Why Evening Rush Hour Feels So Much Worse Now
I have a confession: I miss rush hour.
Living in Los Angeles, I had come to depend on that swell of traffic twice a day as the sunrise and sunset of my freeway-centric life. Knowing the rhythms of the traffic made me feel like I knew how to navigate my city.
But that predictability is gone. After months of insanely empty freeways the drivers are back on the roads, but I can never say when I will meet them.
Before the pandemic, traffic in most US cities followed a similar pattern: peaking around 6 a.m. and slightly higher around 5 p.m.
But now the number of drivers on the road is increasing throughout the day, with a sharp increase in the morning reaching a higher peak in the evening. In many places, this resulted in worse afternoon traffic than before the pandemic.
Ian Shapiro, a home inspector who lives in downtown LA, said his morning commutes have gotten shorter this year, but what was once a 45-minute afternoon commute between LA’s Westside and downtown started to take up to an hour and 45 minutes.
“It’s just chaos in the afternoon,” Shapiro, 42, told me. “It’s going to be a nightmare when the kids go back to school.
In metro Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego, drivers were more likely to be on the road at night this year compared to 2019, according to Streetlight Data, an analytics company that uses GPS data from cellphones. to follow traffic patterns.
The roads tend to be more empty in the morning, as many people have not returned to work from their desks. But in the afternoon, those workers go home, while remote workers check things on their to-do lists, like shopping for groceries, going to the gym, or picking up their kids from camp.
“There are still a lot of people,” Martin Morzynski of Streetlight told me. “And the only time it’s less crowded these days is in the morning.”
Of the four locations Streetlight analyzed for me – San Diego, San Francisco, LA, and Sacramento – San Diego and Sacramento’s current traffic patterns most closely resemble 2019, with more distinct double peaks in the morning and evening. .
San Diego and Sacramento reopened their businesses earlier than the other two cities, suggesting the rest of the state could also return to 2019 traffic patterns in the coming months as things return to normal, Morzynski said. .
For Shapiro, congestion is a painful reminder of how wonderfully desolate the freeways were just a year ago. But, he made his peace with the traffic, he told me.
“You just have to accept that this is the way of life in Los Angeles,” he said. “It’s never going to go away.”
My colleague Emily Badger focused on the extent to which an increase in remote work could help alleviate rush hour, writing that “every additional car doesn’t necessarily contribute to the same amount of traffic worse. As you approach a tipping point, a few more cars can strangle a freeway. Likewise, removing a small share can relieve congestion.
If you read a story, do this
President Biden said last week that he wanted half of new cars sold to be battery-powered by the end of the decade, an ambitious target given that the current rate is only 4%.
But there is a big obstacle: the cost.
While electric car owners can save money in the long run, many Americans cannot afford the large investments required upfront. The Chevrolet Bolt, a low-end electric car, starts at $ 31,000, almost $ 10,000 more than the bigger gasoline-powered Chevy Malibu.
Read more from my colleagues Ivan Penn and Niraj Chokshi.
What we eat
This quick sandwich recipe makes canned chickpeas a bold and hearty meal.
Where we travel
Today’s California travel tip comes from Angelin Marie McGowan, a reader who lives in Oakland. Angeline writes:
My hidden gem is a weekend in Philo, California. Driving from the bay area (3-4 hours). Our family (2 parents, 2 young children, 2 dogs) are camping at the dog-friendly Hendy Woods Campground which is surrounded by redwoods (keeps the area cool on hot summer days). The wine tasting is wonderful – it reminds me of the good old days when Sonoma was not so famous and crowded. Most are also suitable for children and dogs. We usually end the day by basking by the Navarro River. On the way back, we buy sandwiches at the Philo de lemons market.
Tell us about the best places to visit in California. Email your suggestions to [email protected] clock.com. We will share more in future editions of the newsletter.
And before leaving, some good news
After a 17-month hiatus, “Hamilton” takes the stage this week at the Orpheum Theater in San Francisco.
Producers say West Coast production is the first to reopen in North America, The Mercury News reports. The play will return to Broadway in New York in mid-September.
A negative Covid test or proof of vaccination will be required to see the musical so, ticket holders, do not throw away your shot (cards).
Thanks for reading. I’ll be back tomorrow. – Soumya
PS here the mini-crosswords of the day, and a hint: Messenger ___ (what Pfizer and Moderna vaccines use) (3 letters).
Steven Moity contributed to California Today. You can join the team at [email protected] clock.com.
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