A common occurrence in America’s second largest city for the past sixty years: parking lots that are supposed to be freeways, this one the 405 in West Los Angeles. Photo courtesy of la.curbed.com
THE VARIOUS REASONS I NEVER HAD AN AUTOMOBILE IN A CITY WHERE THE AUTOMOBILE IS KING
I know that in the City of Angels, I’m something akin to a freak of nature, a space alien who’s on the wrong planet.
Or seen by at least a few people as a “loser”, or someone who is somewhat less of an adult, because of this:
I have lived in the greater Los Angeles area for over forty years, and I’ve never owned a car – nor do I ever plan to own one.
Let me go right into the reasons why…
1. TRAFFIC, AS IN L.A. HAVING THE WORST IN THE U.S.
Of the over ten million people who reside in Los Angeles County – and in neighboring Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, and Ventura counties – no one enjoys the gridlock traffic jams that have been part of the Southern California landscape and culture since the 1950s, when the automobile became the virtual symbol of L.A.
For me personally, it’s more than merely being annoyed while stuck in parking lots that are supposed to be streets.
A personal part of this Asperger’s Syndrome that I have is that my anxieties grow to a pronounced level, a 12 on a scale of one to ten, whenever I feel like I’m in a hurry to get someplace (which is much of the time) and the bus I’m riding in – my main form of transportation – is either stuck somewhere in traffic or stops because the driver is ahead of the bus route’s time schedule.
Yes, I know that plenty of aspies drive cars just like neurotypicals, but If I were driving a car, those anxieties could lead to me doing something that’s not good, like get into an accident because I’m trying to go somewhere too fast, or get into a road rage situation.
For me, it’s just easier and simpler to let the bus, Metro Rail, or taxi driver do the driving; it would save me and everyone else some potentially bad disasters and incidents.
As for Uber and Lyft, that’s an option that I’ll probably be using in the near future.
2. DWB – DRIVING WHILE BLACK
I’ve heard too many stories in the news about how African-Americans like me have been stopped, searched, handcuffed, arrested, and killed while driving by white police for no other reason besides the color of their skin.
Getting racially profiled like that has happened to me more than once while riding my bicycle in Santa Monica when I lived there in the early 1990s; while I wasn’t handcuffed, I would be stopped by motorcycle cops and given tickets for reasons I don’t know to this day.
Experiencing what those fellow blacks have experienced is something I want absolutely no part of, which is why for me, driving my own car is not worth that risk.
A major part of driving a car as a black man that I want NO part of. Photo courtesy of justicenotjails.org
I don’t want get into any details about my income as I feel that’s no one’s business, but suffice it to say that it’s not at the level where I can afford to buy and (particularly) maintain a decent car.
And as for financing and monthly payments, that’s likewise something that would induce a level of stress in me that I do not need at this point in my life, as I want to live more simply.
Worrying about money for gas, and fixing my car if it broke down and needed new parts like an engine or transmission is something that I don’t want to do.
4. BETTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT
I definitely don’t need to contribute to the dirtying of the air (despite changes to cars that have offset that) that the exhaust from cars brings.
One can say that by not driving, I’m doing my part to improve the environment and slow down the global warming that’s getting to be more and more of an issue.
THE BOTTOM LINE…
It’s just simpler for me to take public transportation, an area where Los Angeles has improved as there are things like the various Metro Rail lines and a planned “Subway To The Sea” going from downtown to Santa Monica that didn’t exist twenty years before.
Besides, when I had my bicycle I recall crashing and wrecking it at least three times in a twelve-month span, scraping myself fairly badly on one occurrence.
I can only imagine the ramifications of going through the same thing while driving a car.
I know that having never had one has led at least some folks to see me as a loser, or something less of an adult.
If you are one of those who are of that opinion because I don’t drive and have never had my own mode of transportation other than a bicycle, go ahead and think such.
I have to do what’s right for me, no matter what.
A part of Los Angeles culture that I likewise want no part of. Photo courtesy of abc7.com