The City of Angeles is infamous for nightmarish traffic. And most people would tell you that is because L.A. has a massive population and an infrastructure that requires every citizen to travel by freeway. In fact, many people believe it is utterly impossible to live in Los Angeles without a car. But the truth is, with a continuously developing transit system, quick access to rental bikes, and new ride share apps, going carless in this city has never been easier.
Whether you’re moving to L.A. or just deciding whether you can finally give up your wheels, you have plenty of options for getting around. Here’s a quick guide to living a full life without spending your entire paycheck on gas.
The Benefits of Living in Los Angeles Without a Car
First things first: Why would anyone want to be without a car in L.A. to begin with?
Sometimes living without a car isn’t a choice. In addition to monthly car and insurance payments, auto owners also deal with insane gas prices and costly parking. But whether you or not you choose to go carless, this lifestyle comes with several benefits.
For one thing, you avoid the miserable traffic congestion L.A. is known for. When you travel on public transit, traffic is not your problem. Plus, you can get a lot of reading done or even get to know a stranger during your commute. You also avoid the nightmare of parking in Los Angeles. Expensive fees aside, even just finding a parking spot can be a headache. This severely limits your options for exploration. If you see an interesting new shop while traveling by foot or by rental bike, it’s easy to stop and pop in. If you’re in your car, however, you’re constantly weighing the pros and cons of pursuing a new adventure. Will it be hard to park? Will it be expensive? Do you have enough time to find a spot, walk from the spot to the shop, walk back, and get wherever it is you originally meant to go? Alternative travel methods offer so much more freedom and fewer calculations.
Finally, you get to feel good about choosing public transit, rental bikes, or your own two wheels. As a city that has been famously battling car emissions for decades, Los Angeles is desperate for fewer drivers. Your carelessness doesn’t just mean less pollution. It also sends a message to the folks in charge that there is a demand for more transit options and bike-friendly infrastructure.
So now you know why there’s value in living in Los Angeles without a car. Let’s discuss how you can realistically make it happen.
Selecting Your Neighborhood in Los Angeles
If you want to live in L.A. without a car, you first need to research neighborhoods. Start by looking at the area where you plan to work. Then get to know the local transit system.
Where is the nearest bus stop or Metro station? Are there bike lanes in that neighborhood? Or narrow streets with lots of blind corners? When you gather all this information, you get a better sense of what commuting to work will look like. You may decide you want to try to find a home within several blocks of your place of business. Or you might be able to follow bus and rail routes to find a community within easy travel distance.
Other factors to consider when looking at neighborhoods include:
- How easy is it to get to the necessities, like grocery stores?
- What are your hobbies? Is recreation an easy train or bike ride away?
- What about your social life? Try to avoid an area that might keep you isolated from your friends or a community you want to get to know.
The great thing about Los Angeles is that many neighborhoods are villages unto themselves. You can get just about anything you need within a reasonable radius. Most neighborhoods do have a feature that makes getting around fairly easy, whether it’s bike lanes or the Metro. And with a bike share service like Spinlister, you can find bike rentals easily no matter where you are.
The Public Transit System in Los Angeles
L.A.’s public transit system gets a bad rap. To be fair, Los Angeles is wide and sprawling. Creating a rail system as comprehensive as New York City’s is going to take some time. But for now, you still have a ton of options if you’re hoping to live in Los Angeles without a car.
The Metro bus system is just as wide reaching. It’s also fairly diversified, with different options for local travel along surface streets or longer freeway commutes across the county.
However you choose to use public transit in Los Angeles, Metro tries to make it easy to find your route. You can try the Metro trip planner or download the Go Metro mobile app to find your way when you’re out and about.
The Metro rail system includes six different lines spreading out to the far corner of L.A. County. Downtown L.A., Hollywood, Long Beach, Pasadena, Culver City, Santa Monica, the San Fernando Valley . . . they’re all connected by the Metro.
Finding Rental Bikes in Los Angeles
This article promises to teach you how to live and thrive in L.A. without a car. As far as we’re concerned, the thriving part is where the bikes come in. Los Angeles is such a fun city to explore on two wheels. Whether you’re riding to work downtown or taking a leisurely Sunday ride to the beach, a bike is essential for getting the most out of the SoCal life.
If you don’t have a bike, don’t worry. It’s super easy to rent a bike in Los Angeles. This city has a fairly large population of cycling enthusiasts. This means there are also plenty of bike shops. There are also a lot of individual cyclists who are happy to rent a bike to other riders. If you need a rental bike, start by checking out the listings on Spinlister. There are listers all over the city, which means you have great options no matter where you go. And if you already own a bike, listing your ride on a platform like Spinlister is a great way to make some extra cash and promote car-free living.
Beyond bike rentals and online bike share services, there are also several areas of the city where you can easily pick up a Metro bike for a quick ride. (Here are some insights to city bike share programs that will help you choose whether to share or rent.)
Beyond Transit and Rental Bikes in Los Angeles
There are a lot of places you can go with the public transit system and availability of rental bikes in Los Angeles. That said, there may be times when the place you need to get to is just a little too remote. Or maybe you’ve injured yourself and you can’t pedal this week. In those cases, you can always call a ride share service or carpool with friends and split the cost of gas. The thought of asking for a lift may feel uncomfortable, but the truth is that carpooling is an important step towards combating climate change. Just offer to chip in for fuel and turn the shared trip into another opportunity to connect.
L.A. is an incredible place to work and live. From outdoor recreation to local art to exciting nightlife, there is always something new to do. And believe it or not, ditching your car often enhances the experience of exploring L.A. Just do your homework, devise your strategy, and let it be frustrating and awkward for the first couple weeks. We promise you’ll find your routine in no time.