Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash: Pick Two (aghrivaine) wrote,
Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash: Pick Two
aghrivaine

Rush Hour

I've discovered something interesting about rush hour in LA. It doesn't exist.
There is no time of day which is particularly more or less trafficky than any other - with the exception (maybe) of late at night. The fact is that at all hours, the freeway (any freeway) is jam-packed, all six lanes, with people in a desperate rush to drive very slowly.

This seems odd, since I presume that every other driver, like me, is fuming over stop-and-go, first-gear-grinding dead-slow traffic on the alleged "free" way. If we're all on the same sheet of music, and we all want to get where we're going in the minimum possible time with the least possible fuss and aggravation, why then do people drive slowly for no apparent reason? If, upon entering the "free"way everyone were to use their right foot and accelerate, we would maintain a happy, speedy pace until such time as we were to choose to exit. This, no doubt, is what the civil engineers who planned LA's thoroughfares, byways, and jamways intended: smiling travellers cheerily giving way to entering and exiting traffic, all of whom speedily and smoothly accelerated into the river of automotive progress.
Instead, one gets on the ramp to the jamway only to be greeted by a redlight. "Ha ha!" thinks the trafficlight, "You thought by getting on this ramp that you would be able to go faster! More the fool you! Instead, you must immediatly stop, until I turn green, which will not be in any discernible pattern!" (At least, that's what the trafficlights on jamway ramps would think if they were invested with a malevolent artificial intelligence. Which I think they are, but can't prove.) Once one has passed the Scylla of the stoplight on the go-ramp, one is immediately greeted by the Charybdis of traffic at a dead stop, backed up for mile upon mile upon mile. Generally one will not manage to get out of first gear until about a mile before one has to exit, regardless of how far one has to travel. Notable exception: at night, down a mountain pass, in the rain, Californians will generally accelerate to at least 80mph.

Side roads are slightly better, but being new here, I don't know them all that well. I've ended up loster than Oddyseus on occasion: once I ended up somewhere north of Koreatown when I was headed for Burbank. If I hadn't have had my laptop GPS with me, I might have even now been languishing somewhere in Sacramento. But, the problem with side-roads is that there are stoplights. There are also jamway exits, which back up, sometimes gridlocking the side-road for several blocks.

LA needs rocketpacks, badly. It used to be that LA had the best public transit and light rail system in the country. However, back in the late 50's a cartel of automotive and oil companies bought out the train companies, bought the LA city council, and tore up all the train tracks, thus assuring a future in which there is a car for every man, woman and child in LA, all of whom refuse to drive more than one-to-a-car, and all of whom seem to relish driving very slowly on 12 lane highways above all else. I'm not kidding about the pubtrans cartel thing, either - that's just history.

So, despite the fact that I have only a 12 mile commute from Van Nuys to Burbank, it often takes me more than an hour. Most of the guys I work with get up at about 4:30AM in order to travel in the dead of night. Their trip home in the early afternoon is still wretched, but at least half the way is not so bad; a practice I may yet develop. Or I'm going to invent an rocketpack, and cackled things like "they called me mad at the academy!" as I roar over the jammed highways on a comet-trail of flame and freedom.
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