If you're from any part of America besides Los Angeles, you've probably dissed the California city at one point or another. It's full of smog, traffic and vain movie stars, right? But that narrative misses out on so much of what L.A. has to offer.
Not only is the city an exciting and rewarding place to live for many people, it's also, surprisingly, a great place to raise a family and — believe it or not — a good place to walk and bike.
Alissa Walker is living proof of this. She's the Urbanism Editor for Curbed and a long-time resident of Los Angeles. She's made the city work for her and actually says that walking or biking is often easier than driving in her neighborhood. When she realized this a few years back, she ditched her car and has been enjoying bus rides, bike rides and walks with her family ever since. She's also watched the city around her change as investments in public space, walking, biking and transit grow.
Now a mother of two young children, she loves the freedom and quality time that busing, biking and walking gives her with her kids. Instead of Alissa spending 30 minutes stressed out in traffic while her daughter sits in the back seat, they get to sit next to each other and watch the world go by together on the bus. She says her daughter is "Metro Los Angeles' biggest fan."
It took a little while to figure out the best ways to navigate transit and biking with children and there are definitely challenges that come with juggling two kids at once, but for Alissa and her family, the benefits far outweigh the challenges. Alissa's hopeful that cities like hers will continue to figure out ways to welcome and accommodate families.
One way they can do that is by inviting more women to take the lead in decision making and urban planning. "With all the accusations of sexual harassment and sexual assault [...] over the last few months — a lot of that stuff is happening in public spaces, too, and on public transit, and making women afraid to do things like ride transit and ride the bus and walk to the bus stop," says Alissa. "[It's] making people feel unsafe to be out with their kids in public places. [...] That's, to me, why we need to design our cities for women and children, and to put the women in charge so they understand those challenges."
This thoughtful and fun conversation with Alissa Walker will challenge your Los Angeles stereotypes and help you think about what it means to build a family- and woman-friendly city.