Ride and Rail Diary
Posted on May 10, 2015 by Lou
Traffic in L.A.’s flower district was unbearable but I didn’t have any trouble navigating around Wall, 8th or Santee. It took a few minutes to realize I was witnessing a Mother’s Day Weekend buying frenzy and just happened to be bicycling through. There was nobody to pick up flowers for anyway. My mother’s been gone for more than 40 years and my kids’ mom just a little more than three.
So I turned up Crocker to get a firsthand look at the tents, overturned shopping carts and thousands living on the streets of America’s most densely populated skid row.
Don’t get the impression though that I was seeking out human suffering or my own.
I just got off the Gold Line at Alameda and 2nd and was crisscrossing my way southwest for Expo back to Culver City. In fact, an hour before, I had been enjoying a chicken salad sandwich on raisin bread at Buster’s Coffee on Mission in South Pasadena across the street from the light rail station. Sit outside next to the tracks – on the other side of the fence – and watch the trains pulling in and listen to the sounds of the railroad crossing and you’ll think you’re in Connecticut.
Saturday is a good day for ride and rail because the cars are less crowded but all those empty seats make you wonder whether Southern California’s big transit build-out will attract enough passengers to transform the region. Residential and business development “clusters” around train stations dress up neighborhoods and create charming areas to shop and hang out. The start of the new housing / workplace alignment transportation planners are talking about. But will tens or hundreds of thousands of residents change their travel habits?
It’s not without irony that the last leg of my trip – the three mile bike ride from Expo’s current termination point on Washington Blvd, just west of National (next year Expo stretches all the way to the beach!) – took me through this year’s Culver City Car Show, featuring more than 400 vintage autos and thousands of fans. Thunderbirds, Corvettes, Mustangs, Woodies and freshly painted 50-year-old Ford pickups sparkling like gems on display.
Yep, we love our cars here in Southern California. Could it be that someday we’ll love our trains, too?