If you are reading this and you spend twice as much time in your car as you should in your daily commute due to constant traffic tie ups, you surely want to commit some violent acts upon the people most responsible. But who exactly is responsible, you ask, and why are they not sleeping with the fishes, (or buried in an unrepaired pothole) already? We here at the Bill Billy Bushwood Traffic Reduction Institute have the answers, and actual serious proposals!!
You have doubtlessly been brainwashed by your newspapers to believe that the problem is inadequate funding for building roads, combined with our feckless society too lazy to take public transportation. Editorialists might throw in real estate developers, (those awful, nasty, 1% income earning, tree and wildlife killing plutocrats who built YOUR house 20 years ago) who maliciously keep building new tract houses further out from where you live, thus creating yet more traffic.
The solutions that are casually bruited about include raising taxes by a few bucks, (actually billions, but no successful politician would admit this out loud) for building more lanes on the freeways. Or outlawing the building of new homes in the suburbs, or requiring the building of high rises in your neighborhood, or spending more of your hard earned taxes on commercials fruitlessly extolling the virtues of public transit. (Hint, there aren’t any. Public transit sucks, the subject of a future blog).
However, I believe that potentially huge reductions in traffic can be achieved for far less money, and cause so much less disruption to people’s lives, than your politicians want you to believe
Trained scientists here at the BBTRI have determined, after years of scientific study (mainly obscenity laced, beer enhanced discussions at neighborhood barbeques), the four main causes of traffic congestion:
- Loss of a lane, causing a funnel at a the merge
- Accidents and disabled vehicles
- Cops stopping speeders
Most of this blog explains why we have such a huge problem with item #1, the others are more self explanatory so I will jump right to solutions for those.
Loss of lane, causing a funnel at a merge
Have you noticed that the two biggest sources of traffic (other than all the drivers, of course) is when you lose a lane on the freeway? Cut a two lane highway to one, and watch what happens during rush hour (the results is a huge increase in stomach bile, which is why the makers of Prilosec and Tagamet secretly shovel millions to campaigns aimed at the prevention of building of new freeways. Please, no lawsuits…just kidding about the makers of acid reflux medicine, heh heh heh). Admit, that seeing this sign causes a slight tear in your stomach wall the minute it rushes ominously towards you?
With the certain knowledge that the loss of a lane will make traffic unbearable, why are so many freeways actually DESIGNED AND BUILT that way? Think about the highways in your town, how many places require that four lanes merge into two PERMANENTLY? Why, why, why would sane rational people design the road that way? I can recall a freeway West of Chicago where three major highways intersect into the major artery to downtown, sadistically squeezed into just ONE LANE. In Washington DC there are so many places where a lane becomes exit only, or six lanes merge into two, or something even more torturous , that the metro area has traffic worse than Los Angeles despite having less than half the population and far fewer certifiable wingnuts. The design is so bad, you think, that is must be the result of a horrible revenge fantasy by highway designers who hold a grievous grudge against the unfortunate motoring public there.
Being the calm, rational, anti-capital punishment citizen that you are, naturally you hope that the people responsible for designing roads this badly merely suffer the unpleasant fate of being forced to be driven around the beltway during rush hour every day of their natural lives, in a Kia Soul, by a 300 pound ex motorcycle gang member with a suspended license, halitosis, and constant flatulence caused by eating triple bean burritos for breakfast. Or possibly you favor leniency, and just want them to become ISIS recruits. I know I used to favor such treatment for these apparent jerkoffs.
But then I thought, do I really think that road engineers are capable of such anti motorist mayhem on their own? I am doubtful. Payscale.com says they make about $60K annually; although possibly they feel underpaid and unloved, but could they be in effect, criminal masterminds? Common sense argues for a more sinister explanation.
I am a believer that anything that defies logic and common sense is caused by politicians. My feeling is that behind every “Right Lane Ends 2,000 ft.” sign that you see, is a nasty, greedy politician on the make. You see, if roads were designed properly from the start, and traffic was much less, what issue would your local congressperson run on? How would they squeeze more taxes out of us for roads, which they could then use as a piggy bank to fund bridges to nowhere, and training programs which produce no discernable job gains (taught by the congressperson’s niece)?
Allright Billy, you are so smart, what do we do about traffic if the politicians are determined to ensure that it remains an intractable problem forever? I am with you, I have no use for a pundit who says, “Whoa, here is a big problem!! We really need to fix it!!” without ever offering up a solution. Here at the Billy Bushwood Traffic Reduction Institute, we actually have proposals. These are way too commonsensical to have a chance of adoption, of course. But futility does not deter the policy wonks here at the BBTRI!!
Solution 1: Spend all the highway money for the next 10 years eliminating the merge lanes, even if you have to squeeze the highway down from four to three lanes rather than expanding the road. The traffic would move much faster without getting jammed up at the merges. Then institute long jail sentences for any road engineer that even draws a lane merge on their design software (we could have the program itself flag this behavior via automatic link to the FBI.)
Solution 2: Position ambulances and tow trucks at 20 mile intervals along all major highways. As soon as the accident or disabled vehicle is reported, the tow truck swings into action, and IMMEDIATELY TOWS EVERYONE INVOLVED TO THE NEXT EXIT. This will prevent the rubberneckers from slowing down and trying to see if anyone was de capitated, or there are any chicks with short skirts, to whatever causes people to slow down when there are cars pulled to the side of the road. Why do they let everyone sit there, slowing traffic, for hours? It is beyond all comprehension.
Solution 3: Easy. Traffic Cameras, no cops sitting on the side of the road. You can allow people to get away with say, 10 miles over, or 5, so people don’t get pissed. But eliminate this traffic impediment.
Solution 4: Another easy one. Start construction at 7:00 PM, finish at 5:00 am. Pay the workers extra for having to work the night shift, but spare us the huge slowdowns caused by construction during rush hour. Are you all with me? Please?
Bonus Solution 5: You know those big signs that transmit traffic information, and Amber alerts, and so on? Have you noticed that they slow down traffic, so that drivers can read the damned things? I say, eliminate these traffic causing menaces. Find another way to get the word out about Amber, can’t we?