Car-Free and Car-Lite in LA: where to live

Bumper to bumper traffic towards LAX, Los Angeles County, Southern California, United States of America

Go car-free and avoid this. (Photo: Pranav Bhatt/Flickr)

In light of recent U.S. Census Data that suggests car-lite and car-free households are on the rise in Los Angeles, we’ve compiled a list of the best locations in the region where minimal car use (car-lite) or never needing a car at all (car-free) is possible. Though there are many subtle lifestyle adjustments to reduce car dependency which don’t require packing up and moving, by far the best opportunity to make a significant change is when selecting a new place to live or work.

Whether you’re a new or future resident unfamiliar with the lay of the land or a longtime Angeleno looking to escape a grueling commute, keep reading. For our regular readers, please don’t forget to tell us what neighborhoods you think should make the list by commenting — this is a post we want to be helpful to those who already live here and those moving to our region.

The list is by no means scientific and we recognize that no neighborhood will be a one-size-that-fits-all. We made our choices by taking into account factors such as access to transit, pedestrian-friendliness and bike access (using scores from walkscore.com), local amenities and connectivity to other neighborhoods. Give it a few years and this list may very well change as Metro continues to build the transit system with funding from Measure R, the sales tax increase approved by local voters in 2008.

5. Culver City

Culver Hotel (Photo: Joseph Lemon / Metro)

Photo: Culver Hotel

Culver City wouldn’t have appeared on this list prior to 2012, but thanks to the opening of the Expo Line last year, the city has joined the ranks of one of regions top transit-oriented locations.

Its appeal to the car-free crowd will only increase when the Expo Line is extended to Santa Monica, which is expected to open in 2016. For now, Culver’s transit options work best for those who work or go to school in the east, where the Expo Line currently connects them to the University of Southern California and Downtown Los Angeles.

To the west, Metro Rapid Line 733 connects Culver to Venice and the beach and Santa Monica; alternatively a bike lane on Venice Bouelvard does the same for two-wheelers. The Ballona Creek Bike Path also runs on the outskirts of Culver, leading bicyclists to Marina Del Rey and the beach bike path that runs south to Hermosa Beach and north to Santa Monica and Will Rogers Beach. The city’s proximity to other Westside neighborhoods makes on-demand transit like Lyft or Uber reasonable options for an evening out, and Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus and Culver City Bus serve the city and surrounding areas.

Downtown Culver isn’t lacking things to do either: gastropubs, restaurants, a movie theater and historic landmarks are all within at most a 10 to 15 minute walk from downtown, along with adjacent residential neighborhoods. Grocery stores and smaller markets are scattered around the the central district and are fairly accessible by walking and biking, depending on your exact location.

The factor hindering Culver City from becoming a true car-free city is its lack of north-south bus routes connecting it to nearby work and entertainment centers like Beverly Hills, Century City and West Hollywood. There are a few options, but they’re not as convenient as they should be.

Culver2

Transit Score: N/A*

Walk Score: 84, Very Walkable

Bike Score: N/A*

* scores unavailable.

4. Pasadena

Old Town Pasadena

Photo: Old Town Pasadena

The city of Pasadena is located about 11 miles northeast of downtown LA. For its residents it provides a functional mix of both urban and suburban. The city has six Gold Line stations, three located in the median of Interstate 210 and three south and near Old Pasadena and it’s an 18-minute to 29-minute ride to Union Station from those stations.

Although the city has been very slow to develop a decent bike plan — much less implement it — there are plentiful cycling opportunities in the area, including many of them on quiet residential streets. With better bike connections to Gold Line stations, Pasadena may have been even higher on our list. To the city’s credit, it has given away bike vouchers.

If you’re an apartment dweller, there are plenty of options here as well — the city has been on an apartment and condo building boom since the Gold Line opened.

The Gold Line, of course, serves the region’s transit hub at Union Station and also continues to East Los Angeles. The Gold Line is also being extended 11.5 miles east to Azusa (the Gold Line Foothill Extension project, forecast to open in 2016) and a separate project will allow Gold Line trains to run through downtown L.A. (the Regional Connector project, forecast to open in 2020). Pasadena is also served by several Metro bus lines, Foothill Transit and the Pasadena ARTS bus, which focuses on connecting neighborhoods to the Gold Line and commercial areas. The Metro Local Line 180/181 and Metro Rapid Line 780 buses run west from Pasadena to Eagle Rock, Glendale, Los Feliz and Hollywood

By far the city’s most car-free friendly business and entertainment district is Old Town Pasadena (Del Mar and Memorial Park Gold Line stations), with a secondary nod to the Lake Avenue business district; there is also the Hastings Ranch area in eastern Pasadena, which is more of a traditional suburban environment and has its share of big box stores. With an array of stores, coffee shops and restaurants with outdoor seating, pubs, movie theaters, parks and the occasional parade or event, you’ll pretty much be set for an afternoon or an evening out. When it comes to filling your refrigerators and cupboards, Pasadena has a handful of major grocery stores and at least three are within a block or two of a Gold Line station, including the giant two-story Whole Foods on Arroyo Parkway.

Pasadena2

Transit Score: N/A*

Walk Score: 68, but most of the city is easily walkable

Bike Score: 71, Very Bikeable

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Destination Discount: save on tickets to The Sunshine Boys at Ahmanson Theatre

Sun_600x300_metro

Danny DeVito and Judd Hirsch bring on the laughs in the new production of Neil Simon’s classic play The Sunshine Boys, showing at Ahmanson Theatre September 24 to November 3. Tickets start at just $27!

Save on tickets (and parking) by going Metro. Metro riders will receive a 10% discount by visiting CenterTheatreGroup.org/Metro when purchasing tickets, and it’s the only way to save when buying individual tickets. The exclusive offer is part of Metro’s Destination Discounts program. Go Metro to participating locations and events and you’ll save on admission, get discounts on meals, and receive free gifts.

To get to Ahmanson Theatre, take the Red/Purple Line to Civic Center Station or Metro Bus 10 to Temple/Grand.

Metrolink to make special stop at the L.A. County Fair

Photo by Natt Muangsiri, via Flickr creative commons

Here's the news release from Metrolink:

LOS ANGELES – Metrolink will offer safe, affordable service directly to the L.A. County Fair beginning this weekend and continuing on Saturdays and Sundays throughout the month of September. Metrolink's San Bernardino Line trains will add a special stop at the Pomona Fairplex, while a free shuttle will transport passengers to the main entrance.

Metrolink riders with a monthly pass can ride all Metrolink trains at no additional cost on the weekends. Others can take advantage of the $10 Weekend Day Pass, which allows them to ride Metrolink trains either Saturday or Sunday for one low fare. Riders can transfer to and from other Metrolink lines, along with Metro rail and most buses with the $10 Weekend Day Pass.

This year the L.A. County Fair is offering all Metrolink riders a special $10 admission ticket on weekends. Regular weekend fair admission tickets for adults, ages 13 and over, is $19, children ages 6-12 is $12, while seniors, 60 and over is $15. Vehicle parking on weekends is an additional $15 or $30 for valet.

Fair goers are encouraged to “UNLEASH YOUR INNER FAIR!” by indulging in food galore and shopping, while enjoying the many entertainment acts and other attractions. The L.A. County Fair will also feature animal competitions, art exhibits, carnival games, the big Ferris wheel and much more.

Metrolink representatives will be staffing the Fairplex station during train service operations to assist passengers.

For details on Metrolink's L.A. County Fair schedule and promotion, please visit metrolinktrains.com/lacofair.

ABOUT METROLINK (www.metrolinktrains.com)

Metrolink is Southern California's regional commuter rail service in its 20th year of operation. The Southern California Regional Rail Authority (SCRRA), a joint powers authority made up of an 11-member board representing the transportation commissions of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties, governs the service. Metrolink operates over seven routes through a six-county, 512 route-mile network. Metrolink is the third largest commuter rail agency in the United States based on directional route miles and the seventh largest based on annual ridership.

 


The Day Pass Diary: Riding the Metro Purple Line

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Even though the Metro Purple Line is the shortest rail line in Los Angeles County, there’s an endless amount of places to go and sights to see at every stop. With the help of Metro, you can experience the Purple Line all day for only $5 with a $5 Day Pass.

Continue reading for some suggestions for your trip via the Purple Line:

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Then & Now: in L.A. getting rid of streetcars easier than getting rid of billboards

008 - Old - LATL 5 Line Car 1423 Northbound At Prw. & Crenshaw Bl. 19550507 (2)

Looking west from Crenshaw Boulevard, just south of 67th Street. Photo by Alan Weeks, via the Metro Transportation and Library’s Flickr stream. Click above to visit.

008 - New - Metro ROW now

Photo by Metro.

005 - Old - LATL 5 Line Car 1402 Southbound On Crenshaw Bl. At 60th St. 19541215 (2)

Looking north at Crenshaw Boulevard from 60th Street. Photo by Alan Weeks, via the Metro Transportation Library & Archive’s Flickr stream. Click above to visit.

Photo by Metro.

Photo by Metro.

Two observations from this set of past and present photos along Crenshaw Boulevard:

1. It’s a shame that there are so few food outlets remaining that serve both donuts and chili dogs.

2. Those set of three ugly nearly street level billboards in the bottom set of photos: They were there when Alan Weeks took captured his image on Dec. 15, 1954, and they were there last year when Metro staff took the bottom photo. Billboards in L.A.: once there, always there, eh?

Many thanks to Alan Weeks for capturing the two images from the 1950s and Metro’s Crenshaw/LAX Line construction staff for taking the modern photos.

About Alan: He worked for many years as a transit scheduler first with the RTD and later the MTA, now known as Metro. He is retired and very proud of his many years of public service — as he should be. Many of his photos of L.A.’s transit scene can seen on the Metro Transportation Library & Archive’s Flickr page, which as of this morning had 8,915 images and is still growing.

If you’ve enjoyed our Then & Now posts, then you are morally obligated to check out the Metro Library’s Historypin page, a sophistacted mapping tool that allows you to overlay historic photos with current street views. It is, trust me, epically cool. Here’s a Source post from last week explaining Historypin; check out the photo from Crenshaw and 60th on Historypin. Very cool.

Go Metro to the 5th annual Taste of East LA

Taste-of-east-LA-2013

The 5th annual Taste of East L.A. will be serving up tasty eats on Saturday, September 7. The event starts at 11 a.m. and ends at 8 p.m. and cost for the event is $20 for 20 Taste Coupons.

Located at East L.A. Civic Center Station off of the Metro Gold Line, this community event transforms the area into a lively street festival complete with local entertainment and celebrities, children’s activities and vendors.

Food lovers will be able to satisfy their taste buds by sampling food and beverages from an assortment of over 20 restaurants. Whether it be a poblano mole from Moles La Tia, rotisserie chicken from Juan’s Chicken or Que Delicious’ fruit smoothie, there is something for everyone to enjoy.

The Taste showcases the many great restaurants that make East LA a truly desirable destination for a wonderful dining experience.

To plan the route that’s best for you, use the Metro Trip Planner.

Where there is life …

Two kinds of breakfast burritos and sprouted hummus.

Two kinds of breakfast burritos and sprouted hummus.

Raw food alert! Even if you’re eating for flavor rather than for health, LifeFood Organic restaurant in Hollywood is certainly worth a stop. It’s vegan in a good way — the way those of us who don’t think we could ever give up fish and cheese — find inspiring. And the raw tortilla wraps are delicious. Even if burgers are your best friend, you will find the food refreshing, if not fascinating.

At first glance it may seem a little on the pricey side ($12 for a breakfast burrito) but consider that everything is made by hand, from scratch and from fresh ingredients. Would you make a tortilla by hand from apples, coconut, zucchini and nuts for that price?

LifeFood Organic is at 507 Cahuenga Blvd. — it’s a short and healthy walk from the Hollywood/Vine Red Line Station.