You know your city has an unhealthy dependency on automobiles when a road closure is referred to as "Carmageddon," yet that's just what the media and Los Angeles residents have nicknamed the 405 closure set to take place this weekend, from July 16-17. A quick look online shows more than 400 blog posts and articles have been written on the subject--including articles in international papers--and celebrities have even jumped in to help the city get the word out by tweeting the information (even if some celebs, ahem, tweeted the wrong date). From the way the media and the city has marketed the closure, you would think that Los Angeles is literally going to shut down as people take shelter in their homes and wait for some sort of post-apocalyptic nuclear winter.
To everyone in Los Angeles freaking out: it's going to be okay. In fact, I'd venture to suggest that by the time the weekend is upon on, people will be so convinced to stay at home that the roads will be completely empty and traffic-free. What's scarier than two days without the 405 is the fact that the issue has caused such a panic. Hospitals have had to create contingency routes, cities have created emergency resource services, and who knows how much money cash-strapped LA has spent on getting the word out. If we would instead invest all this kind of time and money in better public transit options and more bike lanes, closing the freeway might not create this absurd level of panic.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is offering free bus rides in LA this weekend in an effort to help alleviate any delays; that's a great start, but we need to incentivize public transit year-round, not just during a one-time road closure. With everyone sufficiently scared into not using their cars, this weekend will be a great chance to explore other modes of transit. So pull your bike out of the garage, ride the bus the two miles to the market, and see what the city could be like if automobiles didn't rule the streets of LA. Who knows, you might wish the 405 was closed every weekend.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Help us compile a Carmageddon-themed playlist over on our Facebook page by posting a song in the comments.