Culture

Los Angeles and New York differ in one big way: Knowing how to cross the street

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I have a random bit for today.

Just this past week, someone was talking about how much they hated San Francisco. Having lived in the Bay Area three times and having left it three times, I get what there is to not like about San Francisco. Gentrification is absurdly out of control there.  The weather is not great. Hey, Mark Twain said it first! Diversity is sorely lacking. So, there are issues with San Francisco. However, I do find it to be a beautiful city.  Which is why I was shocked to hear someone state that they found San Francisco to be ugly. Further, they then noted that if you dislike San Francisco you will also dislike New York City since they are so similar. I nearly lost my mind. In no way, are NYC and San Francisco similar other than both being cities on a coast. There is also an art scene in both, But lets be real, they are very different cities. This person was comparing the two to differentiate them from Los Angeles. Makes no sense. Los Angeles and New York City are much more similar to each other. At least in my view.  I suppose this is all relative.

 

Both cities are gritty and glamorous simultaneously. Both have large Hispanic populations. Both have fabulous restaurants. Los Angeles has Venice Beach, New York has Coney Island. Both have major airports. And the similarities go on and on.   As a New Yorker I feel comfortable in Los Angeles. Although, there is one major difference that drives me crazy.

In New York, the second you leave the womb you learn to walk the city streets. Meaning you learn to jay walk. You do not stand at the corner dutifully waiting for the light to change. If there are no cars coming, you go regardless of the traffic light. If there are cars coming but they are far away. You go as well. If there are cars coming, but you can run across quickly, you go. You learn to gauge jay walking opportunities within a New York second.  Your eyes dart ahead and catch if the light is about to change. You are always on the go.

In San Francisco it is rare to see jaywalkers.  I once got admonished by a cop for doing so.

In Los Angeles, they don’t tend to jaywalk but there are those that try. More so than in San Francisco. And it makes me laugh.  They don’t know quite when to get going.  They don’t gauge space quite well. They look a bit nervous when doing it. I give them credit for trying. I know that sounds weird. But I am a New Yorker.  Its not even considered jay walking in New York. You are just moving and going about your business getting from point A to point B. In Los Angeles, it is most definitely considered jay walking but there are those that are willing to give it a try.

 

Here is the thing, because so many people drive here, there is less walking experience. The people you see walking here are often looking at their cell phones while they have headphones on. Yes, they walk completely unaware of their environment. Also, because so many people drive here and drive badly, one should be rightly so scared of walking here. Drivers are not used to seeing that many people walking. In New York, you learn to consider people part of the obstacle course.  I admit I miss in part that walking, adrenaline rush from NYC.

 

Perhaps one day, Los Angeles will have more people walking the streets who will have left their cars behind. I don’t see it happening anytime soon. But it may come to be.   Till then, lets give them some latitude when walking.

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Thank you for humoring me in my stream of consciousnesses.

8 replies »

  1. I have co-workers who have been given tickets for jaywalking. I guess cops (and even those in purple uniform), they aren’t used to the idea of people randomly darting un and out of traffic.

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  2. So true about the difference between New York and Los Angeles pedestrians! Another thing an out-of-town friend pointed out: in NY we often cross on the diagonal. You don’t cross the street in a straight line, but rather in the direction you’re going once you get to the other side. So funny!

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  3. We are law-abiding here in Melbourne. No crossing on the red!
    Of great delight is when there is an utter stand off, whereby traffic lights come into sequence to provide red lights all around.
    Pedestrians look like lost sheep wanting a dog to direct them. Drivers are edgy and look ready to hit the race start. All very amusing.
    I trust next visit to Melb., you will follow the law Mimi!B

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  4. You’re so right – in NY you can keep walking with your thoughts and stride not being broken at every crossroads, in LA you have to stop at every intersection and wait to cross because everyone else is.

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