Earlier this year, Los Angeles Magazine launched Better off Ped, a challenge encouraging Angelenos to ditch their cars when travelling within two miles of home, inspired by an article I wrote for the magazine’s March issue. Fifty readers pledged to do it—and I was thrilled.
Since I shed my automobile six years ago and committed to navigating Los Angeles on foot (and sometimes on bus or bike), my life has been transformed by the beauty and bizarreness I've witnessed from a pedestrian's perspective. Now I can't go a block without snapping a photo of weird and wonderful L.A. captured from the sidewalk, and I'm excited to share one image a week here at CityThink.
When heading home from a doctor's appointment the other day, I took a roundabout route back to the bus stop, walking up Robertson just before the day’s unbearable mugginess gave way to rare July showers. As it started to sprinkle, I stopped underneath this jungle-like canopy of fluorescent pink bougainvillea, tropical-looking Cassia leptophylla (commonly known as the Gold Medallion tree), and a tangle of pale pink roses. I imagined the pedestrian crosswalk sign in the distance to be more like a type of national park signage, designating this as A Notable Place for Walkers. You might appreciate the flowering trees from a car, but you'd never know about this secret, fragrant arbor that happened to smell even better in a soft summer rain.
It was at that moment I turned to my right and saw a message: STOP AND SMELL THE ROSES painted on the window of a home and garden store.
It’s cliché—and was being used to market the store, sure—but I took it as a fortuitous sign for my first street view shared here. I hope my photos encourage you to stop and notice something on the sidewalks, too.
Alissa Walker is a writer, a gelato eater, and a walker in L.A. She shares an experience from her adventures around town at CityThink each Wednesday. Follow her daily on Instagram at @awalkerinLA, on Twitter, or at her blog, and use the hashtag #betteroffped to share your own photographs of walking in L.A.