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Car-Free Los Angeles and Southern California Paperback – November 15, 2011


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Wilderness Press (November 15, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0899976565
  • ISBN-13: 978-0899976563
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #688,379 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Nathan Landau is a transportation planner and city planner who works for a transit agency in Oakland, California. He has also worked for the cities of New York and Berkeley, California. As an adult,he has lived car-free or car-light in California for 30 years. He grew up in what seemed at the time to be the only car-free family in America. As a child, Landau developed the habit of collecting transit and other maps and timetables, a habit which his wife has been unable to break him of. In the Los Angeles/Southern California area, he has taken more than 80 bus and train lines, operated by 11 different transit agencies. He lives in Berkeley with his wife, daughter, and two cats who hate to travel by any mode other than walking.

Customer Reviews

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By David Kennedy on March 7, 2012
Format: Paperback
Los Angeles is one of the world's 'mythical' cities. Given the presence of Hollywood, there is an odd familiarity to the place (sort of like a dream) even if you've never visited. One of the city's core myths is that you must have a car. Years ago, absolutely, this was a fair statement. Given its sprawling nature, complex network of freeways and inadequate public transit, having a car was a sensible idea. However, over the past decades, the city and region have made great strides in public transit options. There is a growing rail system (a mix of subway and light rail), which provides a solid backbone to the public transit system. Bus service has improved markedly with the Rapid buses.

For many visitors, particularly for those from abroad, renting a car was not an option for many reasons. Given the improvements to the public transit system, it is a reasonable idea to go car-free in Los Angeles. The challenge for the visitor is understanding your options and choosing wisely.

Enter "Car-Free Los Angeles". It is an excellent guide to all the public transit options in Los Angeles and the greater Southern California region. The author has a long career as a transit planner at various agencies from across the country. Over the years, Los Angeles came to occupy a special place in his heart. Part of his enjoyment of the city was figuring out how to navigate it all without a car.

Like most travel guides, the book is structured by neighborhood, particularly those that appeal to the visitor (e.g. Hollywood and Santa Monica) and those that are well-served by public transit (e.g. downtown and West Hollywood). The book is well organized. The writing is crisp and clear-headed with ample detail. His style is low-key. So there are no extended essays waxing poetic about the city.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Maeri VINE VOICE on June 13, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book inspired me to turn in my rental car and use buses and the Metro on a recent trip to LA. Landau is a good writer with an encyclopedic knowledge of the LA public transportation system. He breaks down the book by neighborhoods, so it's easy to look up where you are going. The maps are excellent and can be downloaded separately onto a smartphone or tablet for easy reference. It's a good idea to supplement this book with a smartphone and check out some of the apps available that deal with LA's bus and Metro system. I particularly liked an app called Where's my LA Metro Bus?, which uses GPS to locate your bus and to predict when the next bus will come. It's not perfect, but it did a decent job most of the time. Google maps is good for locating the bus stops themselves and and also offers supplemental advice about which bus or train to take. During weekdays in particular, I think it is actually easier to get around Downtown LA, Hollywood and West Hollywood by bus or metro than by car. Other areas of the city are a little trickier but it can be done and it's so cheap ($1.50) that it's well worth it. I stayed in Hollywood, and hopped on and off a number of buses and trains, but my trips on the Gold Line to Pasadena and the 2 bus to the Pacific Coast Highway were particularly good. The number 2 bus is my favorite, a fantastic ride through incredibly contrasting neighborhoods that ends at the Pacific Palisades. The bus driver told me she loves driving the route because it's so interesting. From there, I got a bus down to Santa Monica. I also liked the 217 and 780, the Fairfax Avenue buses that stop at two of my favorite places, the Farmer's Market and LACMA. Taking public transportation in LA means experiencing the city in a much more intimate and complex way. The variety of people is fascinating and I found the system easy to use and safe.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By cb on January 3, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book was perfect for helping to plan my upcoming trip to California. I couldn't seem to find anything else that would be helpful in giving a lay of the land for travelers without a car and this was great. It also included lots of helpful and affordable hotel, eating, and activity suggestions.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Roger Mason on July 24, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This the best possible guide book for the car-free traveler to the Los Angeles area. I have purchased the book in advance of our holiday there and it has the perfect balance between giving practical information for using public transport and providing details regarding the many sights.

The text is not heavy on detail regarding attractions but gives enough information and is very enthusiastic about the many well known and not so well known sights and activities in the LA and San Diego area and how they can be accessed by bus, metro or walking. The book underlines just how much LA has improved it's public transport network and there are continued improvements in the pipeline such as the metro extension to Santa Monica which is due to be completed next year. The author instills a sense of deep knowledge of the area as he has traveled all the routes described in the book himself and his enthusiasm for public transport is infectious.

There is a definite anti-car bias about the book but if your intention is to travel to LA and use the public transport system to see the vast area and to cover the distances between the areas without getting caught in endless traffic jams then this is the book for you!
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