Video: Guy Tries To Prove You Can Still Hitchhike In Los Angeles
While Uber and Lyft have made hopping into a stranger's car totally normal in L.A., one intrepid guy tried the old-fashioned version of a ride-sharing app: hitchhiking.
Some may call it antiquated—a leftover from the glory days of Route 66—while others might consider it unsafe, but in his video Hitchhiking in Los Angeles | Social Experiment, YouTube user Avilench set out to see if people would actually pick him up if he tried hitching a ride around town. And while he's not surprisingly shot down—or just ignored—by many drivers, he ultimately has some success, and along the way shares his tips on hitchhiking protocol in L.A.
Maybe it's the ocean breezes—the video is shot around Santa Monica—today's widespread use of ride-sharing apps or just his casual approach and some good editing, but Avilench has pretty good luck. His directions are also pretty vague and appropriately laid back, which may help his cause—asking if he can get a ride a few blocks towards the beach or in one case "that way in general." Sure, he's ignored by many and denied by one couple after the guy says, "I actually don't have much room in the car," while the female passenger insists, "No, no, I'm sorry, no, no." But he manages to actually get rides from at least seven people who seem totally cool with picking up a stranger.
Avilench finds that the traditional move of sticking your thumb out doesn't work quite as well as these days, and advises, "If you actually want to get a ride, you're going to have to actually get out there and knock on people's windows." He also suggests that potential hitchhikers should, "Look for guys who are maybe by themselves in a beat-up-looking car and they're going to be the people who are most receptive to you." We can't say for certain whether this would be the best advice for everyone though.
LAist reached out to Avilench to see if he had any more pearls of hitchhiking wisdom—and also to find out if the video may actually be part of a staged prank—but we haven't heard back from him yet. We also can't necessarily vouch for his other YouTube videos, which include How To Get Into Night Clubs For Free and Most Effective Treatments To Beat Chronic Lyme Disease.
Back in 2008—a year before Uber was founded—L.A. Times reporter Steve Lopez attempted another hitchhiking experiment, but he completely struck out both in Santa Monica and downtown L.A. in front of City Hall. He did finally have luck with a cardboard sign near the carpool lane of the southbound 405 near Ventura Boulevard.
Lopez also discovered that Section 21957 of the California vehicle code states, "No person shall stand in a roadway for the purpose of soliciting a ride from the driver of any vehicle." Though, to be fair, he was on the sidewalk.
In that case, maybe Avilench should be thankful that the Santa Monica Police patrol car ignored him when he asked for a ride in the video.