Los Angeles is not a city known for walking. In fact, the opposite is true. Los Angeles is a city famous for being navigable by car and not much else. The motor vehicle dominates the transport system of this city. However, this does not come without pushback. There are many residents of this Southern California metropolis who love getting around on foot or bike.
While choosing these options is certainly possible, many safety precautions must be followed, to safely makeover these city streets as a pedestrian. Here is a handy guide on safety tips to make your walk around the City of Angels a safe and enjoyable one.
Understand That Los Angeles Is Not New York
Los Angeles vs. New York is a fun comparison game that many people enjoy playing. These are the two biggest cities in the United States and share the general characteristics shared by every large city on earth. However, once you get beyond the basics, these cities are wildly different.
One notable difference is the way people navigate the city. Many people living in New York do not own a car. They get around primarily on foot and with public transportation. In Los Angeles, on the other hand, if you don’t own a car, you are viewed as a bit of an eccentric.
Due to the driver dominance in L.A., those who do take to the street on foot often find themselves at risk. The drivers in this city feel like the road is theirs and theirs alone, and they drive like it.
In New York, drivers tend to be much more on the lookout for pedestrians. Everyone jaywalks in New York, and cars are aware that people are likely to step out in front of them at any time. As a result, drivers are typically more alert to pedestrians and constantly scan the roadside for potential crossers.
In Los Angeles, drivers are almost never expecting people to be out walking, so they often keep their attention focused straight ahead and are not checking for people. Even a marked and controlled crosswalk doesn’t assure safety in this city, and caution should be used when crossing.
Make Eye Contact
Since Los Angeles drivers are typically not focused on pedestrians, pedestrians must focus on themselves. It is vital that pedestrians always keep their eyes open for potential hazards when walking along an L.A. street. Jaywalking is illegal and highly discouraged in Los Angeles. While it is best to avoid crossing in the middle of the road, some people are sure to do it anyway.
If you feel that you must jaywalk for some reason, make sure to keep your wits about you. Don’t stare at your phone with your earphones on as you cross the street. Keep your eyes scanning the road and your ears open, so that you are alerted to any car that might be coming your way.
The best bet when crossing a street is to use a crosswalk controlled by a stoplight or stop sign. However, these intersections tend to be few and far between in many parts of the city. Walking half a mile down the road and then half a mile back when you want to get to the shop across the street from you is a bit ridiculous.
Instead of going so far out of your way, you should probably cross at the corner. One thing that many drivers seem to be ignorant of is that every corner is technically a crosswalk. People often think that white stripes are necessary for a crosswalk to exist. However, the truth is that anytime you are crossing from one corner to another, you are using a crosswalk.
Wherever you do decide to cross the road, precaution is still the name of the game. Even if you are in a controlled intersection, you should never assume that the driver will come to a full stop. Make eye contact with the driver of the car before you step out into the road. Make sure that they see you and that they are slowing down. Then you can begin to cross.
Even after the first car has come to a stop, however, you still need to be on alert. Just because one car has stopped doesn’t mean all others will. Keep your eyes peeled, and make sure to make eye contact with any other drivers that approach as you cross.
Walk on the Sidewalk
Whenever there is a sidewalk available, use it. Walking in the road is just asking for trouble, especially in Los Angeles. If there are no sidewalks and you must walk in the street, walk on the left-hand side. You want to be facing oncoming traffic so that you can react if a driver seems to be driving erratically. If you travel on the right side of the road, you may not realize that a driver is driving dangerously, until they hit you with their vehicle.
Head-Up, Headphones Down
While you are walking along the sidewalk, you should be safe from L.A. drivers. You can have your head buried in your phone and your headphones bursting your eardrums without any real worry about being victimized by a vehicle. If a driver comes up onto the sidewalk and hits you, the driver is clearly at fault. You can’t be expected to be on the lookout for this type of situation.
However, you should increase your alertness level when you reach the street corner, both before and during the crossing. Lift your head up from your phone and turn the volume down on your headphones. However, whether you are on the lookout or not, if you are obeying the rules of the road and get hit by a passing vehicle, the fault is theirs. Talk to an experienced auto accident lawyer in Los Angeles to discuss your options.
Use Extra Caution on Your Late Night Stroll
Avoiding walking at night is always a good choice. After dark, you are less visible, and drivers are more likely to be intoxicated. However, the romance of the late-night stroll can be hard to pass up. If you are tempted by a walk after the sun goes down, be sure to take extra precautions. Reflective clothing can help make you more visible. Whether you wear reflective clothing or not, be sure to increase your safety measures by 100%.
Walking in Los Angeles can be a beautiful experience as long as you do it right. People are advocating for more measures to make the streets of this city safer for pedestrians. However, ultimately your safety is up to you. Regulations can only go so far, but you can get the rest of the way to safety by adopting safe walking practices.
About the Author
Maureen Lunde is a law school graduate and former practicing attorney. She is also a part-time freelance blogger laser-focused on difficult parenting topics, social media, and educating the public on fighting for their rights. You can find her insights on various legal blogs, parenting websites and works as a collaborative editor for Jacoby & Meyers lawyers.