Friday, July 08, 2005

Lies, Damn Lies

I posted this to the comments on CalJunket too, but I feel the need to post it more prominently than that. In Rebecca's column on driving, she writes:

Unfortunately, both as reflections of their post-war urban design and by choice, Los Angeleans don’t seem to ever get tired of driving. And why should they? Parking is plentiful, streets are wide, left turns are protected, and freeways are populated by competent drivers. Operating a vehicle in LA is like going on Double Dare, taking the physical challenge, then finding that the only obstacle is to figure out why Marc Summers is so damned excited about orange flags.

Okay, not one of these things is true. I don't know if that's what it's like driving in Long Beach, but in LA proper, we sit in intersections waiting for red lights so one or two cars per light can make left turns, while traffic backs up for blocks behind. Even the widest of streets is not wide enough for the massive amount of traffic. Parking is scarce and expensive. Freeways are populated by skilled but reckless assholes. Operating a vehicle in LA is like going on Double Dare, expecting the obstacle course to be a breeze, and then getting stuck forever when you can't find the flag in the giant nose.

People do it because they don't have a choice. Buses just mean you get stuck in traffic, except you're not driving and you have to wait for them to pick you up. I would gladly take a subway if one existed in any useful form, but the LA Metro goes from nowhere to nowhere.

Sure, people like driving, in theory, like Communism. But whether you actually like it or not, what else are you going to do? It's too big for bicycles and if you try you'll be left dealing choking down exhaust while dealing with a frightening absence of bike lanes. Driving in LA is a system that is utterly broken, but there is no alternative. There is literally no viable form of transport for the greater LA area.

7 comments:

cyshas said...

Wow Kenny. Now I definitely want to rent a car when I go to LA. Makes me wonder about the affordability of a taxi. Makes me wonder about living there. Saw openings at a few companies like Disney, Dreamworks, and Tokyopop...but really wondering...

Kenny said...

To be fair, I was exaggerating a bit to counter Rebecca's ridiculously utopian description. In reality, the left-turn backup from unprotected left-turn intersections seldom stretch back more than one block.

Everything else, however, is completely accurate.

Sarah said...

I don't know Rebecca or her writing, but that paragraph you quoted was clearly written in Bizarro World.

Tommaso Sciortino said...

To be fair, Rebecca was mostly in Long Beach, not LA proper.

Kenny said...

I inferred that, but that is why Rebecca should use the phrase "Long Beach" to refer to Long Beach, as opposed to using the phrase "Los Angeles" to refer to Long Beach. It would prevent people from mistakenly believing that she's making absurdly inaccurate generalizations.

lyan! said...

While I'll agree that Long Beach, as a seperate world, can> have better traffic than LA proper, it's not enough that I'd ever talk about it lovingly. No, southern California traffic is approaching constant-nightmare status.
The crux example is this: When's "rush hour?" Hmm... from maybe about 4pm until about 6pm or 7pm...
Wha? that's much more than a hour... the rest of the nation still has only a single hour folks.
I mean, it's always going to be bearable, I guess, but as you can't exist in LA without a car, and as people keep having babies and eventually those babies become car-driving teenagers... the traffic is only going to get disgustingly worse. Unless maybe Antonio Villarigosa does something -- I like him.

Kenny said...

Wait! I've figured it out! Rebecca's one weekend driving in Southern California was Independence Day weekend, the one weekend when half the population is mysteriously out of town or at home--the same weekend I myself waxed rhapsodic about the anomaly of glorious traffic conditions! The stuff about parking and protected left turns is still out of Bizarro World, but now I understand why she thinks she can drive 80 on a freeway.