Is LA Suffering an Outbreak of the Crazies?

I’ve lived and ridden in LA for over a decade. In that time, I’ve seen some messed up driving and survived plenty of threats on my life.  (some perceived and some real). I’ve even grown pretty confident on my bicycle in the 5 months I’ve been riding. But the past couple days I’ve seen some seriously crazy shit. And it’s not even a full moon. What is going on?

Last night I rode my bicycle from downtown to Hollywood and back. I had 2 cars almost run stop signs into me. Then a minivan pulled into the oncoming lane to pick his friend up at the corner just as I was turning the same corner. I discovered I can lock the wheels on my bicycle very easily without crashing. two wheel slide! wootwoot! But just the same it scared the hell out of me.  That kid’s parents will be getting a nasty letter from me courtesy of the DMV’s letter forwarding system if I can find the link on their new website. Although I fear that budget cuts may have led them to discontinue that service.

This afternoon I saw someone do the most bonehead crash, like they were too stoned to even realize where they were. It made no sense. They were sitting in a major intersection long after the light had changed then set out to drive forward, then turned left as they realized cross traffic was barreling toward them, and clipped a car in the process. On Tuesday I saw a pedestrian get hit by a truck turning left into his path, like he was invisible. Only it was broad daylight.

Then tonight, traffic stopped rather suddenly on the 110, and as I got closer, I saw that a very large, very terrified dog was sitting in the center lane kinda foaming at the mouth. He was wearing a leash and clearly stunned. All lanes of traffic were stopped, as none of us wanted to hit the poor guy if he made a run for it. A guy jumped out of a car pulled onto the dirt and frantically ran to get the dog. He ran back to the car with the dog limping along behind him. I felt so bad for the dog, feeling so much compassion for the poor confused, hurt dog. It made no sense. Why would a dog jump out of a car? The car’s windows were up, so perhaps the dog had broken free from its walker and wandered onto the freeway, and this guy just happened to be the one to get out of his car and rescue it. It was near an exit.

When I first moved from New York City, I was nervous riding in LA. NYC has a flow. Most of the streets are one way (and people remember this, unlike in DTLA). Plus most of the drivers are pros- taxis, trucks, etc. They do it all day, every day, and are very predictable. You can get into the flow and just ride smoothly & quickly without drama. Friends I raced with told me if I were half as fast on the track as I was in the city I’d be winning races. I get nervous around faster vehicles, but I see slower vehicles more as rolling chicanes. However in LA, traffic is much less predictable. It took me a long time to find the flow here. And even then, I think it’s partly because I exercise more caution here. I can’t assume someone will stop at a red light, because on the streets I take every day, many don’t.

I don’t know what’s causing all these crashes to unfold in front of me, but they are giving me pause, making me look even more and think about all the ways in which someone might hit me. Sigh. I just want to ride up and down the LA River bike path.