64 Worst: Left Turn Signals Vs. Parking At Trader Joes


So far many of these “64 worst things about LA” posts have been about something that sucks, well I’ve got two things that are awesome, unfortunately we we don’t have nearly enough of them. Left turn signals and parking spots at Trader Joes.

A little over a year ago I was asked by The LA Times what the biggest problem facing LA in 2007 would be and obviously my answer was the city’s bias against people turning left and sadly the situation isn’t much better today. We’ve got major streets and major intersections all over the city but in most cases it’s easier to shoot past the street you want to turn left at and then make 3 right turns rather than sit at a light for what will certainly be hours trying to make a signalless left turn. Who was it who decided that these things weren’t important for LA when all the stop lights were being put in? They are all over the rest of the world in ample supply, but in LA not so much. I know people who purposely map out every single trip across town so that they never have to turn left just because it’s such a nightmare. True story.

But no tale of the haves and the have nots would be complete without talking about the parking that Trader Joes does not have. This is truly a Los Angeles paradox because everything inside the store makes you want to go, but everything outside makes you want to run screaming away. The problem wouldn’t be so major if the food Trader Joes sold wasn’t so damn tasty and inexpensive. Every time I go there I’m amazed at what I was able to pick up, but going there requires massive planning and scheduling to make sure that the least possible other people in LA might be there at the same time. And it’s not just that there aren’t enough spots – lots of places in LA have fewer parking spots than they should, but Trader Joes goes a step further by introducing the bottleneck. It’s almost as if they were designed that way on purpose, but getting into the lots to begin with is next to impossible, and then getting out.. well lets just say I advise against buying frozen perishable items if you drive there.

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11 thoughts on “64 Worst: Left Turn Signals Vs. Parking At Trader Joes”

  1. I have the same complaint here in Dallas, but have been told that local merchants have city planners in their pocket ( via the taxation imposed by the city cousin ) and a lack for left turn lanes is intentional.

    The longer you have to sit there in traffic, the more time merchants have to make you read their window displays and signs. Hundreds of thousands of signatures get collected on petitions demanding traffic congestion be address only to die in commity. The worse the congestion, the more free street level merchant advertising. Corruption FTW or from the merchant point of view “YOUR ATTENTION, I HAZ IT.”

  2. The lack of left turn signals, or protected lefts as I learned to call them from prior places I lived in are a killer. Literally. Close to a third of the so called “head on” fatalities I handled are out of people making left turns. Simple view but speed and misunderstanding that left’s yield to oncoming traffic as outlined in VC 21801 tends to be the biggest problem.

  3. I think for those of us who don’t shop at Trader Joe’s, this is pretty much a given.

    And, even those who do shop there… I’m sure you must have to make a nasty left somewhere along your route. Maybe not though.

    By the way… do you say rOOt or rOWt when it comes to “route”?

  4. This one was really hard, but in the end I went with left turn signals because they make it harder for me to get to Trader Joe’s AND EVERYWHERE ELSE. My husband’s secret to parking at TJ’s is to ride a Vespa. If enough readers get Vespas, we can start a gang!

  5. Dude, don’t laugh! The other day we passed about a hundred guys on assorted types of scooters, and they looked tougher than any motorcycle gang I’ve ever come across. And organized! They had hand signals and everything.

  6. I want a Vespa, but my fiancé claims I will die if I get one. Two bicycling accidents and people get all paranoid.

    I remember when I turned 16 and my first car, I didn’t know that you had to yield when making a left turn. I would just turn and everyone would honk and yell. I thought people sure are angry when they drive. Then one day I had my friends in the car and as I turned left everyone started screaming and yelling at me, that’s the first time I realized just because I was in the car that I didn’t always had the right of way. I don’t know exactly how I missed this in driver training or how I got 100% on the written test, but the driving test I took at the Covina DMV (or somewhere out that way,) because I had heard they didn’t make you get on the freeway in Covina unlike Hollywood, I think I barely passed and the instructor was like I’m just giving this to you, because you are nice, but please be careful. Crying is an effective tool in passing a botched driving test.

    I remember in college I got on the 110 Freeway on accident in downtown and I backed off the entrance…I think I made an excellent decision to stay off the road via being behind the wheel of a car.

    I guess now since I don’t drive I would have to say Trader Joe’s parking lot, because of the former cross walk of death at TJ Silver Lake. I’ve almost got hit by too many people owing to the design of that Trader Joes, so for me TJ is the most dangerous, because even though I don’t drive the existence of that parking lot has almost ended my life on several occasions.


  7. This was a close call, but after living here for 16 months, I am still astounded at the lack of left turn signals. I once spent so long in the left turn lane on Montana to Barrington that I had to give up, causing big disappointment to the retriever in my backseat who was wondering why we weren’t going to Barrington Dog Park. Left turn signals have probably been around since the days of the Dusenberg, and are part of Traffic Planning 101. Dumb dumb dumb L.A.!

  8. my main trader joes is in burbank (solely because that’s where i work) and i utilize the left turn lane signal (thank you evil city of burbank) to get there. the monday night parking lot at TJ’s is CA-RAZY but all other times are somewhat manageable. the los feliz TJ’s has something that i’m not allowed to speak of in public so that’s not so bad, the glendale TJ’s is generally OK and i plan most driving routes for not having to make left hand turns so i guess i can’t vote for this one. is there an “all of the above” category?

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