(Photo: Reuters/ Eric Thayer)
Los Angeles appears to have emerged unscathed from what was supposed to be the worst part of the 405 freeway shutdown. Also, some cyclists raced a JetBlue flight during Carmageddon, and won.
The warnings of city-wide traffic gridlock issued by local government and the media appear to have worked. L.A. residents are mostly taking public transportation, walking, biking, ride-sharing, and just staying home. Indeed, the traffic in L.A. appears even lighter than normal for a Saturday afternoon.
Some businesses and groups are making use of the media attention Carmageddon brought to L.A. Jetblue sold $4 tickets to fly from Burbank to Long Beach on Saturday.
A group of bicyclists, called Wolfpack Hustle, decided to race a passenger on one of the flights. The airline passenger and cyclists left the same intersection in Hollywood at the same time. The passenger had to drive to the airport and arrive an hour before the plane left in order to secure his seat. As the plane left the runway in Burbank, the cyclists crossed the finish line in Long Beach.
One of the cyclists told the L.A. Times that the point of the exercise was to show “how feasible cycling is in L.A.,” and, “maybe how ridiculous it is to fly 40 miles.
The coining of the phrase “Carmageddon,” which captured the public's imagination, and the use of celebrity tweeters, seems to have worked to keep people off the roads. L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky coined the phrase in a press conference announcing the closure of the 405 freeway.
Some of Saturday's celebrity tweets include Marlee Matlin (“A quiet day in L.A. Everyone is finding other things to do and not drive…and it's working so far. Bike, hike, discover the neighborhood!”), and Jessica Alba (“Not gonna lie – loving LA during this #Carmageddon scare-there is zero traffic. It's like LA at xmas peace n quiet EVERYWHERE!”).
Ridership on L.A.'s public transportation system is way up, but taxi drivers are complaining about the loss of business. One taxi driver told the L.A. Times that normally he would have 15 to 16 rides on a Saturday, but by noon, he had only had one.
Construction on the 405 is scheduled to end by early Monday morning and the work is, so far, ahead of schedule.