Cynical Synapse

Thu, 05 Jul 2007

Merging Shouldn’t Be THAT Complicated!

Filed under: Behavior, Driving, Rants — cynicalsynapse @ 12:00 pm

This one’s been stewing since Monday and I gotta warn ya, it’s one of my top pet peeves.

Unfortunately, I face this issue every workday because I’ve got 2 chokepoints on the way home where everyone in the state who doesn’t know how to merge shows up at the same time as me. The problem is, people either don’t know how to merge or they try to game the system. Mitch Martin’s blog had examples of both types, especially if you include Jerk Store’s comment. He’s the bigger problem, more so than those who are just stupid. Jerk Store’s next action is to start moving as far left as he can so all lanes of traffic have to come to a screeching halt, not just the right and merging lanes. I HATE those guys!

I live 85 miles from where I work and 95% of the trip is on the freeway. I leave early in the morning, so the trip to work is usually uneventful. Even the trip home is okay since I’m heading back to the large city rather than out like most, but there are those 2 problem areas.

The first is where one freeway joins another and both pinch down from two to one lane each, resulting in two lanes again when they’ve joined. This mess is complicated by the addition of an on-ramp. If both highways have merged before joining, how come they have to creep along for the next mile even though they’re done merging? Oh, yeah, it’s because some idiots in the right lane need to move to the left lane as soon as possible to feel important. And let’s not forget the goofballs in the left lane who have to move to the right lane either because that’s where they’re supposed to be or because they want to get off at the next exit. That next exit is a mile and half down the road! You’ve got time! If everyone did their slimming down on their respective highway and then wasn’t so impatient to execute their lane flip-flops, we’d all move through that interchange a lot more quickly. Never mind it could all be helped if the state DOT had designed it better in the first place.

My other problem area is the so-called Mixing Bowl where 3 highways come together. This is the one where all of Mitch’s examples shine in their naked glory! The combination of not knowing how to merge, people wanting to guard “their turf” and not let anyone into their lane, and people like Jerk Store make this an almost daily problem area. I’ve learned to not get upset about it because it’ll never be fixed. There are just too many stupid people with driver licenses. I am, however, pleasantly surprised on the rare occasions when I can sail through there. Doesn’t happen very often between 3 and 7 PM, but when it does, that electronic sign a mile out should warn me ahead of time: “NO STUPID PEOPLE AHEAD TODAY! :)” Of course, those signs are a big waste of taxpayer dollars and almost never have any useful information, but that’s for another post.

Do I have a solution? Yeah, but probably not one that could be implemented. First off, there should be an intelligence and common sense test that people have to pass before they can get or renew their license. Since that’ll never happen, though, that re-design I mentioned for the first problem spot would be a start. For the Mixing Bowl, I’d install those tire shredders to keep people like Jerk Store from crossing the solid lines and maybe a concrete wall to keep the merging and right lanes together for at least a half mile. Since those both cost big money or are a little heavy-handed, how about Gallagher’s approach? The dart makers would be doing a landslide business…and I’d be first in line to buy by the case!

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