Recently, I’ve made a few trips up to Los Angeles to meet with clients and prospects and do some Beaming Bohemian business. You may remember that I lived in L.A. for five years before I moved to Japan in July of 2002. As apprehensive as I was at the time to move from Santa Barbara to Los Angeles, those five years provided excellent career opportunities and cemented numerous friendship and business contacts that have remained even during my eight years overseas.
The downtown revitalization had just begun when I left in 2002. At that time, many folks still drove downtown to work, and went home to the Westside. The reverse is true now. It is difficult to travel East in the evening and West in the morning. Heck, it’s tougher to travel anywhere at anytime, the housing boom even affected my little neighborhood where side streets like Ohio and Sawtelle are no-go’s by 5pm. L.A. traffic has always been, but seems even more nuts than I ever remember.
Even with L.A. drivers being more rude than San Diegans, for example, there are some disturbing trends that would really give me pause if I ever needed to move back there.
1. No one behind you for miles and you get cut off… pulls out in front of you or on the freeway or where ever. The space in front of you is just way more enticing than all the free space behind you. So much so that some folks even speed up to cut you off.
2. The folks that speed up to cut you off when you have miles of free space behind you have a tendency to do so right before an intersection where they slam on their brakes to turn right.
3. At a stop sign when you are angled to turn right, a car will pull up on your left, in what seems an effort to turn left. But the driver decides they don’t trust your judgement, nor do they want to wait for you and they turn right around and in front of you.
4. Also at a stop sign, and it seems particularly popular during the evening hours, the person behind you will pull up to the right of you and go through the intersection ahead of you instead of turn right.
5. There still seems to be no concern for crossing over five lanes on the freeway to narrowly make an exit that you know the driver takes probably everyday.
6. If a driver is in the wrong lane, it doesn’t matter where anyone else is, how it affects everyone else or how dangerous the maneuver is… it is clearly impossible to just go in the direction of traffic, out of the way for a block or so, make a u-turn somewhere and get back on track. I saw a guy in the left-hand turn lane on Overland and Pico who decided that he needed to turn right on Pico instead and bolted across the traffic at the green light so that he could go the direction he wanted.
7. The second the light turns green, everyone celebrates by honking.
8. If you do not have a green arrow to turn left, it is still expected that you will turn into oncoming traffic to make your turn. At least that’s what all the honking in the back screams. Nevermind it’s not clear, just GO!
9. If you are forced to park on the street and unlucky enough to not be able to put your front or rear bumper right up to a driveway, you will find that the kind people who have also parked on the street have made it impossible for you to move even an inch.
10. Even when the traffic is not heavy on the freeway, it seems that the general rule is to drive rightnext to the person in the next lane. Match their speed and leave no room for error.
Ten is probably enough. Truth be told, I never use my horn expect when I am in L.A. It is frustrating, it is stressful, and it makes me glad that I live in San Diego.
What L.A. driving habits have you seen develop over the last several years? Do they bother you or do you just let it roll off your shoulders?