Since I boomeranged home to the Valley post-graduation, my commute to the UCLA campus has increased dramatically. By living in Weyburn, I was only 0.8 miles away. But my parents’ house is just over 12 miles from UCLA, and my commute door-to-door now ranges between 75 to 90 minutes. 

I know that there are a lot of UCLA employees who face lengthy commutes here. Earlier today, I heard about someone who drives to her vanpool from Bakersfield – and that sounds just nuts to me. But lets’ not fool ourselves: 90 minutes is a long time.

How did it get to this?

I ruled out driving alone, lest I be branded with a sticker that read SOV.  Also, I ruled out carpooling: Daddy T starts work at the Beverly Wilshire at 7AM; my mother reports to her office by LAX at 10AM. And I like being able to read on the bus. 

So for the past three weeks, I have been using my Xootr Scooter to travel the first (and last) mile between my house and Sherman Way and Van Nuys Boulevard, which is where I catch Metro Bus 761 to/from Westwood. 

I report to work at 9, so most days, I am out the door by 7:30AM. Xooting out of my neighborhood is always so pleasant. The trees provide shade, I say hello to my neighbors, and the pavement is smooth thanks to the persistence of our neighborhood association. 

But most of my Xooting trip occurs on the sidewalks along the north and south side of Sherman Way, which are in terrible, terrible shape. There are comparatively fewer street trees. The sidewalks are cracked. And because of the intense racial and income segregation by land use in my part of the Valley, the apartment houses that line Sherman Way are mostly delerict and depressing. I’m reminded every day of the vast disparities in housing quality and options in a way that motorists don’t confront when they are cocooned in their cars. 

In the morning, I also run into many parents and grandparents walking their children to school, which is a bit of wonderful because walking is good and our area is devoid of public open space for kids in apartments to run and play. And I admit, I feel safer knowing that there are parents walking their kids to school, even if this means I must slow down on my scooter.

Before signing off, I must tell you about the scene at the bus stop. There are people who come everyday not to catch the bus but, rather, to recruit people to join their religion. This intrigues me. To their credit, they are able to engage with different people everyday and I always see people accept their literature. 

Anyway, I look forward to talking lots more about the commute to work, but it’s time for me to go catch the 761 to go home myself. 

Until next time,