We all know that going cross-country isn’t for the faint-hearted. But when you have to follow a clogged road all the way across a sprawling city’s winding streets – just to exercise in the first place? Well, that sounds just plain stupid, isn’t it?
Gizmodo reader Loyd Evans comes to mind. He recently experienced this particular health hazard when on a six-hour trek up the Pacific Crest Trail by bike, in the middle of the night. Loyd had done other long bike trips on trails in San Diego, but decided to take his first trip into Los Angeles on New Year’s Eve. The result: a traffic light that turns red 24/7 — even when nobody’s there.
First of all, guys like Loyd will be out of gas much faster than you’ll ever be. Halfway up the canyons of I-5, where the lights are red for eight kilometres, Loyd reached a low point of less than five miles per hour. At this point, both motor cars and people passing by on bikes tend to speed up, and the lights remain red. And since it’s New Year’s Eve, it’s considered that the city is closed by the time you reach this point. So who actually stops to wait for you to pass? Who waits on the next crossroad in the hopes that you’ll decide to turn around, and not die? Who doesn’t skip a beat when the light starts turning red? Who keeps on following the red light? And who keeps putting up with the confused stares of the cyclists who suddenly step onto the road? And who does not comply, which is basically the everyone but me scenario.
“We expected that there might be somebody in the hills,” Loyd told Gizmodo. “Even the police would not have the nerve to ride up there on the dirt road.” As traffic speeds up you can actually see the police bikes speeding up to pass them, but they never stop to help.
The individual who turned Loyd onto the trail, which meant he was unable to see a road sign and never moved to the next one, only ignored the lights until Loyd reached the end of the journey at an intersection where the lights actually made sense — some of them at the other end of the city. Loyd sees the red lights as a symbol of the way society manages mobility in general.
“This is a way of taking away people’s transportation to avoid long drives by ferrying people from Point A to Point B in a matter of seconds,” Loyd told Gizmodo. “Just like the way they pass health inspections by travelling from Point A to Point B in a manner that makes it impossible for those who are not on the fast track to get on the ferry. It’s to prevent people from dying in that fast-moving car.”
To add insult to injury, this signal only goes green when there are extra vehicles on the road. “That way, people in the mountains get to have the beautiful green light for about 5 minutes so they can kill some bugs with the headlights,” Loyd joked.
That makes it even more infuriating to begin with, and it’s not uncommon to find evidence of highway abuse — like dogs running off the road or big trucks hauling huge loads of detritus — sprinkled about the area. Loyd even found two new gaps in the fence in the hills for dead deer in an area he knows to be dangerous.
Loyd found a disheartening amount of and callous indifference at people’s places of business.
“My guess is that people who live above the road have no intention of stopping,” Loyd told Gizmodo. “People crossing have no intention of stopping. If the snow workers stop to help out, no one stops.”
“Probably the biggest problem is that if they actually knew people were being endangered by this situation they wouldn’t do nothing because they’ve been trained not to.”
And what’s worse than the fact that none of the other people who stopped or came by to talk about Loyd’s quest offered to help? We’re talking dead deer. Literally dead deer. I only ran this past a few area news outlets, but someone on the (somewhat pro-active) Board of Animal Control eventually heard about Loyd’s story and came out to check on his well-being. Unfortunately, he’s doing okay. Thanks to their intervention and his kayaking training, Loyd says, he’s able to ride