Living Car Free in LA #1: Community

California, Giving Back to our Communities, Living Car-Free
Jessie Holzer

by Jessie Holzer, Planner, Alta Planning + Design

I hear all the time about new studies finding bicycling and walking to be great economic development tools, as people walking and biking are more likely to stop into stores since it is more convenient to pull over frequently than it is for people driving. What I don’t hear as often is how this can also lead to increased social interactions and a sense of community.

Jessie Holzer, living car free in LA everyday

Jessie Holzer, living car free in LA everyday.

I started thinking about this benefit of biking and walking when I was on my way home from the grocery store the other day. I just moved to a new neighborhood and was testing out my new bike route options. I chose a small residential street based on how “cute” I thought the street was – modest craftsman homes with large trees and colorful landscaping. I wasn’t riding very fast so that I could admire the unique details in each home and take in my new surroundings.

When it was almost time to turn onto my street I noticed several boxes of fruit sitting on the sidewalk in front of someone’s home. I was curious so I slowed even more and saw a sign that read “Free, take some!” Well, don’t mind if I do! I was preparing to load several grapefruits into one of the bags provided when a couple in their mid-30s came out from the home to thank me for taking the fruit. They had just trimmed their trees and had too much for their family to consume. I stayed for a couple minutes to chat with them, happy that I had met some of my new neighbors in such a fun way and in a way that probably wouldn’t have happened had I been quickly driving by.

Biking allows me to travel at a different scale than driving, one that puts me more in touch with my environment and my community. I feel more connected to the neighborhoods I’m traveling in and to the people that live in and visit them. I expect that this is just one example of many more similar experiences to come. I am excited about exploring other streets in my new neighborhood and finding what types of things I’ll see and interactions I’ll have.

Read the rest of the “Living Car-Free in LA” series:
#2 Riding in Style
#3 Making the Choice
#4 A Little Perspective
#5 Impacting Relationships
#6 Social events


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