Saturday, March 10, 2007

A Turn in the Right Direction

I've spent the weekend in a frenzy of getting things done around the house--working hard now so that I can enjoy the rest of the week even more. One of the things I did today was get everything together for my taxes, so that all the pertinent numbers could be sent to my accountant (who goes by "Dad" the rest of the year). Among my tasks was to calcuate all the work-related driving that I did during the last calendar year, and, as usual, I actually had to go out and capture a couple of mileages between schools that I never bothered to write down during the year. (You'd think that, teaching at eight schools, I would already know the distance between any one of the eight to any other one, but this was the first time I'd ever made three specific trips this year.) Fortunately, the whole thing only took about half an hour.

While I was out and about, I noticed some new road construction in a few places, and the projects in question involved something that I thought should have been done a long time ago: Adding dedicated right-turn lanes to intersections with stoplights (I've also noticed this at a few locations near the college). To me, the truly amazing thing is that it hadn't been done a long time ago.

As someone who drives quite a bit (having nine worksites tends to require it), I've spent quite a bit of time sitting at stoplights. I've found that the two things that keep traffic badly backed up at controlled intersections are 1) not having a sensor on the left-turn lane, so that everyone is forced to wait for an arrow when nobody's turning left, and 2) not having a dedicated right-turn lane at the intersection.

It would be OK if people who were going straight (or, say, turning into a business that was right on the opposite corner of the intersection) avoided the right lane when approaching a stoplight, but I'm aware that, first of all, people do sometimes honestly get caught in that lane when the light turns yellow and they don't have a chance to clear the intersection; there are also people who are either obilvious to or uncaring about the cars behind them who are stuck because they're going straight in a lane which is also used for turning. Since it's not likely that we're going to be able to legislate courtesy (or having a clue, for that matter), it's far better to just make the special lane so that nobody gets stuck; it would improve the flow of traffic dramatically.

If I were in charge of things, I'd require that the right-turn lanes be built at the same time that the traffic signal was installed. (Of course, if I were really in charge of things, I'd be looking into that "smart signal" technology that's supposed to gauge when cars are coming in either direction and time the signals accordingly.)

And here's to a week of not having to worry about traffic too much...

Dave Barry--and most other guys--will love this: A recent Duke grad has invented the refrigerator that can toss you a can of beer without you ever having to leave the couch.

Putting a tiger in your tank, only not: A Missouri water-plant worker found himself face-to-face with a bobcat riding shotgun in his golf cart; the cat was chasing a rabbit who had gotten there first.

Ice, ice, baby: A California man stole a diamond from a jeweler and managed to swallow and regurgitate the rock every time he was transferred to a new prison. But the evidence was eventually recovered after his latest attempt to hide it in the shower stall caused it to get stuck in the drain instead.

Blowing out the candles: Happy birthday to my friend and fraternity brother Jervis, one of our brotherhood's national treasures.

No comments: