As I have mentioned in earlier posts, I recently moved from the Boston metro area back to my hometown on Long Island near NYC after 24 years away. In the last 7 years, I went on vacation to Los Angeles three times; the first time I stayed downtown, the second time near Park La Brea, and the last time in Santa Monica. Now that I am back on Long Island, I see similarities between the two locations that I did not see or understand in the past.
SIMILARITY #1: TOTAL SQUARE MILEAGE
Whether you live in Nassau County, in one of the five New York City boroughs, or in the city of Los Angeles, you live in a metropolitan area that covers hundreds of square miles. Nassau County is smallest at 453 square miles, New York City is slightly larger at 468 square miles, and the city of Los Angeles is largest at 503 square miles. When I was growing up, I kept hearing about how much bigger LA was. I imagined the difference would be considerably larger than a 50 square mile difference. I know that LA is a county but, for comparison purposes, I am focusing on the city proper itself.
SIMILARITY #2: RELIANCE ON CARS
Although NY has better public transportation, the sheer size means that getting around on public transportation can take a while and not always convenient, which is why many people choose to drive cars. Because of the number of cars on the road, traffic is terrible in both cities, especially rush hour traffic. According to this USA Today online article, New Yorkers spent more time in traffic (the highest average commute time of 34.9 minutes) during peak hours than in Los Angeles (the 15th ranked average commute time at 28.6 minutes). I am not sure how LA can be more congested than NY and still have a lower average commute time.
SIMILARITY #3: NO ONE WALKS ON LONG ISLAND, EITHER
When the market crashed in 2007/2008, the streets of Boston and Cambridge were flooded with bicyclists commuting to work in protest of the $4/gallon gasoline prices. Even when things returned to normal, bicycle commuting did not drop off. When I drove around New York in my parents car shortly after moving back, I was stunned: I saw almost no one walking or using a bicycle. Granted, I am now in Nassau County, but the lack of anything other than cars shocked me. It feels like a human wasteland instead of a vibrant community of humanity.
Maybe they are all at the gym.