This blog is about the story of my family here in America. We arrived in the 1630s as Puritans, and became the common folk of the New World.

How to drive an LA freeway

Los Angeles is all about freeways. Some of the freeways were built back in the 1940s, and most in the 1960s. There have been changes in the technology of freeways in the last fifty years, and where it has been possible, the city has made improvements.

One of the hardest things to do on a freeway in LA is to just stay on a straight course. If you look at a map of the Los Angeles area, you see that it is pretty much a straight shot due west from Pasadena to Calabasas. But if you just say, *I'm just going to go west*, you will get in trouble. And, unfortunately, the freeway signs don't help much. And if you're looking at your GPS, you might as well be playing *Angry Birds*.

No, there is no evil group at The California Department of Transportation wringing their hands and saying, *this'll drive 'em crazy!* It just has to do with the history. Parts of the Los Angeles area, such as Pasadena, are over 100 years old. And it has been very, very crowded for most of that time. The freeways have been *shoehorned* into very tight areas, through canyons, over rivers. And the biggest problems is when they criss-cross. It's at these *pinch points* that you need to learn how the locals drive the freeways.

If you're a vistor to LA, or if you are new to there, you may get the impression that everyone else on the freeways knows what to do except you. And this is absolutely true. Almost everyone on an LA freeway drives the same stretch of road over and over and over. LA is not a tourist town. It's a place for locals. So this is how you do it.

First of all, ignore the signs. Locals drive by landmarks mostly. By the time you see a sign that tells you what lane to be in, it's way too late. Every once in a while you will see some brave soul suddenly try to change across four lanes of traffic at the last minute, but most people will just find themselves stuck in a lane and heading for Barstow. Or San Diego. If you've visited LA, you've done that. Admit it.

Whatever you do, don't listen to locals argue about the best route here or there. It's the subject of conversation at parties, whether to take the 405 or the 210, and which exit is best, but it's just noise. Cover your ears and hum. Instead, ride with a local and watch. You can compare it to how you knew your neighborhood on your bicycle as a kid. You really couldn't describe it, you just knew where you were going. And you did it so many times that it became so easy that you went fast.

That's how to drive an LA freeway.



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