You never get to feel LA, I think, unless you walk or ride it. One of the joys of living in LA without a car is that chance to feel Los Angeles in all its glory every day. As I walk or bike across town, I see people all around me – selling tamales, walking to school, scurrying for the next bus on Wilshire Blvd.
I’m huddled at the corner of Westwood and Wilshire Blvd, staring across at the new installation at the Hammer Museum with dozens of other people waiting for the 720 during rush hour. People crane their necks anxiously, peering towards the 405 freeway to try to gauge if the next bus is coming. Inevitably, the bus will come – in fact, oftentimes three or more buses come zooming towards us at one time! At that point, it’s a strategic decision – should you rush to the first bus where a wheelchair is getting off? Or the second one, that everyone is crowding now? Or the third one, that looks like it’s about to pull off the curb? I squeeze in, past the masses of people to swipe my TAP card. Then the adventure starts.
The Rapid 720, I swear, would make the world’s cheapest and greatest amusement park if used correctly. We don’t need Magic Mountain! Just take your kid to the back of the 720, where you will feel every single pothole from Santa Monica to Downtown LA. They’ll be bouncing like crazy, and on the way you can show them Beverly Hills, the La Brea Tar Pits, and Koreatown! In one corner, there’s someone with huge headphones on, bobbing his body to some invisible rhythms. A woman gets on and begins to exclaim in rapid Spanish as she sees a friend on the bus. Two Korean grandmas slowly get on at Western, and people rush to support them as the bus jerks forward from the stop.
This is LA, I tell my friends, in all its visceral glory: people yelling on the streets, impatient cars stuck in traffic, parents pushing their children along to the grocery store. You never get to see that in a car. Within that box of metal, you’re shut off from humanity, often to the point where you reduce people to objects that need to be gotten around. To really live LA, you have to travel LA – on public transit, by bike or by foot!