72 hours a year. Three entire days, or almost a full two-week vacation (based on 8-hour workdays). But this is nothing close to a vacation – according to a new study, this is the approximate amount of time that Los Angeles-area drivers spend stuck in rush-hour traffic. But according to the L.A. Times, a regional-planning group disputes this finding, based on the study’s methodology; they say it’s even worse (closer to 100 hours a year)
“Rush hour” – what’s that? I’d say no one’s “rushing” anywhere, but considering how many drivers I see every day speeding up in a disappearing merge lane, or even on the shoulder – plus the lane-splitting motorcyclists riding between cars (yes, it’s legal in California. Tall Paul doesn’t currently own a motorcycle, but he is licensed for one, and he’ll tell you it’s “legal, but stupid”) – there do seem to be plenty of folks in a hurry. Hurrying to wait, from the looks of things.
We’ve got some big six-lane freeways out here, but sections of some of them are still no wider than three or four lanes. Public transportation isn’t extensive enough to be a realistic daily option for many people. This is the place that invented urban sprawl, and it’s seemingly sprawling more every year. Especially for families, it’s hard to find decent jobs, affordable housing, and good public schools all within a small geographical radius. Related to that topic, On Balance posts today about how the daily commute factors into work/family balance. It’s definitely one more challenge, I have to say, especially in these parts.
I hate when I complain about things I can’t do anything about, and that includes traffic conditions – and as long as I’d rather keep my current job than find one closer to home (and “home” remains somewhat confined due to custody arrangements and the kids’ schools), I’m choosing not to do anything about my part in it, so I really should shut up. But I probably won’t.* This afternoon I attended a meeting outside my office, and when I printed out my directions from Google Maps, they included estimated travel times – “about 34 minutes, up to 1 hour 30 minutes in traffic.” (It took about 45 minutes, which is definitely not bad.)
I’ve said it before – welcome to paradise. It has its price, and that includes the traffic. *Getting to whine about the traffic is a “gift with purchase.”