Tim Chitwood: Need a screed? Note that the traffic downtown is insane

June 8, 2013 

The "Need for Speed" movie's closing the 13th Street bridge sure generated some traffic downtown.

It reminded me I've been meaning to keep a pad and pen handy when I'm driving, so I can jot down trip details on the road.

Like when I'm in the left lane on Ninth Street headed east toward Broadway and a driver to my right sees an empty parking space and cuts directly in front of me without signaling to get it, I could jot that down while I drive on toward the crosswalk.

But then maybe it would be safer to stop at the traffic light to take notes -- even if the light's green.

Why not stop at a green light? Lots of other drivers did last week, and not just when traffic was backed up like boxcars.

A friend of mine on Front Avenue came up behind a driver at the 10th Street red light, and when it turned green, the other driver just sat there.

So my friend honked her horn, and the driver still sat there. So my friend tried to go around, and the other driver honked at her, like she was the idiot.

Commuters more accustomed to cresting the 13th Street bridge so fast their tires lift like stunt cars may not realize this, but the light on Front Avenue at 10th Street stays green for like 10 seconds, and there's not much room to race around a driver frozen in brain lock.

Some drivers treat two lanes like one. They drift back and forth, or putter right down the middle, or they back so far out of a parking space in front of oncoming traffic they block two or three lanes.

Some drivers on multiple lanes so eagerly invite a pedestrian to cross against the light you wonder if they're in the will.

A while back a driver stopped on a three-lane and waved an elderly couple across at his green light, even though other cars were coming up behind him, and his vehicle could have blocked another driver's view as the pedestrians stepped into that driver's lane.

What part of a crosswalk sign's big red LED palm-front hand do people not understand, anyway? Why do they walk directly in front of drivers who have a green light?

I don't know what speed-demon fantasy "Need for Speed" will be, but I know this: In most movies, people who deliberately walk out in front of moving cars are cast as suicidal, insane, or terrified because they're fleeing a threat so lethal they'll do anything to get away.

These folks here appear to be in no hurry to get anywhere, so it must be B.

Tim Chitwood, tchitwood@ledger-enquirer.com, 706-571-8508.

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