how i made my errands walkable

there’s a post i’ve been itching to write for a long time, but it wasn’t quite finished yet, so i left it on the back burner. recently, a talk by alissa walker, which included the suggestion to make 1- and 2-mile radius maps, completed the puzzle for me and i decided to write the whole thing. funnily enough, my car needs a repair and my mechanic is booked for a month, so i get to put all this information into practice immediately!

awhile back, i decided to integrate walking a lot more into my day, and figured if i was exercising while doing errands, taking an hour to walk an errand loop would no longer be seen as taking too long—it’s merely displacing an hour workout. in my determination to do as many errands as i could on foot and within my 1-mile neighborhood, i mapped out as many businesses as i could and replaced further / driven errands with places i could walk to, or pass on my way home from the bus.

echo park landmarks

1. cookbook: small, organic market with fresh produce and specialty foods.
2. blue collar working dog: it may be primarily dog supplies, but they have high-quality cat food in single cans, for times when i’m between the larger packs i buy elsewhere.
3. house of spirits: the local liquor store with the biggest variety.
4. beauty box / sunset beer co: beauty box is an excellent local hairdresser i’ve been using for years. next door is sunset beer co., a specialty beer store that doubles as a comfy bar.
5. friday farmer’s market: we have our very own weekly farmer’s market right here in echo park on friday afternoons, 3-7pm.
6. echo park & lake: a great place to take a walk or run around the .88-mi path around the lake. we’ll have to measure the new path after the rehabilitation is complete.
7. the echo: we have one of the coolest night club & venues [there are 2 on-site] right here in echo park. being able to avoid parking and have a few drinks without thinking about driving is invaluable!
8. edendale library: i’ve been trying to do all my reading on borrowed books. combine the library’s online book request system with a walkable library and you have reading material at your fingertips within a couple days.
9. mohawk bend: not just the local watering hole with the most taps, but also a client! i do a lot of meetings here, so the walkability is key. it should be mentioned, though, that there are tons of places to eat all over echo park, and mohawk bend is maybe the furthest from my house, so there are plenty of choices anywhere in-between.
10. vons: i don’t do much market shopping, but there are times when i do need something in a pinch, and vons is the only market that carries our preferred cat litter, so i go there to get that, and withdraw cash on my atm transaction to avoid any bank visits & foreign atm fees.
11. rite-aid: i currently don’t use rite-aid, but after walgreens [on sunset & echo park] stopped working with my insurance, i figured i’d see if i can fill prescriptions here. currently i’m at CVS and the walkability is much lower.
12. edendale post office: i do a fair amount of mailing, and this post office allows me to get some secret stairs in on the way over.
13. yogala: a great yoga studio a 10 minute walk from my house, with 2 alternatives: the longer / flatter route, or hiking up a hill and taking the avalon stairs.
14. elysian park / dodger stadium: when walking purely for exercise and sight-seeing, the beginning of the portola trail is just steps from my front door. dodger stadium is just through elysian park via academy road.

BUS, glendale blvd: there are a few convenient 92 and 603 bus stops at points on glendale blvd. that i use. taking it north, i can get to atwater village, where i also shop, take sewing class, exercise at heartbeat house, or visit my mom [this bus also goes to downtown glendale & burbank]. my new use of this bus will be to avoid biking over glendale blvd so i can more easily get to the river bike path. to the south, this bus goes downtown.

BUS, montana st.: the 200 bus takes alvarado and hoover streets to meet up with the expo line going to culver city. on its way, it crosses wilshire, which is a great way to catch the 20/720 west to LACMA or other points in mid-city.

BUS, sunset blvd: at sunset & echo park, i can pick up the 2/302 or 4/704, and take them anywhere downtown, to meet up with the trains at union station, or travel west to hollywood, anywhere on the west side, or the beach!

last year, i made a rough draft of this map to see how much was covered within echo park. i think it’s pretty impressive! there are very few things i can’t do on an afternoon break / errand walk. i should mention, i have alternative solutions to the bank [mailing deposits / cash at atm transactions] and some i’ve gotten lazy about and reverted to driving. jason has chosen to hold a premiere amazon account, so sometimes we order inconvenient items on free shipping as well.

what alissa put into perspective was mapping 1-mile and 2-mile radius terrain around my home and trying always to walk the 1-mile routes. i didn’t realize i had already done this [or at least figured it out, if i didn’t always stick to it]. the challenge then becomes, will you walk to the 2-mile destinations? here are what mine look like:

1-mile radius

looking at this map, i’m right on track with my errand plan—even the dreaded CVS / pet store walk, which is only a pain because that stretch of glendale blvd is busy and has scary tire tracks where people have clearly driven up on the curb as they speed toward the 2 freeway entrance. i’ve decided that’s too clear a sign of danger, but maybe i can take the 92 bus instead.

2-mile radius with 1-mile overlay for comparison

this map makes me cringe when i think about walking this far anywhere that’s not sunset blvd or through elysian park via stadium way into chinatown. those walks are direct and i’ve done them with predictable turnaround times. however, anywhere directly east or north outside of glendale blvd. is not really a clear path. hills and dead-ends north of sunset rule out those routes, and the length of the walk if i go down to sunset and back up north makes it a trip i’d more likely bike. similarly, to get over the river in the quadrant directly north to east, the only through-way is stadium way, which is not safe to walk due to low visibility by speeding commuters. when i want to get there by bike, i have the choice of glendale blvd., or the roundabout trip through the park to chinatown, north on broadway to where it meets figueroa in cypress park. that works on a bike, but i’d never walk it if given the choice.

interestingly, in both cases, i didn’t realize just how much is covered in 1 and 2 miles of my house. it’s more than i thought, and a great reminder that there’s almost nothing you can’t do with the combination of walking, biking and using transit. now i have to figure out how to cart things that don’t fit in a backpack or pannier bags. since i’ll have no other choice for the next month, i’m going to strategize and put it all into action. i expect to learn a great deal, so i’ll share the unexpected surprises

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