"A wise and frugal government which shall restrain men
from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government."
(Thomas Jefferson)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Los Angles downshifts, and the driving is easy

We lived in the foothills in Southern California during the 1984 Olympics.  You could drive wherever you wanted in the area without gridlock.  What was missing -- trucks on the road for one thing -- they had to do their driving at night., people carpooled and others took vacation during the Olympics which all equated to no gridlock so it can be done.  It was a fantastic time to live in Southern California.

Took my kids to see Sam the Eagle (best mascot ever) and the torch on its final approach to the LA Coliseum as it traveled through the Southern California counties.  My kids loved Sam the Eagle as he stopped to shake hands with them.  They had their own little stuffed versions with them.  It was a great Olympics as Los Angeles did a terrific job of rolling out the Welcome for people from around the world along with having  no gridlock.

Enjoy reading about the non-event that has hit Los Angeles this weekend after all sorts of doom and gloom about gridlock, overheating cars, etc.  Once again the people of Southern California came through which is another reason they should be their own separate state away from the very liberal northern California.
L.A. downshifts, and the driving is easyMotorists largely heed the warnings about 'Carmageddon' and stay off the freeways and roads officials feared could be gridlocked. A race between cyclists and a jetliner adds some drama. 
Demolition of the Mulholland Drive bridge continues into the early morning hours Sunday. (Mariah Tauger, Los Angeles Times / July 16, 2011)

For all the doomsday warnings about "Carmageddon," the first day largely came down to one question: Could a group of bicycle riders beat a plane across Los Angeles?

Life without the 405 Freeway to connect the San Fernando Valley and Westside was remarkable only for what didn't happen. The canyons of the Hollywood Hills did not become giant parking lots. Hospitals did not go unstaffed. Stranded motorists did not abandon their cars and stagger down the freeways in search of food and water.

But although gridlock never materialized, something unexpected did: Los Angeles' car culture took a day off. Many people simply stayed home. Flying down open freeways was reminiscent of the traffic-free days during the 1984 Olympics.

PHOTOS: 'Carmageddon' closes the 405 Freeway

The free-flowing traffic was proof, officials said, that their warnings had worked.

In a California Department of Transportation "nerve center," a giant electronic road map of Los Angeles glowed green all day. "Saturday light," as Mike Miles, a Caltrans executive, called it.

Carmageddon could turn out to be the biggest non-event since Y2K.

Not that the day lacked drama. In the great tradition of the land of reality television, Los Angeles created its own.

First came a clever marketing ploy from JetBlue Airways: $4 flights Saturday between Burbank and Long Beach airports.

A flurry of Twitter activity ensued, followed by tough talk from the Wolfpack Hustle, a local cycling club, that six of its best riders could beat the 150-seat Airbus A320 — including drive time to and from the airports, check-in and security screening.

In the end, the cyclists crushed it, cruising along the Los Angeles River to reach the final destination, the lighthouse in Shoreline Aquatic Park, in 1 hour and 34 minutes.

The plane had barely taken off. Cyclist Joe Anthony, on board as part of the challenge, said there was only one advantage to the airliner.

"It's legal to drink beer and fly, whereas the cyclists have to follow all the rules," he said.

Most passengers flew purely for the novelty. Alfred Pierfax, who was heading straight back to Burbank on the next plane, said he was unimpressed by Carmageddon.

"I'm going to call it 'Carmadud,' " he said.

Still, it was a rare day in Los Angeles.

Even the much anticipated soccer game between the L.A. Galaxy and Real Madrid wasn't creating traffic woes as fans arrived at the Coliseum on Saturday afternoon — and found themselves with time to kill.

"Not once did we drive under 60 on the way here," said Vatche Marganian, who came from Orange County using the 91 and 110 freeways.

Michele Cohn, who was perusing a garage sale in Santa Monica, said she felt like she was living in a small town for the day. "Its amazing; I love it. I wish it were like this all the time."

Excerpt:  Read more about the non-happening at LA Times

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