by Karen Lowe
Da-dum. Carmageddon is over. Just like that — poof. Good grief, after all the hype! The experience was not unlike having a heralded blockbuster action movie with high-octane graphics and over the top hydraulic sound came out on the screen and — give a polite, hand-covered cough.
With the dire warnings accompanying the closing of the 405 –one of the most heavily traveled highways in the country –I swear there were fewer people on the highways over the weekend than in the days after the last major earthquake or 9/11. Terrorists, take note: If you want to strike fear into hearts of Angelenos don’t bother with messy bombs, just block one of their beloved highways. And, yes, I was one of those who clung to the hem of my neighborhood. I dared not take alternate highways to meet an out of town friend on the other side of the city.
Our highways are our Achilles heel. When I go back east where the summer humidity will kill you if the heat doesn’t; where you have to break ice off your windshield and key hole just to get your car out of the driveway; where mosquitoes leave me looking like I have small pox, there is a always a friend or relative who will try and level me by talking about our traffic. I view traffic much like weather. If it gets really bad, get out of it. Take side streets, or time your travel better. Or just ‘be one’ with it and listen to a book on tape.
I’ve travelled in some pretty rough traffic circles – Cairo, Kuala Lumpur, Washington, Boston and San Francisco. And as bad as the traffic can get on some LA highways (and I’m not going to dish about my alternate routes) the drivers here are pretty Zen. If I’m just about to miss an exit, somebody will let me in without leaning on the horn. Do not attempt this in Boston or Washington, D.C.
But I am told by Bending Borders host and reporter Rachel Louise Snyder that the seventh circle of traffic hell is actually in Phnom Penh. Check out her story on our ‘listen’ page.