This weekend Los Angeles is enduring what’s being called “carmageddon.” A 10-mile portion of the 405 Freeway, one of the major North-South arteries serving the Westside of LA County (and beyond), including LAX, is closed for 53 hours while a carpool lane is constructed and half of a bridge is demolished and rebuilt. Various degress of commuter paralysis, business disruption, and lifestyle disintegration have been forecast across every known media platform, as though this town were in the midst of a nuclear meltdown. In a city where the automobile is king, shutting down a freeway is akin to regicide.
For those of us who don’t own a car, however, this weekend’s predicted turmoil isn’t a disaster. It’s an opportunity.
Our hope is that all the folks who have let their machines dictate how they live their life — instead of owning cars, the cars own them — will have a day or two to reflect on the simple pleasures of home. Of being local. Of visiting with neighbors. Of using one’s feet. Of riding a bicycle. Of going somewhere only because one must. Of being conscious and mindful.
We recognize that there will be some who must get somewhere. They may choose to use their automobile on an alternate route, many of which will be more clogged than the 405 during rush hour. But they might also explore public transportation; namely, the subway system, an underused but viable method for getting around our sprawling metropolis. Combined with a bike (permitted on the train), for $1.50 each way travelers can get wherever they need to be.
Perhaps this weekend will teach many of us that where we really need to be is in our gardens, reading a book, talking with family — like actually talking, face-to-face — thinking, being. Not rushing from here to there encased in our rolling capusle, burning up oil and warming our planet.
Perhaps, if we’re really lucky, the freeways will be closed more often.