Top LA Legends #6: Nobody Walks In LA

this one speaks for its self

We’ve all heard the Missing Persons song entitled “Walking in LA“, which states that “nobody walks in LA”. The song backs the premise up with examples such as you never see cops walking the beat, and you don’t see kids walking home from school. This may have been more accurate in the 80’s in my neighborhood, but the question remains, do people actually walk in Los Angeles?

I can assuredly state that people do walk in LA, especially in Downtown. I live in Downtown LA and tonight I will be taking part in the Art Walk, in which hundreds of people walk around to the 30+ galleries in Downtown LA. After that I will be walking to have dinner with my wife.

During the day and the weekend the streets in Downtown are full of people walking every which way. Recently the LAPD has put cops back on the beat and they walk through the streets of Downtown and make our neighborhood a safer place to live.


Last year, LA largest ever protest took place, and half a million people took to the streets on foot to support their cause for immigrant rights. Several of my friends in Downtown LA walk to work every day and many people take the subways and walk to their final destinations.

Clearly people do walk in LA.

28 thoughts on “Top LA Legends #6: Nobody Walks In LA”

  1. Well, duh, of course SOME people walk in L.A.–that’s hardly the point. Compare L.A. with New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, even Minneapolis, and by comparison L.A. is indeed, for all intents and purposes, a non-walking city.

  2. I am sooooo tired of hearing about this myth. I live in the crowded Miracle Mile section of the city, and I can assure you, plenty of people walk in LA.

    I have often chosen to walk anywhere within a two-4 mile radius from my place, which covers a considerable chunk of places to go.

    I will admit, not many people who live in the single tenant houses walk much, except on Saturdays, if you catch my drift! :->

  3. Sorry, I just have to say this…but that march had AT LEAST a million people.
    By the way, it’s easier to walk in LA if you live in the older neighborhoods that were created pre-automobile i.e. Echo Park, Boyle Heights, Lincoln Heights, Angelino Heights etc. These neighborhoods practically beg you to take a stroll through them.

  4. Forget nobody walks in LA. I don’t hear that as much as a I hear “it never rains in Southern California.” Both are false, of course.

  5. I have a loft Downtown and I walk quite a lot – usually 20 to 30 blocks per day when I am in the city. I see a lot of other people walking as well. Sure, we may not have the crowded sidewalks of NYC, but show me those crowded sidewalks on a gray, cold, rainy or snowy February day. Not only is LA a very walkable city (at least in part, like Downtown and Brentwood), we can geneally enjoy walking here all year round. Yes, it gets quite hot in summer – but a little sweat never hurt anyone… and again, NYC in August can be a humid oven.

  6. No, it is not a myth. Obviously yes, there are people who walk in LA. However even when it is below zero in Chicago in any given neighborhood you will find more people walking in that neighborhood than you will find people walking in any given neighborhood in LA on the most beautiful day of the year.

  7. However even when it is below zero in Chicago in any given neighborhood you will find more people walking in that neighborhood than you will find people walking in any given neighborhood in LA on the most beautiful day of the year.

    That’s just laughably ridiculous.

  8. what the heck does that photo have to do with walking in LA? A lot of people clogging up the streets for legal residents!

  9. Aaron…

    Can you back up your assertation? I am curious. Maybe I can even learn something… I love doing that… Thanks!

  10. Time…

    Well, it shows people WALKING, and it was in LA… so why not? BTW, I was in that march. I was born in the US of Aaaay. I do not condone illegal immigration. I do support the basic human rights and dignity of all persons, and this nation needs to wake up and get real about what we really are. Believe me, I was not the only “white guy” in the march. Where were you?

    Will… great story! I hike in the mountains regularly, I usually limit it to about 10-12 miles, but to walk the entire 25 mile length of Sunset is quite the urban adventure. Sometimes walking from 9th to 2nd along Main is an adventure – and that is just 7 blocks! That’s inspiring… keep us posted on your next conquest.

  11. I walk when I’m in Pedro all the time – lovely views, quiet sidewalks. But I think walks are more recreational than practical, if that makes sense. That is, we do it because we enjoy the stroll. Unless you live and work downtown or in another more densely packed part of the city, you probably walk for fun, but drive to get somewhere.

  12. I need to agree with CD. Few people walk for more than recreation in LA. In other cities, people walk to work, to pick up groceries, to go to school. In LA, we drive to all these places. And I write this as someone who probably walks more than the average Angeleno.

    Maybe downtown residents are the only exception. But due to its sprawl, LA is a driving city. If people walk, its only to and from their car.

  13. Anyone who doesn’t get out to explore this city on foot is missing out in a big way. As the author of “Walking LA: 36 Walking Tours Exploring Stairways, Streets and Buildings You Never Knew Existed,” I’ve made it my mission to encourage more people to get out of their cars and really see what this amazingly vast and diverse city has to offer. You simply miss too much when whizzing through LA’s neighborhoods in a car.

  14. Thanks Ken! I guess this post’s comment thread is just a good a place as any to reveal the next mega-walk I’d like to do, which our Cybele suggested: Western Avenue from Franklin Avenue all the way down to its terminus alongside. I think that’s 24 miles. No firm date yet, but I’ll be keep you in the loop.

    And PS. Another great tale of two feet is Mike Schneider of Franklin Avenue blog who in November to celebrate his 10th year in town walked the entire length of Wilshire with a whole mess of friends and bloggers. Word is he’s thinking about tackling Pico next.

  15. David, I don’t think you can say “few people walk for more than recreation in LA” What neighborhood do you live in? In my neighborhood there are tons of people all day walking to work, school and to shop. I know there are many other neighborhoods like mine as well. It’s not just Downtown LA, I’m surprised you would think that…
    During the last bus strike it was even more apparent how many people did not use a car for getting around. The sidewalks were filled with people walking and bicycling to school and work.

  16. Chimatli:
    I’m talking Hollywood to Santa Monica, from the 101 all the way to the beach.
    I’m not saying there aren’t exceptions, but the Los Angeles I know of is less a walking city than any other.
    Certainly, saying “nobody” walks in LA is a severe exaggeration, but I see where the view stems from.

  17. 5000!: Laughably ridiculous, maybe…but still more true than false. I’ve lived in both Chicago and in LA, and trust me, more people walk in Chicago. To be fair, I’ve only lived in LA for a year and my experience is of the LA that David mentions (west of the 101). Most people walk in LA for recreation. Chicago is a city with great public transit and where parking is outrageous…as a result, much of the population doesn’t own cars. I was one of those people. I have walked 6 blocks to the train station in zero degree weather only to wait for the train in the cold for another twenty minutes, and I wasn’t alone…during rush hour the platform would be filled with people. Walking here is for recreation, walking in Chicago is a daily necessity.

  18. Cities like Chicago and New York have more dense urban sections than LA does, but if those cities also have many suburban areas as well, and if you compare the dense portions of each city with LA’s dense portions, and then the suburban areas with LA’s suburban areas, the walking thing pretty much equals out. To me, living downtown, it’s funny that the people who live in the SUBURBAN west side and valley think they live in the city. Sure, they are within the city limits, but hey, it’s the suburbs. Nobody walks in the suburbs because those areas were designed to make that difficult or impossible. That’s true in LA, New York, and Chicago.

  19. David,
    Hollywood to Santa Monica (not even part of LA) is leaving out a huge chunk of the city, don’t you think? Maybe it’s more accurate to say “people in West LA” rather than “people in LA” only walk for recreational purposes.
    Aaron, try walking around in other neighborhoods east of the Hollywood Fwy and you’ll be surprised how much street life you’ll find. :)

  20. David and Aaron got it right. I’ve lived in L.A. (6 years), Minneapolis (1 year), and Chicago (5 years), and L.A. just doesn’t walk as much. Even factoring in the suburb vs. high density argument, you simply don’t have the same business approach to walking in L.A. as you do in Chicago. Groceries and errands by train, going to work by train or bus, shopping on foot, walking from club to club, or bar to restaurant to park: Angelenos don’t even come close to Chicagoans (or New Yorkers, etc.) in this department.

  21. Where in LA do you actually live? I do shopping, run errands, go to bars, restaurants, the gym and can easily hop on the train by walking 5 minutes or less. Currently I live in Downtown, but when I lived in Hollywood it was the same thing.

    As Sean Bonner pointed out in another thread, the point of this thread wasn’t “do people walk more in LA than other cities”, it was that people do walk in LA.

  22. I live in WeHo and regularly walk to the grocery store, target, restaurants, post office, my bank. I can go for days and days without driving my car. And I love finding a reason to drive my car.

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