But what about groceries? And heavy things?
DTLA has two major grocery stores and we have these things called legs that allow us to be mobile. But seriously, not having a car has forced me to be more mindful about what I buy and when I buy it, given I can only physically carry so much. If you’re a member of Amazon Prime, they have a free same day delivery service called Amazon Prime Now where you can not only order from a selection of Amazon items but also from a few grocery stores! In fact, here in LA they offer same day delivery from Sprouts, which is my favorite and often describe it as the love child of Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s - free delivery and typically within a 2 hour window. There are also services like Postmates and Instacart that offer similar on-demand delivery services in immediate timeframes. Los Angeles is also fortunate to be home of Joymode, a startup that delivers/pick-ups rental experiences like camping gear, outdoor movie screening kits, BBQ equipment and more! Imagine not having to buy things you’ll only use a few times and you can have them delivered directly to you! Thank you, technology!
What has surprised me about being car-less in LA?
The cost savings has been an incredible benefit. Given how little I was using my car for two of the three years I was leasing it, it felt like an absolute waste of money. The money I’ve saved has actually afforded me the opportunity to recently quit my job at General Assembly and focus on some exciting entrepreneurial endeavors (one of which is Grid110, a non-profit startup I co-founded two years ago that supports the growth of early stage tech startups and entrepreneurs in DTLA). It’s a terrifying feeling, but one that I’m so excited and ready to take on.
I also feel more connected with my city. As drivers, we’re confined to the space of our vehicle and usually only focusing on the road ahead, other cars and potential obstacles. But commuting by foot, public transportation or ride-sharing services has allowed me to connect more with the world around me. I look up and around to take in what’s going on. I’m constantly taking pictures using my iPhone of the unique and mundane things that catch my eye and editing with the VSCO app on the fly. I have random conversations and encounters with fellow passengers (the ones with Lyft drivers are always my favorite). I get a shift of perspective to one that is not my own. And even if my face is typically buried in my phone, I still take the time to be aware of my surroundings. All of this has allowed me to fall more in love with the city of LA because of the way I’m able to travel through it.
Giving up your car may not be an option for everyone; I’ve been fortunate in my personal situation. But what I’ve learned is that while technology is often thought as a distraction or disruption, it’s actually the best enabler for efficiency and productivity. Services like Lyft/Uber, Amazon Prime Now and Joymode exist to give us all a bit of time back in our lives where we can focus on truly experiencing it. Communication apps and our phones allow us to do work from wherever we are without skipping a beat. If you too want to make better use of your commute time while driving, queue up a podcast or learn a new language through an app like Duolingo. Our phones and the countless of apps available for them have allowed us to become the ultimate multitaskers and better connected humans.