If you live anywhere near the Los Angeles area, I'm sure almost all you hear about these days is "Carmageddon", the name given by the press (I'm sure some Bakelite-pompodoured local "journalist" is proudly patting himself on the back for coming up with that one, who cares if it has been the title of a video game since 1997), because they have to assign some stupid name to anything that even remotely resembles a news story, and refers to the fact that this coming weekend a ten-mile stretch of the 405 freeway is going to be closed for the weekend starting Friday night, reopening in time for the Monday morning rush hour.
To hear people talk you would think they were being tossed in a Mexican prison for the weekend. "Oh my, what are we going to do?" "I can't believe they are doing this to us!" "Think about the children!"
Just who is saying these things? Probably the same folks who for years have been saying "They need to do something about that 405 freeway! It's terrible!"
The reason for the closure? To make it wider. I am not sure how people expect them to make it wider without having to close it at least for a short time, particularly since making it wider involves tearing down the Mulholland bridge which crosses the freeway.
People are so used to being treated like privileged citizens with their smoke belching crapmobiles that the news of having part of the freeway closed leaves them scratching their heads, "Duuh, since thar ain't no other ways to get about besides the auto-mo-bile, what is we-uns to do?"
Sure, some people will have to figure something out. Such as health care professionals who are counted on to be at work on the weekend. I've already read that hospitals are renting rooms for the staff whom have to travel from one side of the hill to the other. That doesn't sound so difficult now, does it?
For those that are worried about such things as "Oh, my God! How am I going to get to the golf course?" Well, I guess you're on your own.
Sure, chances are traffic will be pretty bad on a lot of surface streets, mostly because a lot of people will refuse to give up what they perceive to be their God-given right to drive their car wherever and whenever they damn please.
Many refuse to take public transportation around here and consider it "beneath" them. I take it fairly often and it gets me where I need to go. I have heard reports that the MTA is going to waive the fare on those couple days. We'll see if that will actually coax people to try it. Of course there will be those who will try public transportation without doing any research first and slow things down by playing 20 questions with the driver. "Where does this bus go?" "How much does it cost?" "How do I get to such-and-such?" "How much for the first-class section?" "How long does it take?" I see this fairly often anyway, so I would expect an increase in this type of behavior considering there will probably be a fair amount of bus newbies.
It's practically all everyone is talking about at the ol' water cooler. Of course it is a welcome relief from "Did you see "Idol" last night?
I expect my bike ride home on Friday to be a bit more treacherous than usual, but I will just exercise extra caution.
Maybe people should just explore their own neighborhoods instead of automatically jumping in the car for no reason.
Do I think this situation will get more people to ride their bikes those days? Probably not, and if there were a lot of people riding that usually don't, I suppose that could be a hazard in itself.
But the thing that scares me the most: if there is this much panic and chaos when people are given a month and a half advance notice of the closure, when the time comes that we are faced with a natural disaster, lord help us all.