Apr 8, 2012

Getting Ready for This Century

A lot of the effort made by government, local and state and federal, from the last 25 years has been wasted money. We're at the end of cheap and easy oil and the beginning of a new era of higher cost energy and high efficiency. Much of our city's "traffic control" was designed by people who can't count, don't use critical thinking effectively, and are bound by old habits and foolish strategies. The whole freeway widening move from a few years back was wasted money and poorly considered. The traffic on 35E is going to drop as gas prices pass $4, then $5, and until fuel prices shoot past the reach of almost everyone currently commuting in a single passenger vehicle (probably 95% of current traffic).

Even in our neighborhood, many of the traffic control devices are half-baked and irrational. The stop sign at Jackson and Lake Street (A) or the sign at Demont and Canabury (B) make no sense at all. The first should be a pedestrian crossing warning and there should be a similar warning at Rose Place and Jackson (C) and another at the crosswalk on Demont and Jackson (D).

The stop lights at the 35E and Little Canada Road exit should be operational only at rush hour and turned to flashing reds at all other times. We had a demonstration of how effectively this works last winter when the lights failed multiple times in November and December and traffic was dramatically improved at those intersections when drivers just used common sense. The fantasy that government traffic controllers can more effectively control traffic than can drivers is delusional, at best, and arrogant on the average.

We're going to have to start thinking seriously about energy conservation, sooner or later. If we do it later, we'll be struggling to survive as a city and a culture. If we do it now, we might get through this together.