Somebody Walks in L.A.: A Brooklynite Writing for GOOD Magazine


For those that have missed it GOOD Magazine is running a series by Ryan Bradley about walking in Los Angeles.  Bradley, a Brooklyn resident, basically sets down at LAX and heads out to conquer the city by foot.  Once you get past the idea that a progressive online publication can just drop a New Yorker off in L.A. and expect them to write intelligently about our transportation issues, you discover that Bradley has some interesting things to say.

Everyone gets the joke there, right?

In addition to providing an interesting narrative about his own 70 mile trek through Los Angeles, and some of the connected cities such as Culver and Beverly Hills, Bradley makes several good policy points as well.  For example, from his introduction post, Bradley makes the case that things are getting better, that the tide is turning, in L.A.

But the truth is people do walk in L.A. And bike. Fully 12 percent of
all trips in Los Angeles are by bicycle or on foot—that’s more than
Austin or Portland. In sheer numbers, L.A. has more bikers and walkers
than Washington, D.C., or Chicago, or even San Francisco. And it
happens to be far safer for biking and walking than all three,
according to a 2010 Benchmarking Report by the Alliance for Biking and Walking.
I lump walking and biking together only because, until very recently,
so did everyone else. In the 1990s biking and walking were
"alternative," like rock music. Fifteen years ago, Los Angeles spent "about $1 million"
a year on pedestrians and bike services. This year Los Angeles has
earmarked $36 million on walking alone. Could it be that this western
cow-town, this place that’s synonymous with self-reinvention, is
reinventing itself?

As of the moment I’m typing this, there are three parts to the series, with more coming.  You can find the entire series, or at least what’s been published so far, at the Walking in L.A. page on GOOD’s site.

  • Carter Rubin

    Well he references Streetsblog with that “about $1 million” quote, so he must be smart :)

  • LOL, Damien!! We’re glad you got plopped down in LA to write about our streets. Woooot! Woooooot!

  • Erik G.

    Interestingly, LAX is easy to walk to or from. It actually has pedestrian access which leads to the rest of the city sidewalk system. You cannot say that about most large airports in America.

  • Joseph E

    Yeah, try getting out of SJC, OAK, or SFO as a pedestrian. I tried once at San Jose, and nearly gave up after ending up on a near-expressway without sidewalks. Then, by the time I found the light rail and got to Downtown, the bus I meant to take to Fremont BART had stopped running. I ended up sleeping on a bus bench outside the Caltrain station, waiting for the first morning train.

    At least LAX has a frequent, if poorly advertized, shuttle to the Green Line, and pretty good express bus service to Westwood and LA Union Station, and a major bus transfer center nearby. Those are much better options for accessing the city by foot.

  • The irony here is with an international airport, you don’t necessarily want or need to be walking distance of beautiful downtown El Segundo.

    When your neighbors are El Segundo, Westchester or Playa Del Rey, they tend to complain bitterly about every little thing… noise, pollution, traffic…

    Much better to be out in the country where your next-door neighbor is going to be a rice farmer. Or a cactus.

    Some of the best airports that I have been to were not walking distance to anywhere in particular, but they were walking distance to a lovely luggage-friendly train platform or even the local equivalent of a Flyaway bus.

    LAX should be in Palmdale. Or even Ontario. With a Cal HSR link to the city.

  • While the writer seems like an intelligent person, this trope of dropping an outsider in LA to marvel at the wilds of brown people circulating through this crizazy decentralized city has gotten more than a little old (see also: Reyner Banham, Jean Baudrillard, the LA School). There are lots of us living here and trying to change the city through our actions while facing the harsh realities of inequalities related to income and race, and I do feel that our activism gets erased when even well-meaning outsiders show up and play conquistador to LA as undiscovered New World.


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