5 Reasons to not drive in Los Angeles

Jan 10, 2010 by Lisa Newton

Many people have reduced their driving to a minimum. There are some who intentionally don’t drive at all or are “car-light,” meaning they only use their car occasionally.

Does this sound appealing?  For me, this month I will be on a “car light” diet and I’m really looking forward to it.


The following are the top 5 reasons to not drive in Los Angeles.

1. Traffic: In case you’ve lived under a rock for the last 5 decades, I’m sure you’ve heard that Los Angeles is the most traffic congested city in the world. When planning a trip route by automobile, technology greatly helps.

To find out which streets, freeways, and routes may be “congested,” log onto your computer, go to Google maps, plug in your starting and ending points, and then hit traffic. You’ll then see the traffic flow and patterns:

Free flowing streets and freeways are green; and the opposite is shown as red. Whenever I do this, I’m always surprised at how many of our highways and byways are red, or worse–red with black stripes.

In Los Angeles County, the average driver spends 72 hours annually stuck in traffic–the worst in the country. It appears that most of this congestion occurs during the weekends, and not during the workweek. It sucks being stuck on the 405 on a Saturday afternoon. Who wants to enjoy their weekend parked on the freeway?

2. Cost: Driving is expensive. Car purchases and leases are big-ticket items. Yet again, gas prices are currently rising like clockwork. Annual maintenance for your car is enormously costly, not to mention parking fees. Based on AAA’s estimates, it costs $.55 per mile to own and operate a car. A 20 miles drive will cost you $11.00. Over the course of a month, that’s $333.00. That’s for starters; driving costs add up fast.

Time Management

3. Time management: Many people think that taking alternative and/or public transportation takes too long. It’s easy to just jump in your car and go. I’ll admit, any form of alternative transportation, from riding a bike–to taking the Metro—to van-pooling, takes a bit of extra time. But, in the long run, it’s time well spent:

For example, driver “1,” after a long day at work, leaves work from downtown LA to go home in the Valley. Driver “1” takes the 101 north, better known as the Hollywood Freeway, and immediately hits traffic, which is crawling all the way past Hollywood. Just when you think you might have a speedy ride home because traffic is now “flowing,” you again hit traffic at the start of the Ventura Freeway, and again, come to a total stop with no end in sight. All driver “1” can do is wait until the traffic clears. His or her commute time doesn’t only include the 60 minutes+; but also includes the extra cost of stress, idling, pollution, and unnecessary gas expended. The saying that some things are worth more than money, definitely applies to drivers that are stuck in traffic.


As a comparison, non-driver “#1,” takes the recommended Google route pictured above, walks to the Metro stop and reads until train comes. Now, comfy and relaxed, non-driver “#1″ rides the Metro Red Line to the transfer point, and then sits down to wait for the bus. After only a few short minutes of comfortable waiting, the bus comes “and whisks him or her away.”

The great thing about public transportation is that you can do other things while traveling–you can work on your trusty Netbook, continue reading your book, or spend some time working on that presentation for your upcoming meeting.

This results in 70 minutes of work, relaxation, fresh air, and a total cost of $2.50.

Which option sounds better to you?


4. Exercise: OMG, it’s the dreaded “E” word. Most people’s New Year’s resolutions are to get more exercise, eat better, or lose weight. Driving won’t help with any one of these components, so why not use better time management and combine exercise with transportation?

Did you know that according to the 2001 National Household Transportation Survey, 50% of all trips in metropolitan areas are three miles or less, and 28% of all metropolitan trips are one mile or less –perfect distances for walking or biking. To be sure, walking or biking might take a little longer, but you’re also getting fresh air, exercise, and fun at the same time.


5. Environment: Walking and biking are both eco-friendly. Mass transit is an ecologically friendlier way of transportation than using automobiles, which means less pollution and carbon footprint emissions, less smog, more breathable air, and less damage to the environment. And you still get to where you’re going.

So the next time you’re planning a trip, regardless of whether it’s 1, 20, or even 200 miles, consider your alternatives. Don’t just jump into your “car and go.” Think first.

Nowadays planning is the operative and smart alternative for transportation. It might take extra time to use alternative transportation, but in the end, it’s time extremely well spent, especially here in the car capital of the world.

Travelin’ Local’s motto is to be unique and different while gettin’ around town.

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4 Responses to “5 Reasons to not drive in Los Angeles”

  1. Ebie says:

    Hi Liz, I am a great supporter of public transportation, been using the system for more than 15 years since working in Downtown. In so doing, I know how to take the surface streets in case of bumper to bumper traffic.

    P.S. The waterlilies were taken at the Japanese Garden in Van Nuys across from Lake Balboa.
    Ebie´s last blog ..My World of Waterlilies My ComLuv Profile


    LisaNewton Reply:

    @Ebie, LA’s public transit gets a lot of flack and not much credit. Considering the vastness of LA, Metro is pretty good.

    Thanks for the info on the waterlilies. I’ll have to check them out.


  2. Scott Bravard says:

    Great post, I love that you are challenging the “conventional wisdom” that LA is a drivers-only city.


    LisaNewton Reply:

    @Scott Bravard, It’s amazing the reaction I get when I’m telling someone I’m taking the bus. Shock and amazement often follow.


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