Car-free Living in Los Angeles

Please welcome my guest blogger, Harvey Slater. Harvey is a unique individual who is making a difference in our world. He’s set some noble goals and is here to share them with us.

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Take it away, Harvey.

Thanks, Lynn, for inviting me to connect with your readers today.

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Photo by Lynn Kelley Author, WANA Commons

Hi Everyone! Have you spent countless hours commuting, inching along bumper-to-bumper, staring at the automobile in front of you and thinking about all the other things you could be doing? Do you ever ask yourself, “What exactly am I doing in this car, sitting on this freeway in traffic?”

I had asked myself this question for many years. As a native Southern Californian, I slowly became resentful at being told, “If you live in LA you MUST have a car to survive.”

Despite knowing all the negative impacts of operating a motor vehicle—carbon emissions, noise, dependency on crude oil, legal mandate to participate in the insurance industry, time wasted sitting in traffic—I remained programmed to think that driving a car was the only way to go.

This reliance on cars in Los Angeles is actually quite bizarre. We have probably the most perfect annual weather record globally, and plenty of space, money, and resources to develop a green transportation infrastructure.

Instead, we remain dependent on our vehicles and continue traveling on the widest freeways we can squeeze between two neighborhoods. We drive to our exercise appointments, usually indoors, and once there, we drive in circles to find the parking space nearest the front door.

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Photo credit: Harvey Slater

For me, this started to look and feel like insanity. Then, a couple of years ago, I received a unique opportunity to explore some new business and career ideas.

Everything changed when I broke up with my catering business partner and handed him the keys to my company vehicle.

At first, I thought, “Oh, no, now I have to buy a new a car.” But something inside told me to hold off. I started using the Metro, and for about two weeks, I got by pretty well. After that, I incorporated the bicycle into my commuting by using the bike to connect between Metro rail and busses or just riding my bike the entire distance, if possible.

Then I had the epiphany that there was an opportunity right in front of me to stop the insanity and finally do something to make a difference: I would not replace the car.

Lynn Kelley Author, Monster Moon Mysteries, BBH McChiller

Metrolink Photo by Lynn Kelley Author – WANA Commons

Instead of spending hours stuck in traffic, I’m able to read, write, and complete tasks using my computer and personal devices while city busses and Metro trains whisk me around town. I am in the best physical health I have been in since my 20s, and I am living a real dream that I hold for the future of my city.

I’m pretty sure some people are scratching their heads, thinking I am crazy. I have often wondered whether I would be taken seriously in business, showing up to meetings on a bicycle. I have often wondered if I need to have that “status” of a fancy car in order to be a valid, credible professional and member of society. At the end of the day, staying true to my principles and passions gives me credibility…with myself.

This spring, I am cycling more than 775 miles to raise funds for a greener future. I will take a solo ride from LA to Las Vegas, then participate in Climate Ride in Northern California with more than 100 other cyclists.

I would be thrilled and grateful if you make a donation to support my beneficiary, the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition. The organization works to improve safety and better alternative and active transportation infrastructure for the entire Los Angeles region.

My fundraising goal is $20,000, and I have about $16,000 to go. 100% of your donation will support the cause. You can learn more and make a donation at Climate Ride.

Hope to see you outside!

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Photo credit: Jessie Harrell, WANA Commons

Thank you, Harvey. It’s been a pleasure to have you guest post. What a fascinating life you lead. Your story is inspiring. Good luck with the fundraising. I’d like to see more bicycle paths in our cities, and safety for bicyclists is a huge concern. I applaud you for raising more awareness about this.

The bicycle is a curious vehicle. Its passenger is its engine.
~ John Howard

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Harvey Slater is a chef and creative entrepreneur residing in Los Angeles. Most of Harvey’s career has been devoted to operating his catering business in Los Angeles. He recently launched a healthy eating blog, and is currently studying to earn his designation as a Holistic Nutrition Coach, with the intention of using his food knowledge to help people achieve optimal health, by teaching them how to create an enjoyable, nutritiously balanced, whole food lifestyle.

 

Follow Harvey’s car-free journey on A Guy Without a Car
Check out Harvey’s food blog at The Whole Dish

Please consider donating to this worthy project or helping to spread the word. 

Do you ride a bicycle? Do you have a long commute to work? Have you ever been in a traffic jam? I’d love to hear from you. Share your thoughts with us in a comment. 

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12 Responses to Car-free Living in Los Angeles

  1. Harvey, you rock with the awesome awesomeness! Wow. That is some story, Lynn. I had to read it twice. I couldn’t believe what I had read the first time. *whistles*

    Since I live on a mountain, it would take days to go to the store on the bike. But I ride horses. They’re very green, Harvey.

    Fantastic post. I will ask Gene if we can donate. xoxoxo

  2. yvettecarol says:

    Good job, Harvey! And good luck with all you’re doing 🙂 I haven’t gotten onto a bike since I was about 12. And pretty much don’t intend to. However, rest assured I hardly use my car – it sits in the garage most of the time. 🙂

    • Lynn Kelley says:

      Yvette – Runnings seems to be the way you get around lately, sprinting to catch Sam when he bolts! Amazing you can keep up with him! Thanks for stopping by. (I left a comment last night and it somehow disappeared!)

  3. You’re not adding to the pollution and you’re getting exercise. Double win!

  4. For a Californian that’s was a huge leap. But a great one. Congrats.

  5. Harvey is some kinda awesome! If even a small fraction of the people in the U.S. do what he did, there would be such a wonderful, positive environmental impact. We can’t follow his example here, but we try to only go into town once a day (and almost never on weekends), lumping many tasks and errands together. If the kids and I have to go to town, we try to carpool with hubby.

  6. Good luck to Harvey! Going car-free isn’t realistic in southwest Ohio, unfortunately. Those who can’t drive, end up bumming rides. Public transportation isn’t great (it doesn’t even go to my workplace), and the weather we’re having right now makes cycling a definite No. But a lot of people do in summer, and cities are putting in more bicycle lanes.

    • Lynn Kelley says:

      Jennette – No, not a good time for biking in freezing weather, with ice and snow! That’s great that the cities are putting in more bike lanes, and I hope they improve the public transportation. Thanks for visiting!

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