hollywood-LAX connection is a major gap in Metro’s service. Santa Monica, Westwood, Downtown, and pretty much all of south county have direct lines to LAX. The quickest I’ve ever been able to get to the LAX bus terminal has been an hour and a half. The line would also serve the eastern SFV via the Hollywood Red line.

  • Hollywood to LAX is a challenge even in a car. It’s a 14 mile trip through some of the region’s most traffic clogged areas. There is no freeway connecting the two. At one time La Cienega was considered the freeway alternative, but would anyone in their right mind care dare call the street much of “a high speed transportation option” during rush hour today?

    One of the major reasons to support a Crenshaw line northern extension is that it would be THE ONLY rapid transportation alternative for the corridor. And if totally grade separated it would actually be competitive with the automobile. Google maps puts a trip from Hollywood/Highland to LAX at 33 mins without traffic, which considering it takes at least 10 mins to navigate out of Hollywood at any time of the day, I don’t put much credibility in. Nonetheless, it’s undeniable that with rush hour traffic it is a trip that would take a minimum of an hour. A Crenshaw-Fairfax line would be 35 mins. Even if the line did a Pink line swiggly type thingy to hit the Grove, Cedars Sinai, and Santa Monica Blvd, it would be a 40-45 min trip – still significantly under the time it would take to travel the distance in a car during rush hour.

  • Wad

    John, two questions I have about the need for a Hollywood-LAX service:

    1. What do you mean by “LAX”? The airport terminals, specifically? The perimeter of the airport? The Westchester area?

    2. Whom is the proposed line intended to serve?

    Damien outlined some very good points on why transportation to LAX is going to be a tough slog no matter what. A north-south line as he has suggested would draw impressive ridership numbers, but we must need to know where to put the end of the line at LAX and how to distribute people there.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Serving plane passengers is a waste of time and money. They have several options already. Transit would be redundant and, if offered, it would fail to either displace other traffic or meaningfully add to ridership along the corridor.

    Serving workers around the airport would be a better use of funds, but the jobs are nowhere near the airport terminals. The heaviest concentration of jobs are along LAX’s perimeter or closer to freeways. You’d need a central terminal and a robust feeder bus system.

  • dgoshilla

    I lived in the Fairfax area for 5 years and really loved it. I’ve recently moved over to La Brea/Santa Monica area and its more convenient. 10 minutes to Hollywood/Highland by foot. Ralphs, Trader Joes, Target, Best Buy around the corner. Arclight/Amoeba 15 minutes by foot. Further down La Brea are great stores and restaurants as well. Another bonus is all the amazing parks in the area like Poinsettia and Plummer.

  • By “LAX” I mean the LAX Bus terminal (Though in general, I think transit in the LAX area needs to be centralized around the Green Line El Segundo Station).

    The bus line I have in mind is basically the 439, except instead of heading to downtown it would head up Fairfax to Hollywood & Highland and connect with the Red Line. My reasoning is that with the opening of the Expo, Downtown 439 traffic would feed into the Expo, so having the 439 continue to Downtown via from the West LA Bus center seems redundant. Rerouting the 439 to Hollywood would preserve existing connections between Westchester/Fox Hills and Downtown while adding connections to Hollywood and North Hollywood Red Line trains.

  • Oh, and I agree with Damien that the Crenshaw RAIL line is the only real solution to the North-South corridor clusterf*ck.

  • Wad

    John von Kerczek wrote:
    The bus line I have in mind is basically the 439, except instead of heading to downtown it would head up Fairfax to Hollywood & Highland and connect with the Red Line. My reasoning is that with the opening of the Expo, Downtown 439 traffic would feed into the Expo, so having the 439 continue to Downtown via from the West LA Bus center seems redundant. Rerouting the 439 to Hollywood would preserve existing connections between Westchester/Fox Hills and Downtown while adding connections to Hollywood and North Hollywood Red Line trains.

    I see where you’re going with this.

    You’re probably thinking of extending 217 from the West L.A. Transit Center south to LAX via the present 439 routing.

    While it does open up Hollywood to LAX with a single bus, you’re recommending an approach Metro has been working to get rid of: attaching an infrequent tail to a frequent trunk route.

    It seems like a logical north-south extension, but most of the riders would stay along Fairfax and not continue south past the freeway, even though such an option is available to them. Also, the Fairfax traffic and ridership would cause the hourly part of the route to be constantly late. At least with the transfer, Line 439 has a better chance of meeting its schedule.

    What may be a better fit, though, is Line 220. It’s going to be reduced to hourly service, and the low ridership on Robertson matches the low ridership in Baldwin Hills. The catch is that it starts in West Hollywood.

  • Um, Wad–Line 220 used to go to LAX via Marina Del Rey with very out of the way routing up west of the runways past remote terminal etc. Very poor ridership. Well, maybe a more direct route would do better. But I doubt it.

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