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How Many Cars are in Los Angeles? Imagine if They All Try To Leave At Once.

How Many Cars are in Los Angeles? Imagine if They All Try To Leave At Once.

How many cars are in Los Angeles and is it even remotely possible to consider an evacuation of LA county or even the City of LA? 

The Camp fire that roared through Paradise, California was an eye opener on what happens when an evacuation doesn't go as planned. There have been evacuations of parts of LA, but what would happen if there was a devastating earthquake or some other event that impacted the entire county or made just the city uninhabitable?

Our conclusion: Be prepared to shelter in place. If you insist on hitting the road, have at least one GO-bag that you can leave with in case you need to abandon your car.

Following are some of the statistics and thoughts that lead us to this conclusion:

  • There are 9.8 million people in LA County (2010 Census)
  • There are 4,751 square miles in LA County
  • Every day, there are 220 million vehicle miles travelled in LA County
  • There are 3.7 million people in the City of Los Angeles (2010 Census)
  • There are 503 square miles in the City of Los Angeles
  • Every day, there are 45 million miles travelled in the City of Los Angeles
  • There are 7.8 million vehicles registered in LA County
  • There are 6.6 million drivers licenses issued
  • Every day, 471,000 workers commute into LA County from other counties
  • Every day, 3.9 million workers commute by car or carpool, 82% of the workforce

Quick "back of the envelope" calculations:

  • The City of LA has 5 times the population density as the rest of LA County
  • LA County, not including the City of LA, has 1,435 people per square mile
  • The City of LA has 7,355 people per square mile
  • You could expect twice the number of commuting cars to get on the road if all residents tried to evacuate. 

Issues that exacerbate a failed evacuation:

  • Running out of fuel
  • Every day breakdowns
  • Impassable roads, especially main arteries

Realities of the City of LA and LA County

  • There's a tipping point when everything just seizes up, twice the number of cars on the road traveling a longer distance fail.
  • Mass transit is not an option, the mass transit infrastructure currently only handles 6% of the commuting population.
Back to our conclusion, be prepared to shelter in place. What you need to shelter in place includes water, food, medicine, prescriptions, sanitation, communication, electrical generation, a way to keep clean (antibacterial wipes, etc). Have a look at a previous post for some more ideas.



Photo by Brodie Vissers from Burst