Is Traffic in LA Easing Up?


Perhaps I am hallucinating, but there seems to be less traffic in Los Angeles in the last couple of months.

Last night, there was a crazy two-hour car chase that was televised on all the local news stations. A woman in Palmdale had stolen a U-Haul and drove it all the way from the high desert into downtown Los Angeles. She was clocked at speeds over 80 m.p.h. and managed to evade the police as she sped through such dense areas as Echo Park, Mid-City, West Los Angeles, Santa Monica and Malibu. She commanded the road, lightly traveled roads, along the 10, the 5, Pacific Coast Highway. This was during the rush hour, between 4-6pm. Finally, she ran out of gas near Oxnard, jumped out of the truck and was tackled and handcuffed by the police.

What amazed me, even more than her driving skills, which included evading a tire flattening strip on PCH, were the open freeways which she rocketed down. Where was the normal traffic that one encounters on these densely traveled highways?

Unemployment in LA is now around 10%. Many people are not going to jobs, and perhaps fewer people are shopping and eating out. Can a 10% reduction really make that big a difference? I think so.

We have all seen how much less traffic there is on Jewish holidays like Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashana. Jews make up no more than 15% ( or less) of the population of LA, yet a High Holiday will often result in much less traffic.

I drove from the barely attended Beverly Center this evening and noticed that there were fewer cars along LaCienega. Beverly Glen was not that crowded coming back into the Valley.

Maybe this is luck, or perhaps just a subjective impression, but I am beginning to wonder if the Great Recession is making a difference in how many cars are on the roads of our city.

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