So when I started examining my non-car options, it required a fair amount of research—which turned it into a kind of game. Using the deductive reasoning skills of Google Maps and a young Yelp.com, every time I left the house, I could determine if my needs could be met by walking instead. My first moment of clarity came when I realized I could walk to a grocery store that I was certain was halfway to Westwood. Thanks to the programmers in Mountain View, it was now only eleven blocks away.
My services were relocated. A drug store nearby got my prescription business; the dry cleaner at the bottom of my street would work just fine. I walked to the West Hollywood Target in the time it had previously taken to negotiate its parking structure. I reasoned that I didn’t really need to drive to the farmers’ market ten blocks away—and once I almost died carrying a watermelon home, just to prove it.
In general, things aren’t as far away as we think they are (probably more true in a city like LA where everything is 15 minutes away but it takes an hour to get anywhere). I think our next move will involve thinking about ways we can be less car reliant, specifically, how can we (and by we I mean my wife who will be the one responsible for getting the kids to where they need to be) be close enough to cycle or walk the kids to school at least a few days a week.