Here in Los Angeles, we love our cars. Really, really love them. We do anything we can to avoid using our feet, our legs, or any form of public transit. Should we need to reach some far (or near) destination, we travel via our network of free highways (“freeways” for those of you not familiar with Southern California automotive nomenclature). They’re clogged with traffic, marred with graffiti, strewn with trash and king-sized potholes, but eventually they get us where we want to go.
It’s a love/hate relationship, and although they make us miserable at times, we just can’t imagine life without them.
Until this coming weekend, when CalTrans will close – that’s close as in completely shut down – a 10 mile section of the 405, one of the busiest stretches of road in the country, if not the world.
To our car-centric culture, this is nothing short of a Biblical-sized catastrophe.
Carmageddon. The Sepulcalypse*. We collectively flap our hands and hyper-ventilate as we contemplate the idea of not being able to drive.
The newsbots have been raising the alarm about this for weeks, and now the city of LA has resorted to the awesome power of faded television stars to try to calm the masses:
Said masses obstinately refuse to be calm and now hysterical panic is sweeping the city.
Many people are planning, like rats fleeing a sinking ship, to leave town.
“Yeah, we’re just going to drive up the coast Friday, get a hotel for the weekend and just chill out.”
“Wait. You’re driving to a hotel where you’re just going to sit around all weekend? Why not just stay home?”
“Stay home? What if we have to drive somewhere?”
And so it goes.
Unfortunately for me, I now live west of the 405, and some surface streets in my neighborhood will be closed, making any sort of vehicular egress on my part impossible.
I won’t be able to make the union meeting (on the other side of town, of course) on Saturday or to the three parties downtown, so I plan to do my commuting to the beach on my bicycle.
And take photos of what will be either hilarious chaos or eerily empty streets.
*The surface street alternative to the 405 is Sepulveda Blvd, which will not be closed, but might as well be, since no one has any illusions about traffic moving at anything faster than a painfully slow crawl.