Thursday, February 2, 2012
My commute is only ten miles long. The first six miles is on a winding, two-lane canyon road; the remaining drive is on busy Pacific Coast Highway, where the posted speed limit is 55 mph.
Yet this morning it took fifty minutes.
The hang-up is usually in the Canyon, which can be treacherous, especially in bad weather, and where an accident can turn a two-lane road into a stand-still until the Highway Patrol arrives. But most of the time,the problem is at the traffic light at the terminus of the road, where it meets PCH. Due to poor timing or just vehicular volume, the long chain of cars backs up the canyon for miles, moving incrementally between five-minute halts.
And so we sit, listening to the morning drive radio, looking up at the canyon walls, and enjoying the native vegetation and birdsong, watching the digital numbers tick by on the dashboard clock.
On a good day, I can sit at my desk twenty-five minutes after I leave my house. But on a bad day, it can take up to 90 minutes. I usually leave at 8:15 - leaving myself 45 minutes.
You may ask - Why don't I leave the house earlier?
I don't know. I think maybe I'm in denial. I simply can't accept that a ten-mile commute should take an hour or more.
I think many of us in Los Angeles are in denial - Traffic in Los Angeles is a constant presence. Folks avidly debate travel time and routes and how to avoid a hang-up. Running late for meetings, dinner reservations, and other appointments are - usually - accepted with understanding. Unlike in other cities, being hung up in traffic seems to be the guilt-free excuse.
What's traffic like where you live?