They Said it Couldn’t be Done – Living in Los Angeles Without a Car

The City of Angels is virtually synonymous with bad traffic. The greater LA area is home to more than 18 million people and mass transportation is limited to buses, which are subject to the same traffic jams as everyone else. There is no subway or light rail.

The great irony is that everyone knows that they need to drive less to meet their collective climate change goals. Politicians and celebrities alike harp on this theme endlessly. We need to do something to take more cars off the road.

What would that mean to a busy professional, or just a commuter?


First, you need to consider walking. This takes some planning, but before you hop in your BMW, think about whether the distances are such that you could walk instead. Or even walk part of the way by parking someplace and clustering your tasks – work, lunch, shopping – in an area easily accessible by foot.

Walking more is better for all of us anyway, given the epidemic levels of obesity and lack of exercise.

Hitching a ride

How many times do you go someplace with others? You jump in your car while six other colleagues do the same with theirs. Why not car pool? If gas cost $20 a gallon, this option would occur to people more often.

Do you have more than one car in your household? Maybe, by careful planning, you could get by on one.


Biking is becoming so popular, it is not unusual to see men in suits pedalling to work. The roads in California are constructed to make cycling safe and convenient. Much of Los Angeles is flat, too.

The fitness argument holds for biking as for walking. A recent study showed that people who bike to work are 40 percent less likely to die of the number one killer of Americans – heart attacks. Other diseases were much less common in bikers as well.


Uber has become so well-known, it is now a verb. (“Shall we drive or Uber to the show?”) Uber, and her sisters like Lyft and Wingz, have virtually replaced the venerable taxi, which was never as pleasant an option in Los Angeles as it is in New York. The genius of the Uber phenomenon is that it doesn’t put more cars on the road like a taxi company does; it takes them off by employing private cars already there. That used Acura MDX in Los Angeles is just as likely to transport hundreds of Uber customers as one driver over its lifetime.

Increased productivity

The unspoken fear of those who live in LA is, “If I don’t have a car, how will I maintain my schedule and my job?” In fact, letting others drive you around (i.e. Uber) and not having to search for parking can save you time. It also opens that unproductive time when would be behind the wheel to time for working on your laptop or spinning deals on your cell phone.

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