Sunday, January 22, 2012

Traffic sucks

I thought living in Atlanta and working in my car during rush hour was bad enough, but then I moved to Los Angeles.  Well, not exactly Los Angeles quite yet.  I’m staying in Yorba Linda with my very generous aunt and uncle while trying to figure out my life in the city.  This means that I have made the forty-ish mile drive into the city every day this week.  At best, I make it there in just over and hour.  At worst, it takes close to two hours.  This isn’t due to bad luck with red lights, slow speed limits, or low tire pressure, it’s simply due to the fact that there are too many fucking cars on the road.

Traffic jams are generally caused by three things; accidents, road work, or that there are too many fucking cars on the road.  There’s nothing more frustrating than sitting in traffic for a half hour, only to start moving faster for seemingly no reason.  After having a lot of time to think about it, I finally figured out why this happens:  Everyone is self-centered. 

That’s basically it.  When the cars in front of you start going fifteen miles an hour, you may only go twelve miles an hour because you know you’ll have to stop soon and there’s no rush to stop again, screw the people behind you.  Likewise with braking.  If you’re at a full stop and the car in front of you starts moving, you may not move for two to five seconds.  Multiply this by the amount of vehicles within a mile (average length of a car is 13.517 feet, excluding buses/garbage trucks/semis.  This would make the average amount of vehicles in a mile to be 5,280/13.517=390.619) and you’ve got 13–32.5 minutes of delay every mile.  Stretch that out along a few miles and you’ve got a lot of time to talk on your phone.  But you can’t talk on your phone in your car without a Bluetooth thing so that means I either have to break the law or talk to myself about how much I wish I drove a monster truck.

I saw a video today that illustrates this on a smaller scale.

The video pretty much lays out the main reason it sucks to live in a big city:  Too many people = Unavoidable delays.  That’s just how it works.  One person could tap their brakes in front of a large line of cars and it would create a traffic jam.  Kind of a Butterfly Effect idea but instead of a hurricane, it creates a wave of road rage.

This non-reason reason for traffic jams leads to a strange thing I have experienced over the past week:  Excitement over car accidents.  It’s a peculiar thing to root for.  But it’s not in the The Running Man sense of rooting for destruction.  There’s a strange excitement that comes over you after you’ve been driving 5 mph for twenty minutes and then all of a sudden you come around a corner and see the road flares on the shoulder, police lights whipping around, and a tow truck in front of a smashed car.  You know as soon as you pass the carnage that you’ll be able to speed up to fifty mph for at least a couple minutes, which is like coming up for a breath after diving for an oyster shell while snorkeling.  There’s a small amount of guilt that comes along with rooting for a car accident, but at the same time, traffic would have been running smoothly the whole time if the person hadn’t crashed.  Sure, accidents are called “accidents” for a reason, but sometimes a person is just an idiot and crashes for no good reason.  And these people fully deserve to be heckled when we come upon them on the side of the road with their front fender smashed in.

Another strange thing I’ve seen in traffic jams is the way motorcycles don’t seem to give a shit about anything.  You’ll be sitting in your car with your foot firmly on the brake pedal, and all of a sudden what sounds like a chainsaw will be directly next to your window as a motorcycle rides the lines that divide the lanes, weaving between cars and basically giving all of us with four wheels the finger. 

“Oh, you cocksuckers can’t fit here?  Too bad.  I’m outta here.” 

This practice is obviously very dangerous, as any small miscalculation could send the rider flying into the side of a car, and illegal.  But what is a cop going to do?  There’s no way a cop car could chase the motorcyclist, and I doubt a cop on a motorcycle could fit in the narrow slot between lanes.  There’s nothing stopping these guys except for their fear of disfigurement, which obviously doesn’t exist.  But good for them.  I watch these people fly past my car and I’m filled with nothing but admiration.  Every once in a while it’s nice to watch a means of transportation do what it’s supposed to do:  Get you somewhere.  That’s a very easy thing to forget while sitting on I-5 at seven o’clock and hoping an earthquake doesn’t take out the bridge supporting you as well as thirty other cars.

If all goes right, I’ll be living within city limits by the end of the week and I won’t have to deal with the freeways anymore.  An inside source said that the best way to get around Los Angeles is to stick to city roads and avoid the freeways at all costs.  I thought about taking this advice on Friday as I drove into the city for an interview.  However, after seeing the route my GPS gave me, I decided I’d stick it out on the freeway until I learned a little more about the city.  I don’t need to be driving through the streets South Central with a GPS on my dashboard and Wisconsin plates on my car.  Something tells me that wouldn’t be the best idea.

1 comment:

  1. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed your writing and laughed a few times, but lanesplitting (motorcycles riding in between cars) is completely legal in California (but illegal in all other 49 states), so they're really not breaking the law.