The Way of the Armadillo

Well, I’m going to try to get through an entire column without writing NELA’s dreaded C-word…you know, the one that rhymes with “armadillo.”

For those of you not from Texas, let me explain what an armadillo is: it’s a thick-skinned, dull-witted beast whose only recourse when confronted by uncertainty is to roll up into an inert ball and hope its plate-like hide will protect it from whatever it fears. Even when there’s nothing to fear.

Or when it fears the wrong thing. Here in NELA, the real predator is the Speeding Motorist, sinking its fangs into residents, visitors, and businesses alike. Hordes of theses bloodthirsty fiends have been prowling North Figueroa for years, leaving literal blood on the streets and scaring away the street life that York Boulevard has been enjoying since the road diet tamed the animals. Other streets in the region have also undergone their own renaissances, including Spring Street downtown, Abbott Kinney in Venice Beach, and Main in Santa Monica, all by simply slowing down speeders and making room for cyclists, walkers, and humanity in general.

Meanwhile, the numbers for North Fig are grim, as this graphic shows:

And that’s for just one year, 2009. The long-term trend is no better:

The astounding incident just last week, when a speeding SUV flipped nearly in front of the local council office, shows that the beasts will even eat themselves, if no other prey is available.

So it seems to me that our armadillo is truly afraid of the wrong things. In “protecting” us from road diets, he’s insisting we all follow the way of fear itself when confronted with something new and better, and just curl up with our heads up our behinds, hoping no one will bite.

Those of you who are from Texas know better, though. The tarmac there is paved with flattened armadillos, who were protecting themselves the wrong way, against the wrong threat. We’ll all be roadkill, if we follow suit.

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