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 Post subject: Talk to me about driving in LA
PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2012 1:46 pm 
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Venomous Head of Veganism
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So I just got my license last year, and I'm not the best driver in the world. I mean, I'm decent for a new driver, but I can't parallel park and I'm not used to a ton of traffic or crazy asparagus interstate drivers. I have to go to LA for a few weeks and not driving is not an option, so I need to be talked down.

The neighborhood I'll be staying in is Los Feliz, and I'll need to go to Whole Foods (or some vegan-friendly market like that) fairly often. I see there are two WF in opposite directions, and I'm assuming the Glendale one would be a better drive than West Hollywood?

I dunno, I guess any words of wisdom for a newbie driver in LA?

PS I know this belongs in the Square but no one goes in there and it's my message board so I can do what I want!

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 Post subject: Re: Talk to me about driving in LA
PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2012 1:53 pm 
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Get good directions and look at maps so you know where you're going and have an idea of the area.
I also found that driving in large cities was less awful when I was doing it. If I thought about it too much it seemed overwhelming but once on the road I was just driving and it seemed less big.
Yes you can!

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 Post subject: Re: Talk to me about driving in LA
PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2012 1:56 pm 
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do you have a phone with a talking gps? its great to not need to look at a map but to have someone (thing) tell you where to go. the great thing about driving in a city is that you go really slow! i have not driven in LA, but you will probably have to be more aggressive than you are in Nebraska. In DC I would just put on my blinker and start getting over.


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 Post subject: Re: Talk to me about driving in LA
PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2012 1:59 pm 
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Two months after I got my license, I drove to Chicago. It was a nightmare. But it made driving around Nashville a breeze! I think my biggest piece of advice is to get a GPS, and expect to not be able to get over all the time to make your turns so you might end up going around the block. I'm a pretty passive driver, but I'd rather miss my turn than try to skate across a bunch of crazy drivers.

Also, if you're road tripping there you can drive through some bigger cities for practice.

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 Post subject: Re: Talk to me about driving in LA
PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2012 2:00 pm 
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Venomous Head of Veganism
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One thing I remember as a passenger in LA was that everyone sped up A LOT on yellow lights and even running a red was pretty normal. That scares the shiitake out of me because I am pretty trained to slow down on yellows.

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 Post subject: Re: Talk to me about driving in LA
PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2012 2:06 pm 
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I think slowing down at a yellow is a good thing.

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 Post subject: Re: Talk to me about driving in LA
PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2012 2:11 pm 
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Will I get rear ended of flipped off in LA if I do that?

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 Post subject: Re: Talk to me about driving in LA
PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2012 2:15 pm 
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Maybe you'll get a reality teevee show? Amazing woman slows down at yellow lights in LA. You can go around teaching other LA drivers to be more polite.

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 Post subject: Re: Talk to me about driving in LA
PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2012 2:24 pm 
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Honestly, I lived in LA for four years and ended up driving only for one week while living there. I was house-sitting for my boss at the time, who loaned me her Volvo. aaaah. AAAH. Anyway. It was not NEARLY as bad as I thought it was going to be, for the exact reasons stated above: there's so much forking traffic that you end up actually going slow. I remember being pleasantly surprised that it allowed me enough time to listen to NPR on the way to class. And if you want to avoid people honking at you, just avoid freeways. People usually speed up to merge or change lanes, which I know freaked me out initially. Surface streets oddly can end up saving you a load of time, too.

In general, I'd say definitely be cautious but don't be afraid to drive confidently there. I can guarantee you're a better driver than most people in LA (possibly not a statement of encouragement, but ..ehh).

And yes, Glendale WF makes more sense that West Hollywood, for sure. Lemme know if you have other questions.


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 Post subject: Re: Talk to me about driving in LA
PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2012 2:31 pm 
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It actually isn't bad at all but on the freeway, it can be a bit confusing with so many interchanges so you'd just need to watch the signs and move to the appropriate lanes.

And drive however it makes you feel comfortable.

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 Post subject: Re: Talk to me about driving in LA
PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2012 2:31 pm 
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I've never driven in LA, but I've driven in Europe and Chicago where every road was under construction, and DC, where every road was blocked for some event or some such thing. Same advice applies.

Have a gps unit so you aren't worried about directions, and just try to relax for your first few forays. Once you've gone out in the traffic and areas a few times, you'll be fine and it will be old hat.

Find a big empty parking lot somewhere and practice parallel parking. It's pretty easy once you have the hang of it.

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 Post subject: Re: Talk to me about driving in LA
PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2012 2:32 pm 
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My LA driving experience was 20 years ago. On the plus side, loads of traffic means you're often moving pretty slow. On the minus, people are pretty free with their horns. But I was a newbie driver when I lived there and I survived.

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 Post subject: Re: Talk to me about driving in LA
PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2012 2:32 pm 
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I drove in LA for a year, no problems. The roads are busy, but the traffic is slow. You'll be fine.

(Not really relevant, but the bloke in the car rental place called the car I rented a "glunt". It just thought it was some kind of 'Mercan slang, but it turned out to be a Gallant.)

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Last edited by Ruby Rose on Mon May 28, 2012 2:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Talk to me about driving in LA
PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2012 2:34 pm 
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And just watch for motorcyclists! Splitting lanes is legal there, so you will see motorcycles driving in between lanes on the freeways.

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 Post subject: Re: Talk to me about driving in LA
PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2012 2:48 pm 
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my first driving on the right (er, wrong) side of the road was in LA, and I didn't end up dead or anything. I think if you pay a modest amount of attention, you'll be fine. besides, the traffic barely moves there through the day ;)

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 Post subject: Re: Talk to me about driving in LA
PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2012 2:55 pm 
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Budget double the amount of time you think it should take you to get anywhere. There is traffic all day, every day in LA. Every time I go I get so frustrated because I feel like I spend a ridiculous amount of time just sitting in my car going nowhere.


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 Post subject: Re: Talk to me about driving in LA
PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2012 3:19 pm 
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Be confident, and get full-coverage insurance from the rental car place. If you have a smartphone, pay for the TeleNav app or get a GPS from the rental car place. You'll be fine.

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 Post subject: Re: Talk to me about driving in LA
PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2012 3:27 pm 
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I spent a few days in LA last year. The traffic was bad (it took us 2 hours to go about 20 miles the first day we were there). Having a GPS will be helpful.

Other than taking a lot of time to get around it isn't too bad.


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 Post subject: Re: Talk to me about driving in LA
PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2012 3:47 pm 
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OK- Yes, Glendale will be easier! The parking lot in WeHo is a special section of hell, plus the Glendale store is much bigger. But, don't waste yo monies buying produce there, there are 2 small weekly farmer's markets in silverlake and the best farmer's market is Sunday, in Hollywood.

Also- driving in LA isn't so bad... I'm a terrible driver, but most people drive a lot, so there isn't too much craziness on the road besides the traffic!

And... if you're in Los Feliz, you can walk / bike / bus the area really easily for general entertainment, etc. so it shouldn't be too hard to keep the car time to a minimum

Have a great trip!

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 Post subject: Re: Talk to me about driving in LA
PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2012 3:49 pm 
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Yeah, but if you go to the West Hollywood WF you'll meet a bunch of glamorous lesbians.


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 Post subject: Re: Talk to me about driving in LA
PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2012 4:17 pm 
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Just try to stick to the side of the highway your exit will be on, so you don't have to cut across too many lanes and stress yourself out. I like to be aware of the next couple steps in the directions, which is helpful if you have someone in the passenger seat, or if not, to have a printed directions that you can read while sitting still in traffic. It shouldn't be that bad. In my experience, the busier the traffic (i.e. NYC, effing Jersey, Austin, Chicago) the more sitting around there is and going at a snails pace. Try to drive at off-hours, early in the morning before rush hour or later at night or just not at rush hour. It gets easier the more you do it, so just push yourself to drive in scary places!

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 Post subject: Re: Talk to me about driving in LA
PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2012 4:47 pm 
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If you don't usually use a gps I caution against them. I find listening to that damn voice incredibly annoying and if I can't understand it then I don't know what to do. I'm a more confident driver when I know where I'm going from doing my research. I'd only use a gps as a backup in case I got confused but I am also the last person on earth with a paper atlas in my car, no smart phone and no gps device. I drive uphill in the snow both ways to get to my local health food store.

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 Post subject: Re: Talk to me about driving in LA
PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2012 5:04 pm 
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pandacookie wrote:
If you don't usually use a gps I caution against them. I find listening to that damn voice incredibly annoying and if I can't understand it then I don't know what to do. I'm a more confident driver when I know where I'm going from doing my research. I'd only use a gps as a backup in case I got confused but I am also the last person on earth with a paper atlas in my car, no smart phone and no gps device. I drive uphill in the snow both ways to get to my local health food store.

Yep, same here. I'd rather rely on my own hippocampus. You'll get to know the city better without the GPS.


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 Post subject: Re: Talk to me about driving in LA
PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2012 5:28 pm 
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Definitely get a GPS with traffic (one with surface road traffic is ideal, most only have freeway) but look at the turn list before hand so you know what to expect. I live right next to Los feliz, in Atwater village, it's a great area and yes, lots of places you can walk. I echo the Glendale Whole Foods over weho. There is also a health food store with good produce and lots of vegan stuff right in Los Felix on Hillhurst. It used to be called Naturemart/bulk bin, but is now Larson's, I'm not sure if they switched the sign from the old one.

Traffic can be intense, it's a lot different from NY/east coast in that there are so many more lanes on the freeways, so many more freeways to get on from the left and right, and there's no fast lane on the left (except for carpool lanes). People just go whatever speed they want in whichever lane they want, which is aggravating and fun at the same time. I wouldn't worry too much about making people mad in their cars. Most people are mad in their cars here (but really nice otherwise!). Just do whatever you are comfortable with and maybe try to stay off the freeways when possible (most GPS have a surface roads option). People do run yellows and reds a lot, particularly when turning left because there aren't many turning arrow a (but there are in Glendale), so if you sit at red and yellow lights in those situations someone will beep, but if they get poised otherwise, just ignore them. Good luck and I am really curious what you'll be in town for (something fun and/out delicious?)!

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 Post subject: Re: Talk to me about driving in LA
PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2012 6:26 pm 
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Everyone here pretty much has it covered, but have some thoughts from a transplanted New Englander who drives in LA about twice a month. Really, get a GPS. Even if you turn off the voice, it will be really useful when you're on the freeway to map out where you're going so you don't end up cutting across 5 lanes of traffic in 50 feet to make it to an exit. Yes, the exits are marked that poorly. Map everything out if you're not sure where it is because it's surprisingly easy to get lost and not be able to turn around. Keep calm, even if you've got a gigantic SUV barreling down on you. Don't worry too much about pissing them off; they will go around you unlike in many places. People are in general pretty polite about you merging into their lanes, so that's nice too.

tl;dr: you shouldn't have too much trouble. Just stand your ground and invest in good maps/use a GPS so you know where your turn is. And don't be afraid to cut people off because otherwise there's no way in hell you're getting across the freeway. And add an hour per 10 miles onto your expected travel time unless it's the middle of the night.

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