Thursday, January 09, 2014

Keep calm around the orange barrels

No, the sign didn't look
like this.
On the way home from work the other night I came across a curious thing on the fairly heavily traveled road on which the entrance to my complex sits.

At first, I thought there may be a crew working on a water main break, of which there have been many during the bitter cold snap. As I got closer, however, I realized that there wasn't a truck beyond the orange barrels with the flashers attached. There were simply four barrels on the center line in a narrow diamond formation, orange flashers on top pulsing for all they were worth.

A quick glint of light off of a small sign at almost ground level had me slowing down to read...

"Traffic calming area"


Apparently someone sitting behind a desk somewhere realized it would be cheaper to put up barrels in an area where traffic needed to be slowed, rather than installing a real, honest-to-gosh stop sign (on behalf of my profession, I apologize; the pinheaded pencil pusher who came up with this idea was probably an accountant).

Yes, it is difficult to stay under the 25 mph speed limit on that particular road. Yes, I did slow down significantly approaching the barrels. But after that first encounter, my reaction to the "traffic calming area" has mostly been to think, "Oh, yeah, those stupid barrels...better pull a little bit to the right" as I approach it.

And I'm betting most people are the same way.

It could be that this is a temporary measure to get the local population ready for stage two. The road will need resurfacing sometime in the next three years or so. Given the amount of traffic it bears, there is a possibility (and plenty of room) the road could be expanded to either two lanes in each direction, or one-and-a-half, with dedicated turning lanes at a few key cross streets. If that comes to pass, they may well put up another stop sign, or even signals, close to where the "calming area" now sits.

Isn't that a charming name, by the way? As if the traffic were a raging beast, threatening to overpower the neighborhood, and the barrels somehow send out waves of happy-happy calm-calm that has drivers emerging from the other side of the area with loopy smiles and cars incapable of doing anything so indecorous as traveling at a speed even one mile per hour over the limit.

We'll see how long this bureaucratic experiment lasts.


melissa said...

Huh. Dunno. "Traffic Calming Area" sort has a nice ring to it. Do they serve tea while you wait?

Diane said...

I know - they should! That would certainly slow traffic.