Los Angeles Carpark

It's stating the bleeding obvious to state that Los Angeles is a car-city, but it really is tragic to see. Large parts of the city are little more than undergirding for a network of concrete freeways that head in every concievable direction in all their loud, imposing ugliness. Urban areas are dark and unpleasant to wander around, with carparks dominating areas that in most other cities would be for shops, parks and urban space for people rather than vehicles.

The public transport system is adequate without being great, but it seems to take an almost apologetic tone, conceding early that it is a second choice and used only by those too young, old, poor, disabled, foreign or ethnic to get behind the wheel of an SUV. Apart from the superficial problem of a lack of transportation for non-drivers, its effect on the life of the city is depressing and obvious.

The almost biblical devotion to the motor car is laden with politics. To Americans, their car is their sanctuary of freedom and individuality, a private space away from the unclean and uncivilised masses outside their doorway. It is a place they can exercise complete control over their environment (the irony that they are enslaved by their vehicles is apparently lost on them) and their destination. Any attempt to suggest that they would be better off without it is met with derision and suspicion.

Intercity transportation is also laughable without a vehicle. The three hour journey from Los Angeles to San Diego took seven hours via Greyhound. The company routinely sells more tickets than it has seats, so passangers may need to wait for the second bus or beyond (with intervals beyond an hour for each bus) before getting on board. At the bus terminal, the management are clearly believers in the principles of minimalism, when it comes to both signage and cleanliness. After two hours at the terminal, we finally boarded. Half way to San Diego, we were stuck in bumper to bumper traffic on the laughably titled freeway, with mostly single-occupany vehicles on the road blocking our path. As a bus, we received no priority access. To an outsider, it was obvious that the two problems were linked in a vicious circle: because the bus service is so poor, most people drive themselves, resulting in traffic which slows the bus and hence worsens the service. Repeat ad infinitum. If only more of these selfish drivers were to jump aboard, our journey would be so much quicker.


Anonymous said…
aren,t you glad you live in pollution free chapel street specially on saturday nights lol

glad to know that you are fit and well, specially that you have found cheap internet in mexico
Anonymous said…
Bill Bryson writes of America's love of the motor vehicle in "The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid", at one point saying that 69,000 new cars were bought in 1945, but by the mid-fifties, 8 million new cars were being bought each year. Whilst this was a natural result of WWII ending, it's still a massive increase.

From what you've said, seems as though the roads they drive on dominate the community, and that's just sad.
Anonymous said…
I can confirm that America is investing more than Australia in public transport. The reason why they look worst is because they are - they've got a very long way to go until they reach out level (at this rate, outstripping us) and proceed on to rival Europe and Japan in transportation excellence.
Anonymous said…
All I have to say is thank goodness we have a huge variety of any car we want! The only thing missing here in the states, is the autobon that they have in germany but hey thats okay!
I mean if anybody has the money to buy a lamborghini, then i think theres enough money to pay for the occassional speeding ticket

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