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The Suburbanite
  • Jim Hillibish: Stop, go, no stop; Will it ever change? (Nope)

  • I live on 18th Street NW. Ever experience its intersection with Cleveland Avenue? For decades, I’ve cursed the six traffic lights there. I’m convinced there must be cars on both sides of 18th for the light to change. You can spot my neighbors. They squeeze a right on red and find a place to turn around.

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  • I live on 18th Street NW. Ever experience its intersection with Cleveland Avenue? For decades, I’ve cursed the six traffic lights there.
    I’m convinced there must be cars on both sides of 18th for the light to change. You can spot my neighbors. They squeeze a right on red and find a place to turn around.
    I complained about this and was told that low traffic on 18th and high traffic on Cleveland demand a “strong” right of way for Cleveland. So we get beat up.
    I can understand that, but it doesn’t justify the long line of traffic on 18th waiting for a single car to appear across the street and trip the light, or dash through the Marathon station.
    Lucky for us, some cities are rethinking traffic lights. Some are dumping them. They are a major expense requiring expensive maintenance. They don’t work in power outages, resulting in mayhem. Cities would rather spend the money on something important, such as pension funds.
    But here’s the kicker: A number of upstanding colleges with no political affiliation have studied the lights and discovered something every driver already knows. They waste gas three ways: sitting there waiting for the green, cursing us with start and stop driving and gumming up idling engines. That even has its own gas-mileage indicator, called, big surprise, “city driving.”
    It’s only getting worse. The feds found that city driving wastes 1.9 billion gallons of precious gasoline a year. We waste 5 billion hours — waiting.
    Worse yet: Traffic lights are supposed to cut accidents. No way. Your chances of being rear-ended double at a traffic light.
    The two most dangerous intersections in Canton are empowered by traffic lights (12th Street and Market Avenue N and Tuscarawas Street and Market Avenue north and south). Rear-enders and T-bones are full-time employment for hospitals and ambulance drivers.
    My favorite intersection is at the other end of my neighborhood, at 19th and Market N. Ten stop lights stand sentry over four lanes of traffic. It’s one of the few places in town where drivers run two red lights a few feet from each other.
    Have you ever attempted to drive through Cleveland’s famous and infamous intersection, at 105th Street and East Euclid Avenue? While you’re waiting, consider this: 98 years ago, the modern American “stop light” began here. It was red and green and had a buzzer that sounded with each color change. The buzzing drove nearby shop owners crazy, but so what, price of progress.
    Since then, we’ve endured two world wars and the computerization of everything. And stop lights? Well, they’ve lost the buzzer. Time marches on.
    There’s a new addition at this historic site: A traffic-enforcement camera collaborating with the lights. Smile. Your $100 fine is in the mail.