Life in traffic

L.A. Traffic
Photo by Flickr’s rainsongz

The L.A. Times had a cool feature on the horrific traffic here — they decided to take a snapshot of the cars gridlocked along the 10 and 110 freeways on one Friday morning, then track down each of the drivers whose license plates were visible in the picture.

This is a snapshot of the humanity moving through one swath of overused asphalt in the City of Angels at exactly 7:30 on a drizzly Friday morning. It’s a transient village of chrome and steel, anxiety and resignation and grudging choices. It’s about to dissolve, this configuration of souls that will never reproduce itself in just this way again. When the minute ends, everyone remains strangers. It’s now 7:31 a.m., and in the drizzle, in the shadow of downtown’s skyscrapers, another neighborhood is forming.

If you live in L.A., then you already know what the article says, from personal experience — traffic sucks, you can’t seem to avoid it, and you’ll do anything to distract yourself from it. But there are also some neat interactive features, like a Google map of commuting times for each city (Agoura Hills is pinned red, but I don’t find it to be that bad), a time-lapse video of traffic from various L.A. sites and a cool flash map that shows you where traffic is worse at different times of the day. From that map, it seems Santa Ana, Corona and Moreno Valley suck the most in the morning, while those same cities, with Riverside and Irvine, are worse in the evening hours. Thank God Trin and I didn’t end up in the IE or OC.

I am very lucky in that my commute is reasonable, thanks to my night shift — I usually make it to work within a half hour, without much traffic — and when I do hit snarls on the 101, they’re usually on Fridays and they tend to be right after the 405. What would drive me most batty would be going home in traffic every day — which I don’t, since I usually cruise home within 25 minutes at 11 p.m. or 12 a.m. I don’t know how all you 9-to-5ers do it.

However, even before I started working, I was well versed in the nuances of L.A. traffic. Growing up, my father’s office was in L.A., along Vermont near Pico, and we lived in Hacienda Heights. I got to know real well that if you plan to leave L.A. in the afternoon, you’re pretty much screwed if you don’t leave by 2 o’clock.

As for coping when I do hit heavy traffic, I do like the people did in the LAT story — clip on my Bluetooth ear piece to make phone calls or listen to my favorite CDs cycle through my changer. What else can you do? Get mad?

I mean, we do get to live in L.A., after all.