Cars and scooters might pass mere inches away from your bicycle, but they do so with vigilance and mutual acknowledgement that the slightest mishap might result in a 20 person pile-up.
Is it a colossally disorganized system? Sure. But a cyclist could wade into the frenzy with relaxation, knowing that he or she was a recognized player in the fight.
That is what is missing in Los Angeles.
Critics can point out that there are more bicycle fatalities in cities like New Delhi, which last year had 78 to L.A. County’s 39, but this is only because cyclists represent far more of the commuters there.
On a per capita basis in the U.S., Los Angeles earns no accolades for bicycle safety: 3 percent of the city’s road accident fatalities are cyclists, nearly double the national figure of 1.7 precent.
With numbers like those, it’s no wonder why so few are cycling to work in L.A. But the irony is that while many people are afraid to cycle here because it is dangerous, it is the very lack of cyclists that makes drivers more apt to ignore them.
The city’s efforts to build more bike lanes are a step in right direction, led by such bicycling advocacy groups as Wolfpack Hustle, Critical Mass, Midnight Ridazz and CicLAvia — and spurred in part by a 2010 incident when a hit-and-run cabbie struck then-Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on Venice Boulevard, breaking his elbow.
But the challenges that Los Angeles-area cyclists face are more a P.R. issue than a lack of critical infrastructure.
Perhaps fewer motorists in L.A. would swear at cyclists if they realized, even with the present risks, that it’s still more fun to ride a bike to work than be stuck sucking the exhaust fumes of other cars at traffic lights.