left turns are not legally recognized, or so it would seem to an outsider from say, a state that has discovered the magic of the green arrow
In Los Angeles a left turn being made by an out-of-towner goes something like this:
out-of-towner pulls up to the red light in the left-hand-turn lane:"Damn, when is this light going to turn green?" he thinks.
light turns green
out-of-towner finds, to his dismay, that instead of a friendly green-arrow granting him the right-of-way for a left turn, he has a big green circle granting him the right of way to turn left into oncoming traffic and certain death. "What the hell?????"
Out-of-towner observes the local resident driver on the opposite side of the intersection attempting to make a left turn. "Hmm, he's pulling out into the middle of the intersection....and when the light turns RED he goes! AHA!
So the trick to making a left turn in LA is this:
When the light turns green, creep out into the middle of the intersection. When the light turns red, oncoming traffic will be forced to stop (because their light is also red). This is your chance to get out of the middle of the intersection by turning left. Never mind the fact that only two cars can make a left turn during any given cycle of the lights. Never mind the fact that both cars are forced to run the red light in order to execute a left hand turn.
Los Angelinos are concerned with total traffic throughput in any given intersection and don't give a damn about starvation, evidently.
Of course other cities besides LA may have similar traffic rules...