As New Wave band Missing Persons keenly observed in their 1982 hit song: Nobody walks in L.A. Three decades later, it still rings true.
In Nightcrawler, now in theaters, Jake Gyllenhaal demonstrates why L.A. is a pedestrian-unfriendly town, crisscrossing the city’s great expanses as freelance reporter Lou Bloom, always on the hunt for a fresh crime story. The movie is very carefully mapped, with the help of production designer Kevin Kavanaugh. Like many longtime, road-savvy Angelenos, Kavanaugh relies on well-honed instincts to maneuver around L.A., saying he has no need for his car’s GPS or the crowd-sourced traffic app Waze.
Here are a half-dozen L.A. driving tips from the Nightcrawler navigator:
1. Steer clear of two lanes.
Even though two-lane roads, like Fountain Avenue, can be quick at times, it’s best to avoid getting trapped on them during rush hour.
2. Find those boulevards.
If the 405 or the 110 is packed solid, bail and take one of L.A.’s many straight, multi-lane boulevards, like Rosecrans, El Segundo, and Crenshaw. “You can really just cruise through a great distance of L.A. taking those boulevards,” Kavanaugh tells Yahoo Movies.
3. Whiz by left-turners.
Seek roads with turn lanes in them so you’re not stuck behind people turning left.
4. Ride the old highways.
Imperial Highway, which cuts across the south part of L.A., is a road less traveled, Kavanaugh points out. “Some of those older highways, like the 2 — the 2’s a good one,” he says.
5. Seek out secret passageways.
Even though it’s two lanes, Kavanaugh approves of our suggested Willoughby Avenue — a street that has helped locals in the know avoid jams in tourist-packed Hollywood. Yes, there are more streets like this in L.A., but we’re not at liberty to tell you what they are!
6. Wait until sunset.
The streets tend to clear once the day is done. Those bigger boulevards open up “as soon as the sun goes down,” says Kavanaugh. At night, these multi-lane thoroughfares are a great alternative to congested L.A. freeways because, as the Nightcrawler production designer points out, “all the lights are timed [to keep drivers moving].”