Monday, August 1, 2011
Just as summer semester was ending for me, there was a media frenzy in Southern California about a scheduled 53 hour closing of the I-405 freeway. The closure earned the nickname "Carmaggedon" and, like so many media-hyped doomsday-type events, it turned out to be much ado about not much.
For the record, traffic fell to 65 percent below its usual volume on LA’s freeways as many people wisely passed a summer weekend close to home or took advantage of the free transit available in many parts of the city, and the road itself opened 17 hours early. The only remarkable story was the one where a handful of cyclists and transit users raced the JetBlue passengers across the city. The riders of bikes and subway trains won handily, reaching the finish line before the Burbank-to-Long-Beach flight had even touched down and setting the intertubes all a-Twitter with their apocalypse-defying exploits.
There are lots of potential take-aways from this non-event, from the obvious benefits of relying less on our cars to the potential fun in pitting bikes against planes in all kinds of races. It seems as if, hype aside, good planning and an effective public education campaign helped avert a lot of traffic-related suffering. It's good to remember the benefits of cooperation, given the news coming out of Washington lately...Maybe we should let traffic engineers solve the budget crisis.
Jamie Baker Roskie
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