Just Survive? Some Thrive in L.A. — Without a Car

They say the car is king in Southern California. But more and more Angelenos are giving up their vehicles for life on two wheels.

Published November 13, 2007 by ABC7.com
By Gene Gleeson

They say the car is king in Southern California. But more and more Angelenos are giving up their vehicles for life on two wheels.

But is it really possible to live in L.A. without a car?

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Thousands of people are doing it every day. And most say they wouldn't have it any other way.

Every day is a thrill ride for Jimmy Lizama.

Dodging big rigs and pedestrians is second nature to this 32-year-old bicycle messenger who has spent a lifetime in L.A. without a car.

"It's a funny thing, you start riding a bike in any city and the city opens up to you," said Lizama.

For Jimmy, it's about embracing the city head-on, the locals, the landmarks, the neighborhoods we often miss on the other side of the windshield.

"In a car, you're so stuck in this vehicle, in this little box, and you don't interact with anybody out here. It's really, really horrible," said Lizama.

Filmmaker Katie Rogers ditched her car for 80 days.

"I actually feel kind of good now," said Rogers.

And documented the ups and downs of it for the upcoming movie "Carless in L.A."

"I had to take three buses and hike 30 minutes to get to work today," said Rogers.

Katie's one iron-clad rule? Zero carbon emissions. Hiking, biking and the bus took Katie's life out of the fast lane. Her first commute without a car? Three hours.

"This is insane," said Rogers.

But once she got rolling, Katie felt transformed.

"I was sore for the first few weeks, laughs, but I got in shape really fast," said Rogers. "It makes you more aware of where you live when you're not in your car."

Jimmy Lizama doesn't just ride his stripped-down, fixed-gear, brake-less bike.

"Part of me feels really bad for the drivers because they don't really get it," said Lizama.

Every turn, every stoplight is part performance art.

The money he saves is an added bonus.

"Tickets, gas, car insurance, car payments, fender-benders," said Lizama.

Jimmy is in fact so passionate about life on two wheels, he founded "The Bicycle Kitchen," a repair shop just off Melrose. It's run by volunteers, a non-profit dedicated to helping Angelenos get around L.A. on bikes.

"We help bicycle messengers, recreational riders, day laborers, kids, we have a women's night, we help everybody and anybody, it's not just hardcore cyclists," said Lizama. "And now we have a thousand cyclists out on the streets of L.A. using bicycles as main form of transportation, so it's really great."

"And I just feel like I get to experience my city in a way that I would never get to if I was stuck in traffic all day," said Emily Ramsey, who is also carless.

Katie Rogers survived her 80 days without a car.

"I saved 1.55 tons of carbon," said Rogers. "It was about 2,400 miles without a car in L.A."

Katie kicked her addiction to the automobile. "OK, cut, the end, this movie's over!" And she wants you to do the same.

"Try to be car-free, just try it for a day and see what your adventure will be," said Rogers.

Katie hopes to debut her film "Carless in L.A." at a film festival some time in the next year.