The Walkable City

Coming from Los Angeles

Nathan Blair



Canada line from the airport to the city center. The 99 bus to Bronte’s apartment. 3 back down main street. 250 to lighthouse point on the ocean. Skytrain to the waterfront where we rented bikes. I’ll spare you the rest…

Sheldon, Bronte, Peytie on the bus in Vancouver

I think the most shocking part wasn’t that the busses were clean or that they ran on time, but that regular people actually use them. Busses were full in the middle of a weekday. We ran into people we knew on the street. We were never harassed or yelled at. That culture just doesn’t exist in LA. Our friends in Vancouver don’t even own cars.

As someone who likes to nerd out about efficiency and optimization, walkability is obviously attractive to me. Unfortunately, I spend a ton of time driving around LA – there’s pretty much no other way here. Transit takes twice as long as driving and isn’t super reliable from my house. Biking in LA requires a ton of courage – drivers will get genuinely pissed at you for taking up a lane.

Last year I read Walkable City by Jeff Speck, which I highly recommend. Here’s some of my favorite arguments he made: