Posted by SBinLA on:
Number 2: The Traffic
I have a childhood memory of an evening drive down to Los Angeles from Santa Barbara. Encountering the wide highways thick with cars, the red of their tail-lights stretching into the distance, I imagined that rather than automobile traffic, it was a flowing river of boiling lava in front of me. Or perhaps a writhing red serpant, slithering over the undulating road. In that nostalgic rememberance, the LA traffic has the quality of a painting, capturing its essential beautiful quality. In the present day, of course, the reality is somewhat different. The truth is that traffic is an almost unescapable reality of living in any part of LA. While Pasadena is no exception, I find it offers a modicum of relief from a life of gridelock, as I will return to later.
The madness that is the LA freeways was on display earlier this week, when a wrongway driver collided with another car.
The tragedy of lost life in this incident is unfortunately an all too common experience in this metropolis. Certainly overshadowed in this case, is the fact that thousands upon thousands of people were delayed, their cars idling impatiently, the precious fossil fuels in their tanks uselessly burning away.
Living in the greater Los Angeles area is an exercise in leaving early - if you want to ultimately arrive on time, that is. However, if you are late (because of traffic or otherwise) you can take care in knowing that highway congestion is a perfectly legitimate excuse for arriving at almost any hour. The reason for this is three fold: 1) though traffic is somewhat predicable, sometimes it is just BAD; 2) there is no predicing when the sadistic road orcs will decide to close a lane, on-ramp or overpass, snarling a freeway exchange like the dreadlocks of a rastafarian; and 3) when millions of people feverishly take to the road, charging towards their destinations at 80+ mph, accidents happen.
A must-bookmark site for LA traffic is: sigalert.com
Pasadena of course, offers a slightly better situation. Since it is an older and more affluent neibhorhood, the lots are larger and the population density less. This results in fewer cars and fewer jams. Getting to downtown LA via the 110 freeway is rarely a problem and there are many sidestreet routes. Rush hour is more bearable and during off hours the roads are wide open.
I may as well address getting to Pasadena. The so-called (by me) "backdoor" offers the best SB-Pasadena route. It is only marginally longer, but typically has only a few brief pockets of traffic, compared to what is usually a heavy drive on the 101. Of course, there will always be unexpected deviations from the normal trends.
a google maps route is at: http://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&source=s_d&saddr=Santa+Barbara,+CA&daddr=34.395579,-118.605652+to:pasadena,+ca&hl=en&geocode=&mra=dpe&mrcr=0&mrsp=1&sz=9&via=1&sll=34.252676,-118.918762&sspn=1.772983,2.224731&ie=UTF8&z=9
I would recommend this route at almost ANY TIME of almost ANY DAY. Exceptions include Thanksgiving, Christmas,11pm-5am M-Th. Other than that, you're better off taking the backdoor.
Final result: Yes, the traffic sucks. It is an unavoidable reality that even in Pasadena, the most Santa Barbara-like place I could find, one starts to plan your life around the movement of 10 million people in their frickin' cars.
So after number 2, its Pasadena 1; Expectations 1
Look out for more "Reasons I Though I'd Hate L.A." coming soon.
---> As a Santa Barbarian, are you a L.A. hater? or an aficionado? Tell me your assumptions about the big city to the South (negative or positive) and I'll dedicate a post to it.