Is traffic on the Eastside now as bad as on the Westside?

Glendale Boulevard during the evening rush hour

Glendale Boulevard during the evening rush hour

Not yet but L.A. Times columnist and Silver Lake resident Steve Lopez seems to think that congestion has definitely gotten worse closer to home as “Westside traffic has moved east.” In a recent column, Lopez writes:

No matter which way I turn in and around Silver Lake, there are routine tie-ups where there used to be relatively clear sailing … It’s still nothing like trying to motor east on Olympic or Wilshire near the 405 during the evening rush, when ants make better time. But I drive a lot for work, and I can tell you by my estimation that traffic has gotten worse in much of Southern California in the last year, not just the Hollywood-downtown-Pasadena triangle where I spend most of my time.

Is Eastside traffic more congested because of cheap gas and gentrification or are all of those new small-lot townhouse developments and bike lanes to blame? Probably all of those and other factors have played a role, Lopez surmises.


  1. This is very true. Not just in the Silver Lake area but where I commute from going into Downtown LA going through El Sereno to Lincoln Heights traveling on North Broadway then through Chinatown. Congestion is everywhere!!!

    • It is a simple calculation for me. More gentrification = More traffic.

      You people need to learn how to take the bus.

      • proper dos, As for me, I took the bus for most half my life and it was good at one time. It is no longer reliable and takes too long to get to my destination. If LA had a more reliable transit system I would take the bus. Not to mention it’s too expensive.

      • you dumb ass. we running out of oil.

  2. Virgil is now more congested because they took it from two lanes in either direction to one and a middle turn lane. Also, Hoover around Melrose has become congested thanks to stop signs at Marathon/Hyperion and Bellevue. In these two cases it’s city planning to blame.

    • Maybe, do we have any traffic data to back that up? Slower top speeds don’t necessarily mean it’s taking people longer to go from point A to point B.

      Besides, there’s more important reasons for adding stop signs, bike lanes and reducing traffic lanes in LA (public safety and property values, for starters.)

      • that’s right.. average speed is all that matters. On my way to work after dropping the kids at school, I drive down a four lane (two each way) with a 30mph speed limit. Given the width of the road, I admit 30mph feels slow; however, I put it on cruise and chillax. Those folks sweaving and jockying and speeding, end up getting to the same place at the same time.

        • Sorry to say but that’s another reason for so much traffic congestion, kids being driven to school. We use to walk 5 miles to school . I know many take their kids to schools outside of their district but that’s another reason for so much traffic. When schools are on vacation, the traffic lightens by over 50%

          • I agree that school traffic is a major impact.
            here in Pasadena, 1/3 of all kids are in private school, each need to be driven.
            Even for public school, a small fraction of kids go to their local neighborhood school. Many get driven cross town.. plus, school buses seem to be a thing of the past.

    • I can vouch for the congestion, and more, on Virgil. The city brought the 4 lanes down to two to make room for the bicycle lanes, which not only causes congestion, but makes the route more dangerous. I was broad sided by someone heading north on Virgil just north of Melrose in May. My car was totaled, I was injured, and one of the witnesses told me that since the lane changes, there have been a lot more accidents on Virgil.

  3. As the economy improves, traffic get’s worse:

    But no, east side traffic is nonexistent compared to the westside of LA.

    That being said, the photo in the article of Alvarado hitting Glendale is an atrocious intersection in need of serious re-working.

    • And then there’s the other side of that argument…. “Rising traffic congestion will significantly undermine the economic competitiveness of U.S. cities and regions unless policymakers earnestly try to reduce it.” That’s what the Reason Foundation discovered as they crunched the numbers for lost productivity due to increasing traffic congestion. Read it here http://reason.org/files/ps371_growth_gridlock_cities_policy_summary.pdf

      “Overall, traffic congestion is estimated to cost the US Economy $80 Billion per year in lost productivity”

      At some point, for Los Angeles, the harmful effects on the environment, the lost economic productivity and the psychological toll of being trapped in traffic will cause folks to move elsewhere– eventually– after all the developers have made their cash and left us holding the bag.

      • Show me how those costs are calculated, please, because all the congestion relief I’ve seen in my lifetime has only piled on debt and made land values go down, health problems increase, and fractured communities.

        • Those numbers are always seriously flawed as they make the assumption that travel time equates to work time and that everyone coming on going within those corridors are in cars and have relatively high paying jobs. There is no exact way to ever calculate that especially as this is more of an opportunity cost of losing sleep or free time than actually effective work productivity or output. It was a tool developed by traffic engineers to validate more highway expansions.

          Also the harmful effect to the environment that she says are caused by cars, enabling more cars to travel on the roads won’t improve that issue, also roads are among the least productive land uses, right up there with surface parking lots. We can never build our way out of congestion it just doesn’t work. Any knowledge about latent and induced demand will tell you that. And as others have stated productive economies have traffic and congestion, NYC, LA, SF, Chicago and other cities which are the economic drivers of the US economy all have that in common.

          • “We can never build our way out of congestion”

            please tell that to the high density housing advocates.

        • It’s all documented in the linked attachment. It’s really up to municipalities to address it individually. The report shows that there’s a direct link between the loss of economic productivity and the number of hours folks sit in traffic. LA seems to be using the build-it-bigger strategy in areas where they claim people will be able to live closer to where they work. Much to the delight of developers, the City doesn’t seem to care that there’s not a lot of real life evidence coming from within Los Angeles to support this strategy. Hence, we have over-sized buildings and no corollary effect of less congestion.

          . If you are young, single, and fully focused on your career, then it works– you move closer to where you work. If you have a family, for example, there’s many reasons you might want to live in a certain neighborhood (school quality, community connections) that might be distant from where you work.
          I never see a parent with a small child in tow zip down the bike lane to run errands— I hope we get there someday.

    • Even at its worst, East Side traffic is nothing compared to the West Side – thank heavens! When I lived near UCLA, I usually tried to do my grocery shopping between 10am-2pm on weekdays. Any other time you risked total gridlock. Horrible.

  4. More people == more cars. More cars == more congestion, traffic and parking problems.

    High density over-development coming home to roost. And, all of our local areas continue to approve more and more increases in housing. Westside traffic will have nothing on us soon.

    • I don’t know if you’ve checked out the actual census data, but the westside isn’t a very densely populated area. They have mind-numbing traffic because of a lack of housing relative to jobs… not the other way around.

      Bottom line is traffic congestion in desirable big cities only gets worse. The only proven way to reduce it is to charge people to drive in/out at peak hours (which could then be used to fund mass transit, giving people options to get around the region without a car.)

      But I highly doubt LA voters will ever go for something like that (not in my lifetime at least.)

    • I don’t know if traffic is up or not, but to blame more density and more people living on the east side is plain wrong. All of Central and East LA have lost population since 2000. The population of the Silverlake-Echo Park community has gone down by a staggering 10% since that time. Northeast LA is down 2%, Hollywood is down 6%.. Wilshire is down 5%, etc. Check the census.

      • It really depends on who is moving into a community. Richer households tend to have more cars and tend to drive more since the gas is not a large expense for them. Of course, cheaper gas, better economy, WAZE, could all be contributing.

      • You’re absolutely correct about declining populations on the Eastside. It’s actually something that rarely ever gets mentioned as the neighbors who remain (or who moved in) complain about how everything is getting so congested.

      • where are you getting your data?
        LA Times neighborhood mapping, which gets data from the census and city planning, shows an INCREASE in Silver Lake that would equate to an 8% increase from 2000 to 2010

        Additionally, Silver Lake is not in a vacuum with walls around it. Increases in population in surrounding areas effect each other as well

  5. Nothing will ever be as bad as the Westside!
    Mini malls, traffic, overpriced-everything, plastic surgery, oh the humanity !!!

  6. Its probably because of that bike lane on Rowena. 🙂

  7. There isn’t much traffic on the streets of Vernon. Great place to drive after 6 p.m.

  8. This is why we have to start thinking about riding bikes more, taking trains, providing better public transportation, etc. I was born and raised in LA. I’ve lived here for almost 5O years and traffic is at an all time high. I know most of you think the bike lane people are nuts, but I think they are visionaries and I am NOT a bike rider per se, but we HAVE to look to the future and sitting in a car for two hours to travel 20 miles is nuts. I’d gladly ride a bike if I could safely get from point A to point B. I’ve lived in Berlin and Amsterdam. Everybody rides bikes there. We can too!

    • Alex you have a lot of smart, well thought out ideas. But I have a far better one…

      JET PACKS.

      And if we can ever solve the mutant-fly problem… TELEPORTERS.

    • Thank you for your comments. Frankly, what the Lopez op-ed misses entirely is the point that the Eastside is quite WALKABLE and BIKEABLE in ways that, outside of Santa Monica, the Westside simply can’t even come close to. And it’s not just about going to hit a single destination on foot – it’s about a cluster of destinations. So if you want to grab a drink with friends, then a bite to eat, and then a movie, you can do all that within easy walking distance on the Eastside in a way that you cannot on the Westside. Those people who can and do choose to get around on foot or on two wheels then keep much fewer four-wheeled vehicles off the road, keeping down traffic volumes on the Eastside even though residential density is much higher in the east than in the west.

      Lopez misses all this because he’s only considering the world from behind his windshield, which includes seeing bike lanes as a potential enemy. But in reality people moving around on foot and by bike does far more to impact congestion levels than does adding a little more car capacity here or there, which miraculously fills up the moment it gets added anywhere.

  9. In the old days, the heavy traffic in the morning on the 10 fwy was from west to east, and in the evening, from east to west. Now, it’s completely turned around. I guess there are more folks living around downtown and working on the westside, than vice versa.

  10. Wow, all these comments and not one mention of fuel prices. Seems totally obvious. Let’s raise the fuel tax now, to pay for better (not more) infrastructure and reduce traffic.

    • Yes the improving economy and low gas prices explains most of the increase. Ha new small lot projects – the .01% or whatever increase in housing is not going to make a perceptible difference.

      Yes a congestion management tax is the only rational answer.

  11. Population growth. Los Angeles especially. Not going to get better unless you can figure out how to halt explosive population growth.

    Traffic snarls are a godsend for those of us who ride bikes. Much harder to kill us when they aren’t moving. I ride from Hollywood to my office in Santa Monica five days a week and I LOVE TRAFFIC. I get excited when I see SM Blvd. backed up to the ocean. Thursdays are my fave day to ride.

    I am done advocating active transportation. I want everyone to double down on cars. It makes my commute that much safer.

    • Very true. Wow. Your post has convinced me to change my stance on progressive transportation in Los Angeles.

      And everyone who I have argued with over whether or not Los Angeles is a bike friendly town: I was WRONG. Los Angeles is terrible for any transport other than cars. Always drive. Always.

  12. I can’t believe no one mentioned the stretch of the 110 between the 5 and the 101. It’s total dogshit, EVEN when it’s not baseball season. The fact that Dodger Stadium is right there is adding insult to injury.

    Another dogshit stretch of freeway: the southbound 101 between Melrose and the 110. Basically my entire commute sucks.

  13. They naysayers shall be dragged kicking and screaming into a future not unlike Spike Jonze depiction of Los Angeles in his 2013 masterpiece “Her. ” The era of the personal auto as the dominant means of transpo in LA will indeed give way to a harmonious balance of hyper efficient trains and bike lanes. Kick and scream all ye want. Father time is undefeated.


  14. hopalong chastity

    “INSTRUCT the Bureau of Engineering (BOE) ….to remove any
    street widening requirements…..for the project located at 2920-2930
    Rowena Avenue”

    This comes from Los Angeles City Council motion #14-0795 introduced by Councilmember LaBonge and passed by vote of the city council on 8/19/2014.

    This should reassure any doubters that the traffic situation on Rowena is ideal in its current state.

    We know this because LaBonge and O’Farrell have informed the City Council of
    “…. the interest by the Silverlake community in maintaining the current Rowena Avenue Road Diet…”
    as their reason for asking their fellow councilmembers to
    ..”exclude the improvements required(on the development at 2920-2930 Rowena) …”
    “…allow for no more improvement than what exists on the site today.”

    LaBonge clears up any doubt over what is best for Silver Lake in the final line of his motion –
    “I FURTHER MOVE that Planning remove any other conditions that might require further
    improvements on Rowena Avenue.”

    Maybe Councilmember LaBonge can use his last 6 months in office to find other properties under development in his district which have conditions requiring they contribute to street or sidewalk improvements and then take a motion to council to have them removed.

    This will save money for the developers and prevent them from interfering with the ideal conditions that pedestrians, bicyclists and commuters currently enjoy on our local roads and sidewalks.

  15. It’s not ” East Side” It’s Echo Park !

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