Those of you who know me personally know that I hate driving and that I blame Los Angeles for said hatred. I honestly don’t know how anyone who has lived in Los Angeles for more than a year could possibly like it. Los Angeles traffic is like nowhere else on the planet. It defies description – only when one has actually experienced bumper-to-bumper traffic on the 405 at 1pm on a SUNDAY can the misery be truly and completely understood.
One of the many reasons I was excited to move to Dublin was that I would not need a car and would not have to drive. I was finally going to have the walkable, city-centre life that I’d coveted for so long. I knew walking in Dublin would take a little getting used to since they drive on the opposite side of the road and all that. But what I wasn’t prepared for and cannot get used to is that I think Dublin drivers are trying to run down us pedestrians.
In Dublin, pedestrians do not appear to ever have the right-of-way. Ever. Seriously, even when I am crossing at a crosswalk with a traffic light and a green walk signal I fear for my safety. Yesterday morning, I was crossing the street at an intersection after I’d looked both ways to ensure no traffic was oncoming. Now, this intersection, like many in Dublin, has no traffic lights and no stop signs. So, when a car suddenly came speeding down the street, making the left turn where I was crossing without even a glance for other cars much less pedestrians, and then blared her horn at me, I hit my tipping point. My inner New Yorker came roaring out and I yelled at her to eff off. I was this close to going full DeNiro and slapping the hood of her car while shouting “I’m walking here!”.
I think the lack of pedestrian protection over here has been hard for me to adjust to because in Los Angeles, the pedestrian always, always, always has the right-of-way. And, shocking as it may seem, the drivers of LA abide by that law – doesn’t matter if the pedestrian is walking at a cross walk or in the middle of the block, with a light or against it, cars will stop, without honking, and let the walker walk. It seems antithetical to everything else traffic and driving-related in LA but there you go. I’m not even sure why pedestrians are treated this way. Perhaps they are so rare in Los Angeles they’ve earned classification as an endangered species and have therefore been granted special protections.
I know that I live in Dublin now and therefore must adapt to how things are done over here. And honestly this is one of the few complaints I have about the city. But come on, would it kill the average Dublin driver to slow down just a wee bit and take a peak at who else might be nearby rather than making a completely blind turn at full speed? Because I seriously think it could kill me, or someone else.