So. I’ve found a new route to work. It’s lovely. From my house in Silver Lake to the office in Jefferson Park, the only major street I traverse is Adams Boulevard and it, having been recently put on a serious road diet, now sports a fantastic new buffered bike lane.
For those of you who geek out about bike routes, here it is charted:
It’s literally eight-plus miles of easy cruising joy. Not that it is devoid of vehicles (and with them the inevitable percentage of inconsiderate and/or inattentive motorists), but its long stretches of residential two-lane thoroughfares, anchored in the middle east/west by 11th Street and north/south by 6th Avenue, give the route a small-town feel.
Having sung those praises, an incident on Wednesday morning’s ride brought back the reality that no matter how near-perfect the journey, Los Angeles streets are always going to find a way to remind us just how marginalized we pedaling folk continue to be.
Case in point, my stop Wednesday morning at Country Club Drive and Arlington Avenue — all gloriously documented via my don’t-ride-without-it helmetcam.
Allow me to annotate the video. As shown, I am stopped on Country Club Drive at Arlington Avenue. I’ve even parked myself directly over one of the circular below-asphalt sensors in hopes it will detect my bike. Fat chance. Worse, there are no vehicles waiting with me and those across the street are making rights to head south on Arlington. In short, from the sensors’ point of view, it’s as if I don’t exist.
A few seconds in, you’ll see the crosswalk signal start blinking and counting down. You’ll see the green lights for Arlington turn yellow, and then red. I start to go, but I see the signals across the street from me have stayed red. And when I turn and look at the light on Arlington it’s gone back to green and the cross traffic proceeds. In my highest-pitched indignation voice you’ll hear me screech “What!!?”
In the height of irony (though unseen in the clip), I even got a possibly sympathetic “oh well” arm wave from the driver of the white pickup who saw the whole rip-off unfold. At least I wasn’t completely invisible.
But still, here in Los Angeles, cars rule, everything else drools. Just the idea that the signaling mechanism will take some sort of mulligan is offensive. If the sequence starts it should continue, not about-face to possible dangerous consequences. What if I hadn’t been paying so close attention and just slowly rolled on into the intersection with the presumed right-of-way?
The clip ends with me understanding all too clearly that really my only option to prevent a potential repeat would be to dismount my bike, tromp on over to the blasted, cursed, infernal pedestrian beg button and press it. As you’ll see, boy do I. Hi-yah!