This past weekend was meant to be madness here in Los Angeles. The media were frenetic with their predictions of 'carmaggeddon'--huge traffic jams, nightmare scenarios of cars blocking every available side street because of the closing of a 10 mile section of the 405 freeway--the busiest section of the busiest freeway in the world. There was round the clock updating, endless renderings of what was going to happen with the construction, reporters driving around Los Angeles on various freeways with cameras in their cars reminding us of alternative routes, advising us to stay home etc. etc. And? Nothing. It went seamlessly. The work was finished fourteen hours before they planned so the freeway was opened back up way ahead of schedule. Traffic jams? Zero. Horror on neighbourhood side streets? No. In terms of 'carmageddon' it was a bust.
What was interesting was that it highlighted the truth that it is possible to live in Los Angeles and not drive anywhere and everywhere, just because. It was a revelation that another world is possible and all it took was a concerted effort to raise awareness and get people of the streets, out of their cars-using public transport and shopping/going out etc. in their own neighbourhoods. Now I realize that these were special circumstances-it's not every week that a whole freeway gets shut down-but it did prove the point that we can take a different view toward living in the city. Imagine if it was a conscious choice not to drive one weekend every couple of months or whatever--it can be done, because we just did it, and the reports about the experience have all been positive.
Los Angeles as the nightmare driving city is not the only truth about Los Angeles--like most things in life, it can be a different experience with a few small but significant adjustments to business as usual.
I like Los Angeles, I have lived here a long time and enjoyed the city--this past weekend was even more enjoyable--even though I actually was out and about in ways that I usually am not---Friday night I went to a free outdoor concert featuring Seun Kuti--Saturday I watched the LA Galaxy get their arses kicked by Real Madrid--there were les crowds at both events--but that only made them more enjoyable really. There were no downsides to 'carmaggedon'--none at all. Like most predictions about the 'end' it ended with a whimper not a scream and the media moved on to the next thing---where is Casey Anthony?!!!!!