StreetFilms: L.A. Scramble

Another excellent film from StreetFilms, and another scramble—similar to the one in Toronto we mentioned last week—but this time in Los Angeles.

Scrambles are cool, but take a close listen to LADOT’s Glenn Ogura as he makes a Freudian slip at 00:50. Did you catch it? He says “… to separate pedestrians and bicycles from the vehicles and make it a safer intersection.” I’m all for separating bicycles from automobiles where possible, but I’m not big on the idea of classifying bicycles as something other than vehicles.

[via StreetFilms]

7 Responses to “StreetFilms: L.A. Scramble”

  • David Hembrow says:

    Really, it’s just language. He didn’t say “less than”, and could have meant “more than”.

    We have junctions like this over here for bicycles instead of for pedestrians. That only really works if we’re separated from other vehicles. Is it a problem for cyclists ? No, not at all. We get two greens in the time that motorists get one green. Cycling journeys are quicker due to the separation. “more than” instead of “less than”.

    There are dozens of these junctions near here, but I’ve two videos of the same junction in action at this address:

  • Alan says:

    “Really, it’s just language. He didn’t say “less than”, and could have meant “more than”.”

    The fact that bicycles are allowed to cross on the pedestrian cycle, not the auto cycle, demonstrates that LADOT, whether consciously or not, considers bicycle riders more akin to pedestrians than vehicles.

  • David Hembrow says:

    Surely they’re also allowing cycles to cross with motorized vehicles. That’s “more than” either the pedestrians or the drivers get, and gives you higher priority.

    Let’s face it, bicycles are not motor vehicles and cyclists are not pedestrians either. I don’t believe any cyclists really want to be treated as if they’re in motor vehicles all the time. You really don’t want to have to pay to park your bike in a high-rise car park, for instance.

    Cyclists often benefit from being treated different from motor vehicles. The direct cycling from many areas of housing here (including our own) to the centre of the city is both more direct and more pleasant than the driving route. We have a minimum of two sets of traffic lights to go through by car, but none by bike.

    Why not see this scramble as offering an opportunity for cyclists to make quicker journeys ?

  • Alan says:


    “Why not see this scramble as offering an opportunity for cyclists to make quicker journeys ?”

    That sounds reasonable.

    The concern here, which is probably difficult for you to relate to in the Netherlands, is that there are many who feel bicycles are toys for children and should be banned from roads altogether. The problem is that we don’t have a well-developed bicycle infrastructure, so it’s imperative that we maintain full rights to the road, equal to those given to automobiles. That makes us sensitive to remarks such as the one referenced above, coming from someone like a planner at LADOT.

  • David Hembrow says:

    Alan, I do understand exactly what you mean. The situation is the same in the UK, where I lived most of my life, and cyclists are sensitive there in just the same way. I was too.

    The UK also shares with the US the anti-cyclist rants in letters pages of newspapers and other characteristics of a mostly non-cycling nation, which you never see over here.

    However, I feel there is a tendency for cyclists in English speaking countries to think that the roads are the gold plated standard that cyclists should aim for, when actually you can do better than the roads. In my view it’s necessary to “keep your eyes on the prize,” which presumably is more cyclists doing more cycling in more safety, and not worry too much about semantics. Most people don’t analyse their own use of language to that extent.

  • Erik Sandblom says:

    David, thanks for that post about the cycle-scramble. It illustrates that while pedestrians and cyclists can regulate themselves, motor vehicles need clunky traffic lights to avoid traffic jams and collisions.

    And that in turn illustrates how cycles are so much smarter than average traffic engineers. A bicycle may be a vehicle, but that’s not the relevant question to ask. Bicycles are a class of their own: almost as fast as a car, and almost as flexible and self-regulating as pedestrians.

  • Iain Park says:

    In Scotland, it is common for pedestrians to cross junctions diagonally, particularly at the larger city centre junctions. At the crossing point in the middle of the junction this requires a bit of a ‘jig’ for people to skirt round each other. Adding cyclists to the mix seems to increase the likelihood of collisions – granted junctions in North America will be bigger and have more space to accommodate all users. There is an interesting bit of the film just before Glenn Ogura does his first piece to camera where a cyclist ‘cuts up’ a pedestrian who has just crossed the junction. It seems to me that this is great idea for keeping cyclists out of the way of cars but in the long term would not be very good for either pedestrians or cyclists. It does nothing to deal with the problem of drivers learning to drive safely with cyclists about.

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