Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Carmageddon Wrap



Thankfully, Carmageddon turned into Car2K -- although folks already fear next year's sequel, when motorists may ignore the warnings and hit the freeways. But that's next year (which I've already dubbed "Breakin' the 405 2: Carlectric Boogaloo").

For now, some takeaways from the weekend. The Los Angeles Times asks if Carmageddon's less congested roads can be :

The success of Carmageddon has given way to a political and lifestyle question: If L.A. residents can cut their driving for one weekend, how can they be encouraged to drive less the rest of the time?

...

"You can suddenly hear people talking. You hear kids playing," said L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky. "People discovered something about themselves and Los Angeles auto culture that shocked them. Why can't we take some chunk of L.A. and shut it down to traffic on certain days or weekends, as they do in Italy?"

Some mass-transportation advocates went further, saying that Carmageddon showed the need for less freeway expansion — like the $1-billion project that closed the 405 — and for more investment in rail and bus service.
Over at KCET, D.J. Waldie is a bit more realistic:

We may have immunized ourselves too well, in the opinion of some emergency planners. We're already being warned to be afraid of not being afraid enough of Carmageddon 2, when the other side of the overpass comes down next year.

Saturday also seemed to have a message that life would be better if a kind of permanent Carmageddon were possible, and every day would be like Saturday. Advocates of a less driven L.A. may point to Carmageddon as a model of the future city, where auto-dependent residents cheerfully bike, walk, and take the bus to work because they know what's good for them.

Unfortunately, most drivers tend to believe that someone else - anyone else - should take the bus, ride a bike, stay at home, and accept diminished mobility. Not them, but you. (Or as actor Neil Patrick Harris tweeted in illustration of the effect: "I love having the 405 freeway closed. Traffic is nonexistent. Carmageddon is the best! I'm gonna Carma-get-in my car and run some errands."
OK, that NPH tweet is pretty funny.

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