This is a column about traffic.
To begin with, we have to define our terms. Traffic is the line of cars in front of you, impeding your voyage into town or to the market, to the restaurant or to get your kids to soccer practice.
Those cars are a public disgrace and a menace, filling our roads and our highways, spewing hydrocarbons into our air. They are filled with people intending to park on our streets, in front of our houses, or to sit on our beaches, swim in our ocean and make total nuisances of themselves by refusing to go home and leave us alone.
You, on the other hand, sitting in your car, listening to your tape, talking on your cell phone, putting on your makeup or trying to read the morning paper while the traffic crawls, are not traffic. You are a free American exercising your God-given right to an open road and free passage. A right protected, I’m sure, by some amendment to the U.S. Constitution or the California Constitution, or perhaps it was a Malibu city ordinance. Whatever, you know the one I mean: “That it shall be a misdemeanor for person or persons domiciled outside of Malibu to interfere in any manner with the free right of passage of any citizen of Malibu, etc., etc., etc.” Well, you get the general idea.
The slide on Pacific Coast Highway has severely challenged this constitutional right of free passage for the citizens of Malibu. With the highway closed, we have been forced to find alternative routes into town. To assist in that effort, last week The Malibu Times printed a map on our front page, a map that explained one of the back routes, via Las Flores Canyon Road and Schueren Road to Topanga Canyon into town. I want to make it absolutely clear that we published that map solely for the benefit of the citizens of Malibu.
The first reports are in, and we are shocked to see that others — outsiders, probably Valley people — are using our emergency alternative route into town. Apparently, the volume of traffic on that route jumped after we published the map, for which I must apologize. We attempt to make sure that The Malibu Times doesn’t fall into the hands of outsiders, but despite our diligence, an occasional bootleg copy gets out and is passed around in the Valley.
We know the people clogging our emergency alternative route are outsiders, because they’re doing things that no self-respecting citizen of Malibu would do.
For one thing, some of them are driving the back route like it was a qualifying lap for the international grand prix. Since there is a sequence of blind curves, narrow roads and deep canyons on either side, only an outside fool would speed under those circumstances. I can understand that some are being driven to distraction by a few little old Valley ladies who are driving at 15 mph, enjoying the scenery, seemingly oblivious to the fact that California Vehicle Code, if not just common good manners, requires that you pull over and let the other cars pass if they’re piling up behind you.
The CHP, the sheriffs and the fire department are also disturbed because the volume of traffic and the very slow drivers are causing outsiders to do some very stupid things, like passing on narrow roads and blind curves.
As these outsiders drive their cars past The Malibu Times building, we can actually smell the burned-up brake linings caused, I’m sure, by 35 continuous minutes of dangerously riding brakes down the hill.
I, for one, have decided to give them a dose of their own medicine. Last week, I had several trips into town, and rather than take the back route, which I must confess always makes me nauseated, I opted instead to go the Valley route. I found that if you leave a little earlier and drive over Malibu Canyon to the 101 or across Mulholland Highway to Topanga Canyon Boulevard to the 101, the total trip time comes out about the same. You also have the satisfaction of knowing that you’re paying them back in kind for their excessive usage of our roads.
Hopefully, some of this problem will vanish when Caltrans opens a couple of lanes on PCH, which is supposed to happen this week.