Thursday, March 29, 2018

In Los Angeles, Part II: Traffic

Evidently, if you’ve done enough driving in your life, you can forego the pleasure for many years and yet safely take up the practice again at will. I rented a car in Los Angeles the day after arriving, and before taking the wheel it had been three years since I had touched one, a steering wheel, that is. I am happy to report that as soon as the car starts to move, it’s as though you have been driving all of that time on a daily basis. 

Street scene on Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills.

I have friends in Los Angeles that I correspond with, and they love to complain about how terrible the traffic has become. They complain specifically about recent developments, like bike lanes. They complain about the huge volume of cars, as though it were a sudden phenomenon. I can now report that it is indeed terrible, and that trying to get around town does take more time than one remembers. But honestly, I didn’t perceive it as being much different from anything that has gone before.

There was perhaps more road work in evidence, and that does slow things down. But the differences in the volume of traffic, and the increase in the time that it takes to get anywhere, have been INCREMENTAL. There hasn’t been any sudden jump in the difficulties. I got to Los Angeles in the mid-1970s, and I can tell you that it has gotten worse every single year since then.

I’m sure that people who lived in L.A. before me had the same experience, probably since the advent of the automobile. In the late 1970s, you could drive anywhere and park pretty much out front, on the street, which seems like a lost dream of paradise by now. Parking was free, or almost free. Outside of rush hour it was all free sailing. Those days are long gone. 

Lincoln Boulevard, showing the old Fox Venice Theater, which was a great re-run house showing great films from all periods and genres. It is now a carpet store of some kind.

My advice to those who must deal with this new situation is to enjoy it while you can. It will only get worse. Look for the good! 

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