A good friend of mine is coming to visit from the east coast, land of turnpikes and potholes big enough to swallow a compact car. I am posting this guide to my personal rules about getting anywhere in our fair city to bring her up (heh) to speed as well as to warn all you other potential visitors that driving around can be everything the tabloids promise and more.
- Avoid rush hour. This means travel into the city only between 9:30 and 11:00 a.m. and out of the city either between 1:30 and 3:00 p.m. or 7:30 p.m. onwards — the later the better. Ignore this basic rule and you drastically increase your chances of being caught in traffic.
- Avoid the 405 at all costs. Entire families have been known to go missing between the airport and the 101.
- Traffic is lightest on Mondays and heaviest on Fridays, getting monotonically worse as the week goes on. Weekends are generally okay, unless there’s a sports event or a holiday. Never ever be caught in the region of USC when there’s a soccer match with Mexico.
- Sigalert.com is a fairly reliable (although not foolproof) way to gauge traffic conditions.
- If there’s any kind of inclement weather (out here this translates to drizzle or a medium fog) drive with utmost caution. Lord help us if it ever snows.
- Surface streets can sometimes get you there faster than the freeways. But this takes practise and a willingness to drive aggressively.
- Google driving directions don’t always make sense.
- Down here your turn signal means that the person in your target lane is expected to accelerate and pass you rather than get off the gas and let you in.
- Stay hydrated. People are calmer this way.
- Plan to get stuck at least some of the time. This is L.A., after all.
Featured image via Sigalert.com