Posted on December 5th, 2015
A couple months ago, my corner of Redneckistan got a roundabout... better known as a rotary (if you live in New England) or perhaps a traffic circle (if you live in other places). Basically, it's an intersection without stops. Everybody yields to traffic within the circle, and enters once it's clear to do so... exiting at the point they need to be.
Ours is a three-way and looks like this...
Which actually makes it seem more complicated than it really is. The concept itself is quite simple. All you have to do is yield to the traffic already in the circle, then enter when it's safe to do so.
I actually rather like roundabouts. I've used them quite a lot back East and they're everywhere in Europe. Once you get used to them, they're pretty awesome... keeping traffic moving efficiently without the need for stopping when you don't have to.
Roundabouts are most effective when you keep two things in mind...
1) They can only be used where pedestrian traffic is at a minimum or non-existent. They idea is to keep traffic moving, and you can't do that when cars are constantly having to stop for people wanting to cross the street.
2) They need to be kept clear of obstructing traffic. Again, you can't keep traffic moving if there's a cross-street nearby... or a train crossing... or a turnout... or a place traffic is entering... or anything else that's going to cause drivers to have to stop, thus blocking traffic.
And can you guess what we have at our roundabout?
That's right, both of those things.
1) It's inarguably the first (maybe second) busiest pedestrian intersection in the entire city. At the top of the circle is the only bank in town where most everybody does their banking. To the south is downtown (or what's left of it) which is where everybody shops. That means you get pretty heavy pedestrian traffic as people are wanting to cross at all three exit points on the circle on a fairly regular basis, thus trapping drivers inside and backing things up.
2) As if that weren't a good enough reason to not put a roundabout in the middle of town, the fact that there's a fucking RAILROAD CROSSING 350 ft. to the left of the circle would do it. There's also the exit from the bank parking lot on the left... not to mention the entrance to the bank's drive-through on the right side.
So, essentially, traffic gets a little fucked up all day long because of pedestrians wanting to cross.
And traffic gets totally fucked up several times a day when a train blows through town. I can't tell you how many times things have been backed up so badly that I've actually reversed course and went out on the highway to get home because it's faster than trying to wade through the utter disaster going on at the roundabout.
But fucking traffic armageddon is not even the worst of it.
People here simply don't know how a roundabout even works.
They either come to a full stop when they shouldn't because the circle is completely clear or... much worse... don't fucking yield when you're in the circle trying to get through it. I've been nearly-nailed more times than I can count. And the people who almost ran into me as I'm slamming on the brakes don't even understand that they were in the wrong.
The whole situation is a testament to idiocy, and there's not a day that I'm in the vicinity of the damn thing that I don't get pissed off all over again.
I'd run for mayor and make the stupid stop, but it would be entirely too much work to deal with the stupid that's already been done.
And the last thing I need is more work.
Or more stupid.
Posted on October 28th, 2014
It never ceases to amaze me how a city known for its rain consists of a population who has no idea how to drive in the stuff.
Today my commute to work which is usually 30-40 minutes took a mind-boggling 1-hour 45-minutes... assumably because motorists lose their damn minds any time it rains more than a sprinkle.
Google's traffic map was lit up like a Christmas tree with accident reports this morning, leaving me no clear route to take. So I bit the bullet, headed to the heinous mess that is the 405, and sat in traffic for over an hour. Absurd.
Though I did get free entertainment when somebody drove clean off the road for no reason other than they were probably texting or brushing their teeth or slicing strawberries for their oatmeal, or whatever the fuck it is people do that causes them to drive off the road.
Hey! Here's an idea... maybe if people would pay attention to the damn road when weather conditions are less than optimal and allowed a little more room between cars and slowed down a bit and sliced their strawberry garnish at home... everybody could get to work only ten minutes later than usual instead of an hour plus.
Just a thought.
Posted on June 5th, 2014
I have been a lot of places and seen a lot of horrible traffic. Every major US city has some traffic problems due to the sheer volume of cars and trucks and things that go on the roads. But there are definitely cities worse off than others. Los Angeles is pretty much the gold standard for horrible traffic. San Francisco isn't much better. Boston has ensnared me more times than I can count. Some of the worst traffic I've ever seen was spotted as I was trying to drive into Atlanta one day. New York is an obvious target but, to me, never seems to be as bad as people think.
But, in my humble opinion, none of these cities compare to Seattle.
Seattle traffic is hellaciously bad and in a league of its own.
Most of the reason is simple geography. The bulk of Seattle is surrounded on three sides by water... Lake Washington to the East, Lake Union to the North, and Puget Sound on the West. You can't add "ring roads" around Seattle to alleviate congestion because there's no place to put them. The rest of the problem is just the sheer volume of vehicles on the road. Auto density in Seattle is absurdly high, and no matter how the city tries fix the problem, people love their cars too much to give them up.
And the problem isn't limited to Seattle, as the traffic there bleeds out into surrounding areas as people do whatever they can to avoid driving in the city.
Which makes driving to SeaTac airport a real crapshoot.
Technically, the drive takes 2-1/2 hours for me if the traffic isn't horrible. But since the traffic almost always is horrible and you never know how many times you'll have to stop for road construction, I leave anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes early. Most of the time I'm glad I did. But today the traffic was merely "bad" and not horrible at all...
18 minutes to drive 12 miles is practically lightspeed so far as Seattle traffic is concerned.
And so here I am, sitting at the airport with two hours and 45 minutes to kill before my flight. If only I had known, I would have stayed in bed an extra hour.
But you just know the day I sleep in is the day that a truckload of fish overturns on the 405 and backs up traffic for an hour.
The good news is that I have plenty of time to eat at Qdoba for breakfast. Sure the line is always long but, unlike Seattle traffic, it moves fairly quickly.
Posted on June 12th, 2013
I know I've bitched about them before... but, after driving through Seattle's horrendous traffic again today, I'm more enraged than ever at the money being spent for these ridiculous "Smart Signs" that are popping up everywhere. They're have got to be one of the stupidest fucking things I've ever seen.
The idea is that "Smart Signs" will slow traffic so that everything flows more smoothly during peak traffic times. But, in reality, the signs are always 10-20 miles per hour faster than the speed anybody can actually reach. This makes them effectively useless...
Here I am going 10 miles per hour in a 30 miles per hour zone.
So what fucking difference does it make if, instead of paying for these very expensive digital signs, there were much cheaper traditional 60 MPH painted signs on the side of the road? I'll tell you what... NO FUCKING DIFFERENCE AT ALL! These "Smart Signs" aren't doing shit. Except costing taxpayers absurd amounts of money. Slow traffic is slow traffic and you'll go however fast the traffic allows. No magical signage is going to change that. End of story.
But the "Smart Signs" keep going up.
Not that smart, Seattle.
Posted on July 26th, 2011
There are four streets I drive on to get to work.
Two of them are closed for construction. This basically means that I have to take two detours twice a day. For the most part, I don't mind, because it's (supposedly) going to make it easier to get from
As inconvenient as the detours were this morning, that wasn't the most irritating thing about my commute. That would be the mommy-jogger-walkers.
These inconsiderate morons jog down the street THREE-WIDE pushing GIANT STROLLERS. One of them on the sidewalk, two on the street. This alone blocks both foot and auto traffic in one direction... but they don't stop there. They are also WALKING THEIR DOGS, which are wandering all over the place, making them even more of an obstruction.
I didn't have my phone handy as I was forced to follow them down the road. Instead I had to take a picture of them down the street after I parked...
Now, in this photo, the two on the left are jogging single-file because a car was revving up behind them wanting to pass. But when I was behind them, they were side-by-side, effectively blocking the entire lane and not even attempting to share the road. I ended up having to wait for a break in oncoming traffic so I could go around them.
Far be it for me to berate somebody for trying to stay fit... but what a bunch of assholes.
It wouldn't be so bad if they were all jogging single-file on the side of the road... or if they were JOGGING THE SPEED LIMIT... but oh no! They totally don't give a shit that they are taking over THE ENTIRE STREET and causing a backlog of traffic. They're more important than people trying to get to work in the morning, so they just say a big FUCK YOU to motorists and do whatever the hell they want.
Which makes me wonder how long it will be before some pissed off person who's late for work runs them all down in the street.
Hopefully it won't end up being me.