Since we're talking about shortcuts
A few days ago, I posted about sitting in L.A. traffic on Halloween, and opened the floor for people to make shortcut suggestions. Turns out that the mere mention of the words "shortcut" and "share" in the same sentence can make at least one person go temporarily insane, and others suddenly think that they're in sole possession of highly classified government information. Who knew?
Anyway, my friend and colleague Sloane Berrent posted her thoughts on it, which got me thinking…maybe what's happened is that after living here for 6 years, I've become cynical about shortcuts. See, here's the other thing about them—much like the unknown dive bars that Sloane mentioned, no matter how much you want to hide them from those pesky hipsters, shortcuts don't stay shortcuts for long. We're not the only drinkers in LA, and we're also not the only drivers. For instance, probably a lot of us can remember a time when Fountain was, in fact, a shortcut. That was around the same time that I could rent a 2-bedroom apartment in Los Feliz for
$1050. Now, much like other beloved shortcuts that I used to know, Fountain is as much of a clusterfuck as everything else.
So, kudos to Sloane for the good idea about tips! I personally feel that specifics like street names can't hurt--so let's all try not to get our panties in a knot when we see them below. After all, I'm pretty sure their existence has been made public prior to this post. That said, in a continued attempt to rekindle my interest in the road less traveled (and maybe yours too), here are some more ideas:
Think parallel: It's amazing how often going north or south just one street will get you into a clearing. For example, Lexington, De Longpre, and La Mirada are among tons of streets that run east to west through Hollywood. Streets number 4-6 can be good, too. If you can maneuver your way off the street you're on, give it a try.
Don't be afraid to get lost: You might find a better route by accident. I discovered State, Mission, and 1st to avoid the 101 and 110 through downtown from where I work in East LA by turing right one day and hoping for the best. It might not always work, but it's worth a try.
A word about those cab drivers: It's possible that you'll get lucky with a cab driver who teaches you a new shortcut. But, you probably have a better chance of getting one who isn't quite so Glenda the Good Witch. Many cabbies will drive you around in circles if they think you don't know where you're going (or, more importantly, where they're going). Unless you know for sure that you're not getting the runaround, you might not want to rely on cab drivers for the shortest way from point A to point B.
…and about directions from friends: As the just-take-Fountain suggestion demonstrates, even your most well-intentioned friends who think they have great shortcuts might be wrong. If you don't know where you're going, don't assume that someone else does. Always double check directions with a map (that goes for mapquest and google directions, too).
The radio gives traffic updates for a reason: Tune in.
Here's the thing: people are going to find out about your shortcuts no matter who you don't tell. The Thomas Guide is, after all, sold at Barnes and Noble. And, the reality is that if more people in this city thought about or talked about alternate routes, the city wouldn't be as congested in the first place. So like Sloane said, if you have any other tips, go for it.
Photo by lorenabuena via flickr