Navigating Los Angeles without a driver's license
Yeah. I know it's sounds impossible. After all, Los Angeles is famous for being unfriendly to pedestrians. I grew up in Oslo, a city with adequate public transportation and never got around to getting a driver's license. My first trip to L.A. without parents who could drive me made me overly concerned that I'd be unable to get around on my own in such a car-dependent city. Turned out, navigating L.A. without a driver's license is easier than ever – with some patience, of course. So much for the worries! There are Ubers and Lyfts waiting for you at every corner, and the public transportation isn't as bad as the rumors depicted. I just wish someone would tell me this, so I'm doing you a favor now and telling you not. to. worry!
1. Lyft and Uber
Lyft is my #1 ride of choice in the states. Compared to Uber, the rides are cheaper, funnier, the drivers share their stories with the passengers, and the vehicles come with a big pink moustache so you can easily spot your ride from afar. The app also shows a picture of the car that's picking you up, which is way easier than Uber's description of the car's vehicle identification number and model. Riding with Lyft resulted in having brunch with two Lyft drivers and visiting their home. It's a good way to meet locals. If you dislike talking to strangers in a car, avoid Lyft and opt for Uber. One downside about Lyft is that you need either an American phone number and/or (I don't remember??) American card in order to sign up. Uber is the best alternative, then.
What I love about Uber is that they offer bottled water, phone chargers, and your favorite tunes. I usually go for Uber pool, which is super cheap. You don't always end up sharing a car with other passengers but still paying half the price of a normal unshared ride. Once I paid $15 from Silver Lake to Pacific Palisades close to Santa Monica. The ride was more than 1 hour long and the other passenger got dropped off first but the detour was completely stress-free.
Indeed, there's a metro system in LA. Who would believe that? And it's rarely crowded because most people drive over there. The metro is quick, cheap and you can effortlessly get to the other side of the city avoiding the massive traffic jams. Talk about killing two birds with one stone! I used to stay in Downtown LA and had no problems with catching metros daily. The metro doesn't take your everywhere but close enough to most major hubs where it's easily to grab a Lyft or Uber for further transportation. Best way to save money on Lyft/Uber rides is to take the metro somewhere and continue with Lyft/Uber.
3. On foot
Yep, you heard me right. It is possible to explore the city of cars on foot. I love walking those empty residential streets in LA while working my tan. LA is synonymous with incredible architecture and by walking I get to see the greatest mid-century modern and art deco homes. In addition, most neighborhoods have walkable areas.
4. Friends and relatives with cars
I've been told they usually don't mind giving you a lift on their way somewhere. And I guess being unpresumptuous helps too.
Never rode a bike in LA before but I have friends who do that in combination with taking the metro.
Truth be told, I'm not the biggest fan of the buses in LA. However, I find them less icky on the westside in terms of cleanliness. And they're cheap.
The train is your best friend whenever you'd like to hit the burbs. Seems like commuters love the Amtrak, so avoid the rush hour if you can. Rumor has it that the ride is quite scenic but I was too distracted by the snack cart to even notice.