As I write this, it is the eve of “Carmageddon” here in Los Angeles — the 53-hour shutdown of the 405 Freeway, the city’s central traffic artery. What a wonderful event! While to many, it may be an extreme inconvenience, and in a weird kind of way, even have the appearance of a natural disaster, I see it as a major opportunity for “neighborhood reorientation.”
By that, I mean it will hopefully serve to give residents a new appreciation of the things their local communities and neighborhoods have to offer, which so often tend to be bypassed or overlooked in the hubbub of daily commuting. For just one weekend, they’ll have a real chance to get to know their neighbors, to become better acquainted with local restaurants and businesses, to buy from local produce sellers, and to better familiarize themselves and their families with nearby parks, recreational sites and points of interest (and perhaps even walk to these places instead of driving).
To me, this is really a positive development, and the publicity it has received is even better. It is a reminder of how disconnected we have become from our own communities and how dependent we are on “freeways” that in some respects are more like “prisonways”. So I, for one, am really looking forward to Carmageddon and its promise of the rediscovery of where we live. In any event, I will be fascinated to hear what people have to say about how their lives and perspectives were affected by this event once traffic is moving again.