Thursday, March 11, 2004

On the Road Again: To Say Nothing of the Dog

So the road I live on crosses Benson Highway, also called 108th, which is the main four-lane north-south corridor along the top of the East Hill. And my normal commute has been to go west to Benson, North to 190th (the first major E/W road, where there is a light) then left and down the hill. The light at 190th is a long one, and if you hit it wrong, you can wait, oh, a minute (which is an eternity in car-time).

A few months ago they put a NEW light at the end of my road, so its now easier to go straight through the light (its well-timed for cross-traffic), then right onto 104th, the next North/South street over, THEN left on 190th, cutting out the original long light entirely.

This new route is probably not what the folk who put in the light had originally intended. The idea was to make it easier to get traffic on and off of Benson, not to push more traffic onto the side streets. Actually, its worse on my stretch of the road as well, since because of the new lights, it is now to the advantage of people coming up Petrovitsky (a really major east/west line) to cut through my neighborhood to get onto Benson heading south.

But roads sometimes work like that (laws, too, but that's another rant). You put in a light to make things safer, and the result is more people driving faster on less-adequate residential roads. I don't think the traffic engineers had quite figured this out, or if they had, they prioritized it beneath such matters as further development in our area. But just as the road-builders did not anticipate drivers finding new short cuts, they also didn't count of the Dog.

The Dog (he's a capital D) is an ancient golden retriever/mutt that stands on 104th in the middle of the road, and looks like he's been doing it for years. Clearly visible from either direction, his very presence causes drivers to slow down on that part of the road. He's sort of a canine traffic cop, standing in the middle of the road, keeping people from speeding. He's pretty effective, too.

Which is a both good thing and a frustrating thing. Good because we really need to be going slower in residential areas. And frustrating because, if not for the Dog, everyone would be going faster, and its not like the Dog was in the original plan for how the roads were supposed to work.

More later,