Driving, Los Angeles
If you wanna visit LA, bear in mind you really do need a car. In fact, due to the long distances from one place to the other, it is impossible to reach a spot just on foot!
I was the only person walking there!
You really do need a car to get around LA-there's no other way around it. LA's got a bus and train system, but it's just too spread out to navigate without driving.
I found the freeways a little intimidating at first-hey, I heard all the stories. I did acclimate myself to them rather quickly though. One piece of advice: don't rent a small economy car-you simply need a faster car in LA.
I heard this somewhere: People say that 'Nobody walks in L.A.' but it's more accurate to say you're a nobody if you walk in L.A. or you're a nobody if you don't have a car.
Again, I'm only relaying what I heard; although I would agree with the fact that you need a car in L.A., commentaries aside.
If you get a chance to be in LA or around LA like I've had, get a car... Preferably a convertible because the weather is great around here most of the time.
The costs are relatively low, I rented a Ford Mustang Convertible for around $150 a week with unlimited miles. The roads are quite good, parking is never a problem, the only thing to avoid is rush hour. You don't want to stand in a traffic jam for hours just because you and 2 million others want to go to the beach at the same time.
When cruising up Pacific Coast Hwy from Santa Monica to and past Malibu, the posted speed limit is 45 MPH in some areas and 50 in others. However, the traffic tends to travel 5 to 10 MPH higher than the posted speed limit. The police will ticket anyone going 10 MPH over the speed limit. If you just drive the speed limit be sure to stay in the right lane.
I included the unrelated picture of the warning sign down near San Diego where illegal immigrants race across the freeway just because it is funny. But people do try to run across PCH, so you have to be careful.
Like everybody says, you have to have a car in LA. The seocnd time I went to LA i didn't have a car cause i wasn't old ebough to rent one so I had to use the great public transportation. I waited for a bus for more than an hour.....so just be smart and rent a car. Still, you will be sitting in traffic more than once that's for sure.
Traffic in La is horrendous and rush hour times are from around 8am to 9:30am and from 4pm to 7pm (it actually depends on the freeway). The worse freeways are the 10 and the 405, the 210 is pretty bad too.
The best thing is to understand that you will lose time in traffic and that no matter which freeway you choose, it will be packed with cars, so just take it easy, find a good radio station and enjoy the trip!!
LA is a car city. Everything is so spread out which makes a car a necessity. So is intestinal fortitude if you're planning on getting on a freeway, which is also required if you're going anywhere.
LA traffic is one of the worst in the nation. To compensate for this, anytime the freeways are not congested, Californians drive at a rapid and aggressive pace, weaving in and out of traffic and moving as fast as their car's RPM's will allow. After all, you never know when traffic will come to a screeching halt. This usually occurs when you're driving at a mere 70 mph while all other cars are weaving around you when suddenly brake lights come on in mass and everyone is stopped.
So, in a nutshell, a car is a necessity. Unless you're very wealthy and can afford a driver of your own.
Many road in LA are jammed even late at night or the weekend. The following is a list of problem areas and alternate routes:
The 101 Downtown to Ventura county
Try the 118 instead through the Valley.
The 405 from the 101 to the 105
You're screwed. You can take surface streets for short distances, but if you go to or from the Valley just try avoid rush hour. Possibly go through Malibu Canyon if it is on your way.
The 10 from Santa Monica to Downtown.
Try Olympic Blvd or Pico Blvd or if it is not out of your way too much, the 105 isn't half bad.
The 5 from Downtown to the 91 (near Disneyland)
Maybe try the 110 south to the 91 east.
In addition to the 118 and the 110 mentioned as quick freeways, also try to use:
The 210 north of Pasadena
PCH through Malibu (but not in the summer)
The 170 (usually moves at about 80mph)
If the metro goes where you are going, use it. It will be faster.
Without a doubt, traffic in LA sucks! And that is putting it mildly. I can proudly call quite knowledgeable about LA traffic as I am literally a professional commuter and am always willing to share my words of advice. If possible, try to avoid driving during "rush hour" traffic. Rush hour times are Monday to Fridays from 6am to 9am and from 3.30pm to 7pm. Also, plan to have some really good music, to help deal with the driving rage and snail pace crawl. And remember, BREATHE!
Los Angeles is full of cars and has essentially no useful subway system (although that may be changing). Anyway, avoid driving between 7:45 - 9:30 AM and between 3:30 - 6:45 PM. Rush hour is not fun for anyone and people drive like pricks. If you must drive during rush hour, don't bother using your turn signal to merge, because is seems that people will intentionally not let you over. Best method is to signal AS you are getting over, not before. If you are not driving at rush hour, drive at least the speed limit (which on most freeways is 65 - the exception being parts of the 110), but preferably faster. And don't bother with the carpool lane unless you plan to go 80 mph.
One thing that i like about the freeways in LA is the graffiti - especially the big pieces under the bridges - that you can see from your car. Many of you will probably find that odd or just simply disagree, but such is life.
The growth inducement potential of the highways greatly exceeded that of the streecar network because of the expanded scale of the highway system and the accelerating metropolitian growth which coincident with the begining of the automobile period.
There must be more Volkswagon Bugs per capita than anywhere else I've ever been. Of course, this picture was taken prior to the new VW Bugs were created. I liked this car's vanity license plates though, so I snapped a picture.
This isn't my tip, I found this bumper sticker on a California-registered vehicle on the freeway system in the greater Los Angeles area. "Road Rage" was probably a term coined in California, where in the 1980's people actually shot people who wouldn't get out of their way. Don't worry, I was the passenger when I took this picture. After seeing this I wasn't about to drive erratically!
The reason there are sooo many great cars in LA is that they are completely ncessary. you will be trapped without one, Public transportation sucks and taxis are too expensive. you can enjoy a week somewhere but would be best to have car,but be ready for traffic like you've never seen
Six years ago (in 1997) I was in LA too, and found driving really easy.
Before my visit of this year (2003) I checked the transportation tips here and to my big surprise almost everyone said that driving was tough, but the only way to go.
My tip: just avoid the busy hours: travel between 9am and 4.30 pm and from on 7pm again.
Driving in Sta Monica, Beverly Hills, Hollywood and Venice is easy. The roads are not too crowdy and I think most local drivers have good road-manners.