This blog, The Pedestrian is an online guide to living in Los Angeles without a car.
One week ago, I launched a website and blog called The Pedestrian.
The purpose of this site was simple: offer people the resources they needed to learn how to live and thrive in major US cities without owning a car.
This was a personally resonant endeavor. Ever since my rusting 1997 Subaru Legacy succumbed to a smoky death on the shoulder of Interstate 93, back in the winter of 2014, I’ve been a pedestrian and I haven’t looked back. What this lifestyle may lack in convenience and flair is outweighed by the social compact of seeing the world on foot. Not to mention, the added perks of burning more calories and saving more money each month. The Pedestrian was going to be a form of advocacy for walking, as a lifestyle. I planned to launch it here in Los Angeles, and hopefully, take it to more cities in the future.
Then, something happened that shook my entire reality off balance.
Against all odds, Donald Trump, an outspoken authoritarian, racist, and sexual predator won the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election. The Republican Party, which supported Trump’s candidacy and enabled his hateful behavior on the campaign trail, assumed a majority hold on Congress. Any semblance of checks and balances disappeared overnight. And on that blackest of nights, here in LA, a city that is 47.5% Hispanic, a collective roar resounded. It still echoes on every street.
It has taken me a few days to fully absorb the implications of what this election result will mean for America, and what intensity of resistance it will require from the majority of Americans who did not vote for Trump and oppose what the Republican Party is now preparing to do. Between the prospect of human rights being slashed, healthcare being ripped away from millions of people, our economy being at the mercy of a man who has driven multiple businesses into the ground, and our environment being treated like a pissing ground, I feel like a war has begun.
I moved to LA under the naive supposition that this would not happen: that tolerance and progress would determine the race result. A part of me knew that Trump could win: that the Democrats had lost touch with their populist roots and alienated large swaths of the nation by embracing technocratic elites whose answer to all economic ails is essentially “meritocracy for all.” This, at a time of tremendous economic inequality, was a grave liability for my party. And yet, I hoped that the darkness of Trump’s vision for America would turn enough to stomachs to prevent it from eclipsing the incremental progress that has been made during the past decade.
Now that this hope has proven unfounded, I have spent most of my waking hours questioning everything, weighing my initial plans for LA against the political storm that’s rumbling closer, and the work that must be done to survive it. The thought of dropping this project arose more than once. What’s a blog in the face of autocracy?
But then, after speaking with several individuals whom I love dearly and whose opinions I value, I was reminded that expression in any form is a powerful affront to oppression and injustice. Even before Trump’s electoral victory, the mission of The Pedestrian was to help people resist machinations that dictate what kind of lives we should be leading, what commodities we must own, and how we are to appraise our status. That, in itself, is a form of rebellion. And so, after much introspection, I have arrived at the following resolution.
The Pedestrian will live on. And evolve.
I will spend the next two months fulfilling the original goal: to build an online encyclopedia for Los Angelenos who want to “make it” without wheels in one of America’s most car-reliant cities. The need for alternative transit options, and the local curiosity about adopting such a lifestyle, are just as relevant as they were when the presidential race was undecided. In fact, given the threat that a Trump administration poses to the environment and funding for mass transit projects like those that are reshaping LA right now, that mission may be more relevant than it was before.
Once the LA content of The Pedestrian is complete, I will be relocating to the east coast to find a community in which to work, settle, and contribute. The long term goal of this venture is to learn how local government works, listen to my neighbors, and one day, run for a role in public office and fight the wave of hatred and destruction that Trump has unleashed and the Republican Party has allowed to sweep across America. As I undergo this journey, The Pedestrian will continue to exist as a field guide to resistance. The scope will likely broaden far beyond walking and car ownership. The events of the next few months and years will determine where this project goes.
Whatever happens, wherever we are going, I will continue to write, to illuminate, and to speak persuasively as an advocate for vaulting oneself into the world and savoring all the sounds, sights, and souls it has to offer.
See you in the streets,