Friday, May 2, 2008

Flippin' Off The Freeway

Okay, cue the timpani drums and orchestral horns, and imagine that clickety typewriter sound effect as each letter appears...

Los Angeles, CA, Thursday, May 1, 2008, 7:29 p.m.
Destination: Van Nuys/Lake Balboa area
Purpose: Classified extramilitant activity with operatives

The Militant set off in his car to the Valley as his operatives suggested he arrive at 8 p.m. Being it past 7 o'clock already, heading to the Valley should be a bree...uh-oh.

Upon entering the northbound 101 Freeway, traffic was crawling at snails-pace levels. A sea of read taillights could be seen as far down as the eye can see.

Not good. So the Militant headed into Shortcut Mode and traversed the sidestreets, hopefully entering the freeway onramp by Franklin & Gower.

No such luck. Upon reaching Franklin, there was another sea of taillights greeting him. Same for Hollywood and Sunset boulevards, and even Fountain Avenue (so much for cutting through Laurel Canyon...).

He spotted a fair number of bicycle commuters during his futile shortcut hunt. Wonder if they're trying to tell him something.

The Militant turned on KFWB and lo and behold, there was a fatal crash and an overturned truck on the northbound 101 at Barham - right smack dab in the middle of the Cahuenga Pass - the oh-so delicate artery of the circulatory system known as the Los Angeles freeway. Southbound traffic was free-flowing. The other way, not so much. Traffic backed up as far as Alvarado. This artery was blocked, and the City's having a heart attack right now.

Canceling the activity with operatives was an option, but not a wise one, as it was a rare opportunity that all parties involved were available this night, and rescheduling would throw another wrench into the Militant's plans.

The time now: 8:01 p.m..

Yes, the Militant spent half an hour in his car, navigating a 2-mile radius area fraught with impassable westbound congestion. Even if the Cahuenga Pass accident got cleared up at this point, this is gonna take a while.

Evasive measures were called for. The Militant headed straight back to the compound, parked the car and grabbed his backpack, iPod, jacket, gloves, helmet and bicycle. That all the Militant can stands, and he can't stands no more!

He pedaled straight to the nearest (M) station, got his daypass, and got on the platform.

Within seconds, he heard the rumble and hollow whoosh of a northbound Red Line train.

"Woo-Hoo!" the Militant exclaimed.

As it passed, the lights were off and the headsign read: OUT OF SERVICE.

"D'oh!" the Militant added.

But within a few minutes, at 8:35 p.m., an actual train arrived, full of passengers and with even three other bicycles in his subway car.

It was an odd ride, as the train screeched to a sudden halt in the Cahuenga Pass tunnel (don't tell the Militant that the accident up on the surface had an effect...), then stopped and started up again like an Elvis tune. The same thing also happened between Universal City and North Hollywood.

Upon reaching North Hollywood, he rushed to the elevators to the surface and joined the crowd of people waiting across Lankershim for the next Orange Line bus. But there were two other bicyclists already waiting on the platform...something's gotta give, and it was 8:53 p.m. already.

In a serendipitous turn of events, the arriving bus' front bike rack was able to hold all three of us cyclists. Awesome.

The Militant arrived at the Woodley station at 9:15. In four minutes he rolled his bike into the front yard of his operatives' house.

The entire 16-mile rail-bus-bike trip took 44 minutes.

30 minutes were wasted earlier in navigating the side streets in snarled traffic via car, a waste-of-time trek totaling almost 10 miles.

You tell the Militant which was the more efficient trip.


The Hollywood Jedi said...

Days like this don't you wish you had an AT AT like me and just walk over all the traffic?

Nick said...

Reading this, for a moment I was scared you were going to try this.

soledad.en.masa. said...

An At AT would definitely be cool, though I think a helicopter would be faster.

Danielle said...

The Red line did that screeching to a halt thing again today. Once going towards NoHo this a.m and twice on the way back to Sunset/Vermont this afternoon. Made me incredibly nervous...


Militant Angeleno said...

danielle: The Militant knows for a fact that the Red Line is equipped with a system that stops the train if it is going past a certain speed and is within a certain distance from the next train, so that either might be kicking in or there was a bug in the system that make it kick in even if it wasn't supposed to. Also, when the Militant arrived in North Hollywood, the doors did not open on his car, and we had to pull the emergency door opener ball on our car. Passing by the other cars, a few others had the same problem as well.

Militant Angeleno said...

The Hollywood Jedi: That only works when you're the only AT-AT on the road. Plus you'd still have to worry about those pesky snowspeeders circling you with cables all the time.

Actually in that case, the Militant would rather use a Pod-Racer.

The Hollywood Jedi said...

That T-47 airspeeder is pretty pesky but I think rebels might have trouble adapting them to the heat. The podracer would be good but you still have to deal with traffic

philpalm said...

For short hops on the bus lines I use a kick scooter. They're light, no worries that there are other scooterists and they make great weapons when collapsed. Gives new meaning to fighting traffic...

Some areas are not bus accessible especially when some lines shut down at night or on the weekend. Yes I do use a bike transported by a bus occasionally. We should do time trials measuring the time it takes by car vs the bus vs the bike and bikes w/buses...

The Hollywood Jedi said...

hey phil, dont forget AT AT's and pod racers!

Unknown said...

I have often timed my car times with my bike times in traffic. Bike times (plus rails on ocassion) always go by a bit faster. Not dramatically but it sures does beat the bouts of insanity I'm known to get in traffic (while in a car).

Elsongs said...

Julio: and the cool thing is, when you're angry and/or stressed on a bike, all you have to do is pedal harder, and you just more faster. In a car, if you get aggro all you can do is road rage...or face an assault charge.