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LA Would Be A Big Small Town
...If somebody did something about the traffic. I drove to Silverlake at around 9:20 Sunday morning for Maia Lazar's 18th birthday Sunday afternoon. It took me, from the entrance on the 10 freeway at Lincoln Boulevard near Olympic to the Starbucks at Glendale Blvd. and Silverlake Blvd...a grand total of 20 minutes. The same ride on a weekday afternoon? Two screamingly horrible hours.

But, what to do? Subway? Monorail? I'd get around town a whole lot more if it wasn't so painful -- like last week's three-hour trip from Santa Monica to Dodger Stadium...part of which was the parking hell Matt Welch wrote about in the LA Times a few weeks ago:

Enter the Dodgers' pratfall-prone owner. McCourt (who made a fortune in parking lots in his native Boston) decided in the off-season that the way to improve Chavez Ravine's car-crunch was to eliminate the one thing keeping it from being a real nightmare: human choice.

Now, instead of traffic flowing opportunistically into whatever route the defense offers, fans are being herded like goats into lots near where they enter, and forced (with a few exceptions) to leave exactly from whence they came. The result Monday was as predictable as a runner advancing on Juan Pierre: The worst traffic most people had ever seen at a baseball game.

I managed the two-mile- plus post-game commute to work in a cool 90 minutes, and even that doesn't do justice to the horror. Planners have created scores of new parking spots from which you can only exit by backing up directly into the three-lane flow of outbound traffic, a feat requiring an average of three uniformed traffic herders per disruption.

Thankfully, the Dodgers' website urges attendees to check the "parking alert page," where you can learn such handy tips of the day as "check traffic before you leave for the stadium" and "arrive early at the ballpark to avoid missing any of the game." Even that latter tip is a cruel hoax: The parking gates only open two hours before game time so as to discourage tailgating.

At a certain point, I'd rather just stay home and read about Los Angeles. For those who concur, I recommend Denise Hamilton's crime novels about the LA Times reporter/crime-solver Eve Diamond (My favorite: Prisoner of Memory), but there's also her most recent, the anthology Los Angeles Noir, with stories by Denise and 16 other LA writers.

Posted by aalkon at May 7, 2007 7:12 AM


I have long thought that a requirement for a driver's license should be a one day course in motorcycle riding.

Southern California only has 340 days just made for riding a motorcycle, and a course for all would not only increase the riders, but would probably make riding safer for everyone (by some vague process of making it more aware and accessible to those drivers still behind a wheel.)

Thank you for the links to Denise Hamilton and LA Noir. LA Detective Fiction is how I stay in touch with my home town.

Posted by: jerry at May 7, 2007 5:03 AM

Amy: Thank you for putting the link to Cathy Seipp's amazing daughter, Maia. Her writing is so moving and impressive.

Posted by: Jody Tresidder at May 7, 2007 5:48 AM

I'm glad you mentioned Denise Hamilton's crime novels. I am currently reading LA Noir and loving it, so I will check her novels out next. Thanks.

Posted by: Angela at May 7, 2007 6:00 AM

This is not going to get any better. There's nothing to be done, and even if there were, there isn't.

We're all just waiting to move to Portland.

Posted by: Crid at May 7, 2007 8:03 AM

Yes, it would be great if somebody could do something about the traffic, but Amy what reasonable solutions do you have?

Its not like you are first person to realize that driving accross town at "off-hours" can result in a quick trip.

Posted by: Brian at May 7, 2007 9:44 AM

This is not going to get any better. There's nothing to be done, and even if there were, there isn't.

My experience with LA traffic and politics suggests that Crid is right. But I always wondered why there hasn't been serious consideration of above-ground rail service that parallels the 405 (from say, Long Beach to Sherman Oaks) and the 10 (from say, Pomona to Santa Monica), with stations along the way that have decent bus service to local business centers. Caltrain, which is not entirely dissimilar (the main route parallels the 101 up in the Bay Area), makes for an easy commute between San Francisco and Mountainview, San Jose, etc.

Posted by: justin case at May 7, 2007 1:01 PM

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