Every city you move to is purported to have the “worst drivers… E-VAH!” Having lived in more than a few cities, though, I’ve decided (no matter what your loyalties are) that there are terrible drivers everywhere, in every city, at every possible moment; all combining to form a veritable blanket of bad-merging, no stopping, cut-offing, speed-demoning, swervy-swerving, jive-talking auto-jockeys that covers the United States, nay, the World. Every place has it’s quirks, though, and your not being used to them manifests itself as a general impression that the drivers here are worse than the ones there.

In the Bay Area, the quirks were “inability to merge onto freeway” and “mean average highway speed of 85mph”. In L.A., one is “the running of red lights”.

In a perfect world, those wanting to make a left turn through an intersection calmly wait for the light to turn yellow; at which point the oncoming traffic quickly comes to a stop, and 3-5 cars can make their left turns while the light remains yellow. Not so in the City of Angels. The City of Angels has the 405, that slow to non-moving snake who’s dampening effects spread to all corners of the valley. Everyone has a sense of urgency all the time. If you don’t make this light, you may never make another! So, in our little scenario, instead of the oncoming traffic coming to a dutiful stop, they instead legally pass through until the last possible moment, and then throw in a few red light runners for good measure. This leaves the people waiting to turn left with an interesting dilemma. There are at least one, sometimes two, people that can legally pass through the intersection despite the light being red; they having already fully entered the intersection before the light change as they waited for an opening. And that’s usually as far as it goes, one to two people can make the turn per light; which makes turning left in Los Angeles a maddening experience.

Yesterday, however, I saw an amazing display of civil disobedience. In this particular case, I was on the oncoming side of the intersection waiting to turn right, while watching our heroes turn left in front of me. This time, they had the advantage of their own left-turn arrow (the only real way to make that elusive L.A. left). Eventually, my light turned green, which by necessity meant that their light had turned red. Did I accelerate and drive upon my merry way? I did not. Why? Because a full SIX cars kept coming through the intersection after their light turned red! Six cars!

Impressive, my friend… most impressive.

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