Los Angeles is all about the car. And if you ever come to visit, the first thing you’ll notice is that everyone in the entire city seems to be in one at the exact same time, at any given moment, on whatever road or freeway you happen to be on.
“Stuck in traffic, again? At 11 AM on a Sunday? Must be citywide brunch time again…”
But that may be coming to an end. In order to combat the apocalyptic level—like, the asteroid is coming for us and Bruce Willis has failed get out now style—of daily gridlock, LA City Hall has just voted into effect LA Mobility Plan 2035. The plan calls for the modernization of major roadways by adding hundreds of miles of bike lanes, bus only lanes, and by greatly expanding the city’s growing mass transit network including its subway and light rail lines. Opponents of the plan are quick to point out, through frothy gasoline soaked rage, that this will often come at the expense of car lanes, and existing drivable real estate which will make driving even more of a nightmare.
Some folks who are paid to look into this sort of thing have calmly pointed out that perhaps these LA residents have the wrong mentality. That it may be unreasonable to live in a major city (The 2nd most major behind only NYC), and to expect the silky, easy traffic flow of the suburbs. Driving in the city sucks. That’s what happens when you throw tens of millions of people together. It’s why people who live in Queens don’t try to commute to work in Upper Manhattan in their SUVs. Except in LA people don’t have many other alternatives, which is what Mobility Plan 2035 is all about. There’s also the little matter of the fact that building more roads is scientifically proven to only make congestion worse. So embrace the winds of change, Angelenos! Your cars are going the way of the dodo. Yes, even your pretentious little hybrids. But don’t worry, it’s not all bad. Giving up your motorbox comes with some excellent benefits!
3) You’ll Die Much Less
Driving’s pretty dangerous, eh? But you knew that. You see it on the freeway everyday. Right when you’re driving home after a long day at the office, and the congestion seems to let up for a glorious second right before it ends in abrupt gridlock. You know what happened. Some jerk just died again. Right when they were driving. And now you’re going to be late for Tipsy Tuesday Bar Night Trivia Night. Again.
“Sorry I’m late again, guys. I don’t know why people can’t just die in bed or in the trenches like the good old days.”
Driving is a super risky affair. In the US it killed 32,719 in 2013. That’s 10.35 deaths for every 100,000 people. If you take the population of LA into account and do some hard math that we, as a team of writers, are in no way qualified or encouraged to do, that means 406.65 people die on the sun soaked Los Angeles roads every single year. After some quick division and ratios that we’re mostly making up, based on your odds of vehicular death over a three year period of living in LA, you will be killed by cars no less than four times, and probably have been at least twice already. So stop driving around your murder machine, and you’ll stop dying all the time.
2) You’ll Get to Experience the Famous LA Air
Open air. That’s something you can’t get in your car. Well you could if you turned the AC off, and cranked the windows down, but what are you crazy? This is Southern California in September, which means it’s roughly infinity billion degrees outside. Your box of glass, metal, and maybe even leather (if you’re some sort of Hollywood big shot) isn’t conducive to such things. But once you get out and do some walk abouts, you’ll see that it’s not that bad. Well okay, it is absolutely that bad, but at least you’ll get to breathe in some fresh air before you ruin your clothes with sweat stains and your shoes begin to melt.
Los Angeles is world famous for its air quality! Breathe it in and breathe deep. Though it stands to be said that the “fame” referred to here may not be indicative of positive attributes. “Infamous” might technically be the better word due to the negative associations. Okay, fine. Breathe in deep that infamous LA air! Los Angeles has some of the most polluted and hazardous air in the country, and there are plenty of studies to support that. But consider this: there aren’t any studies that say you won’t get super powers if you expose yourself to large doses of it! Perhaps during leisurely walkabouts. “Smog Man” has a decent ring to it if you say it enough times with bold, unyielding confidence.
Oh, and you know what improves air quality? Not driving. This is one of the other side benefits of not sitting in traffic, soiling the air around you while you secretly check Instagram. Do your part, Angelinos and Angelinas.
1) You’ll Experience the Glorious Sophistication of Mass Transit
If you’ve ever watched a New York based comedy or listened to a stand-up act about life in the Big Apple, you’ve no doubt heard some material about the New York City subway system. It’s possible that these stories centered around tales of crazy people, harrowing encounters, and more than a few unpleasant smells. It would be fair to assume then that the LA subway system, the Metro Rail, offers a comparable experience. The truth is that life on the underground may not be the displeasing journey that the funnymen will have you believe. Those trains could have self service martini bars and be primarily traveled by only the most respectable and tuxedo-ed of commuters, for all you know.
“Where are you guys getting off? Vermont-Sunset? So good to be on the train and below all the riffraff”
Rumors of free wifi, massage chairs, and entire sushi cars have occasionally broken through the tunnels of these hallowed train station to reach the squalor that is our life on the surface. And as the squinty faced, sunburned, grass feeling surface dwellers that we are, we remain completely ignorant of the subway’s boundless pleasures. Like suckers.
Probably. But you’ll never know unless you get out of your car and go figure it out for yourself.