Sunday, January 10, 2016

Happy 2016

I've been busy so this post was belated. My apologies if the language seems a little out of date. 

I celebrated the arrival of this year with 25 minutes of dreadful isolation on the roof of my apartment. 

Cascades of fireworks dazzled on the horizon, but none of my neighbors joined me on the rooftop to watch.

On the streets below, furthermore, one could hear the faintest echo (punctuated only on occasion by a rare ecstatic shout). 

Unlike on most nights at this time, barely one or two cars whizzed by on the street (during my duration on the roof).

And yet, an absence of cars did not entail the crowding of sidewalks, even on a night when everyone is relaxing or celebrating the arrival of the New Year.

Moments like these convey most directly the confinement of Los Angeles' population to cars. Two observations come to mind.

1. The block I live on is medium density, a mix of midrise (10-story) and lowrise apartment buildings and duplexes/triplexes. However, scanning (from my rooftop view) due north, a pitch black (mile long) expanse of spacious single-family housing separated my nook from the retail and entertainment district along Sunset Blvd. Looking to the west, a couple more blocks of apartments gave way to yet a vaster expanse of blackness (single-family homes), stretching to the faint lights of Westwood. Finally, to the east, I caught another block of apartments, the corner Ralphs, and then the design and office buildings along Robertson, a short distance away. Interspersed with all this dense development, I caught glimpses of still more patches of single-family homes! A thicker line separated my block from the towers in Wilshire. The problem with walking in Los Angeles is that despite the proliferation of density at a regional level (particularly in the central basin area), much of that density occurs in a patchwork matter, intermittant and dispersed across a wide area (and variety of uses). A person still needs a personal vehicle to access the full spectrum of places he or she needs to go.

2. Our city (and region) incentivizes driving even for short trips where walking and biking could do the job. From free parking, to wide roads (and crappy sidewalks) driving has become so convenient that we (think we) "can't" get around without our cars.

Just my observations. Nothing scientific today.

Have a good year!

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