You don’t have to be a child of the 1980s to know The Missing Persons’ new wave hit, Walking in LA. The sentiment was sung loud and clear: “Only a nobody walks in LA” While things have changed since then — We have a metro system! Downtown Los Angeles has been gentrified! Walking is faster than driving! — Angelenos are still revved up from headlights to tailpipe.
We are a die-hard car culture and that’s not going to change anytime soon. Whether you settle on a gigantic GMC Yukon or a small Smart Car, you’re going to need wheels to fit in and get around.
Since it’s best to get the worst news first, here are 5 bad things you can expect from driving in LA.
5. Merging is Misery
Discourteous drivers refuse to let you easily blend onto the freeway from the on-ramp – one car in front of them equals one more minute in traffic, and those add up.
4. Pokey Pedestrians
Nobody’s in a hurry moving through the crosswalks. The “I’m crossing the street” real-time Facebook status update is way more important than motorists wanting to turn right.
3. A Deluge of Distracted Drivers
Whether they’re texting, putting on makeup, listening to the Waze lady’s delayed directions, or simply spaced out, LA motorists are the most absent-minded. Drive defensively!
2. Red-Light Running is Rampant
Especially at left turns on busy boulevards, because one has to wait so long (often through two or three light-changes) to finally get to the intersection, they’ll be damned if they have to miss an opportunity to zip through. When your light turns green, look both ways before stepping on the gas.
1. You will be stuck in Traffic…
According to a study conducted by TomTom, Angelinos spend an annual average of 90 hours bumper-to-bumper. That puts us just ahead of San Francisco and Seattle, whose drivers are stuck “only” 83 hours per year – at least it’s not rainy here.
Don’t worry. It’s not all gloom, doom and gridlock. There are some sweet things about cruising through LA. Here are my top five faves:
5. Audiobooks and Podcasts
While you’re in traffic, at least you can catch up on your reading and learn a thing or two. Where else are you going to find the time?
4. Actual Facetime with your Friends
Since driving (and the dreaded, inevitable parking) to and from events is such a nightmare, carpooling is de rigueur for parties of two or more headed to the same place.
3. Plenty of Parking…
If you’re going to The Valley. West LA, Hollywood, WeHo and Beverly Hills dwellers can (and do) suck it, but if you live in Sherman Oaks, Studio City, Toluca Lake and thereabouts, you’re bound to find a parking lot at the shops and restaurants. And on the side streets you’ll find a space with your name on it, meter-free, and no permit required.
2. Vehicular Variety
I’m an avid admirer of haute hotrods, and I’m always delighted when I spot a real beauty. From the vintage car collectors (it’s not unusual to see a Model-T, a Woody, or a classic Corvette on the road) to the wealthy showoffs (the valets are often driving off in Mclarens, BMW i8s, and Vipers) – the streets of LA are a never-ending parade of marvelous motorcars.
1. Terrific Tours
There’s no place like LA when it comes to assortment from behind the wheel. In the course of one day (a lucky traffic-light day, of course…) – you can drive from the breezy beach, to the sizzling desert, to the snowy mountains and top it all off in the big city.
So there you have it – the good, the bad and the… well, never mind the last. Ugly is not allowed in LA.