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Car Culture

LA First impressions

4:20 PM PST on November 13, 2007

Over the next couple of weeks, I'm going to give my impressions, as a new Angeleno, on LA's transportation system. Today, I'll look at roads and car transport. Later this week, I'll give my pedestrian impressions, both in my neighborhood and in the downtown. A little later I'll do some analysis of the transit system (using a scorecard I'm stealing from my friends at Blogging the Region). Lastly, once my new bike gets a clean bill of health from the bike kitchen, I'll write on LA's kleve of bikeability.

The other posts in this series will all have graphics. Sadly, I can't take pictures while I drive, unlike some people.

To mock LA as being the car culture capital of North America is almost a cliche at this point. But what I've seen so far makes me believe that you can't say enough bad things about Angeleno's car commuting habits. A drive from my house (just north of Beverly Blvd. a mile west of the Grove)to the Foothill Transit fare hike meetings takes over two hours and twenty minutes at rush hour. A drive from the ventral library to home takes 40 minutes (using the 101 to Melrose) while the same trip using surface streets takes about an hour and fifteen minutes. Lets not even talk about my trips to Woodland Hills to see my brother.

But maybe its a good thing that I couldn't drive faster than a couple of miles an hour. The highways (and surface streets) are in terrible condition. Even zipping along at 20 miles per hour, the car was shaking like I was back in high school driving my Isuzu I-Mark.

The question I really have, and this is for the people that commute by car on a daily basis, are you people nuts? What advantage is there to living in one of the greatest cities in the world, with beautiful weather 350+ days a year if you're going to spend months of that year sitting in traffic? If you don't have access to transit or a safe bike route, may I suggest living closer to where you work or to a transit line?

Los Angeles is the national leader in percentage of commuters who commute by car. Sadly, my initial investigation into how the state/city/country spend their transportation dollars (much more on that after Thanksgiving) it looks like car will remain king in the area unless there's a major shift in funding priorities. Given the statements of out leading presidential candidates, and that our governor is doing nothing to stop fares from increasing, it seems that I shouldn't be holding my breath.

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