On Friday, “Carmageddon” will rain down upon Los Angeles drivers like flaming globes of fiery terror leading to human sacrifice, cats and dogs living together — mass hysteria!!
Ok, so maybe Carmageddon isn’t going to bring apocalyptic wrath and destruction or co-harmony amongst pets. But when a 10-mile stretch of the 405 freeway (that’s Interstate 405 to the rest of the country) is shut down for 53 hours this weekend, there will surely be a large annoyance.
On a normal summer weekend, the 10-mile stretch being shut down connects the western portion of Los Angeles and sees around 500,000 cars. One of the busiest stretches of freeway in the world, I-405 transports 330,000 vehicles per weekday, but will not accommodate any this weekend as a full shutdown has been deemed necessary while the 50-year old Mulholland Drive Bridge is replaced.
The construction is part of a $1 billion widening project that will add a carpool lane to the traffic-laden Sepulveda Pass. While the end product may alleviate future traffic (hopefully!), this weekend promises to be one of tremendous angst for Los Angeles’ west-side residents and anyone passing through.
To help calm the frightfulness, we have some alternate transportation modes to help those poor Los Angeles souls avoid their cars, beat the traffic and get to their destination without going crazy due to road rage:
(These are also great alternatives for drivers in other cities that want to avoid traffic and/or high gas prices.)
Rather than driving around the 405 freeway mess, why not fly over it? With three major airports and a handful of small airports within seven miles of I-405, it could be done easily. JetBlue even offered $4 flights from Burbank to Long Beach that would enable a passenger to skip right over the mess and still be able to enjoy the Valley or beach or the LA Street Food Fest in Pasadena. Too bad those $4 flights sold out in about three hours.
When it comes to two-wheeled performance, motorcycles are at the top. Combining the power of a car with the mobility and maneuverability of a scooter or bicycle, motorcycles are the supreme weapon for a backed up traffic jam on the freeway in California because lane splitting, when a two-wheeled vehicle moves between two lanes passing slowed or stopped cars, is legal. Just be careful. You never know when someone is going to change lanes without warning, thinking moving one car forward in traffic is going to significantly speed up his/her travel time.
Straight old school. Riding the rails used to be the No. 1 means of quick transportation. Though they are no longer the transportation go-to they once were, trains are a great alternative when you know traffic is going to be bad. Trains aren’t subject to a traffic jam. There are no unexpected stops without there being a drastic emergency. They are nice and steady clockwork.
It might take a little more effort and a little bit longer to reach your destination, but bicycles have been a mainstay in large cities for the better part of the last 200 years. Easily maneuverable and able to go on- and off-road make bikes the ultimate utility vehicle. As baseball fan Darren O’Donnell is showing this summer, bicycles can always get to a destination no matter the conditions, which is why they have been used as couriers in business districts of cities for years.
In my rich fantasies, I have a helipad in the backyard and after Arnold Scwarzenegger screams “Get to the Choppa!!” I hop in my helicopter to get me to and from my destinations. That would be great this weekend because then you could fly over all the areas that are going to be bogged down (if not gridlocked) and laugh at all the feeble drivers in their cars. Evidently, Adventure Helicopter Tours thought the same thing and that it would make a great date. They are offering a 45-minute couples tour that will do exactly that.
Easy to ride, easy to drive and relatively cheap. Scooters are a great way to get around when you want to get out and see a city but don’t want to be bothered by traffic. It’s the same reason why they are so popular to rent in tourist cities. And having rented a scooter before, I can say they are a great weekend value.
Humans were given two legs for a reason. Unless it is multiple miles away…just walk it. Not only will you get to enjoy the sunshine for once, but you will also get some extra exercise (and who among us couldn’t use that?). Heck, if you want to spice it up, pull out those old rollerblades/skates that are stuffed away in the closet or hire a large dude to carry you around on his back.