07 December 2009

Islands in the street

Some streets have a graceful esplanade planted with shade trees that offer a serene canopy to the cars driving beneath on either side. And then there are cement islands. Yeah, you know what I’m talking about.

There is an intersection of two major artery streets near my home. The intersection was designed with a bypass for the north-south bound traffic in an attempt to mitigate congestion as much as possible. Still, a large number of cars travel through the controlled signals at all hours of the day and night. Because of the bypass design, the intersection is extra wide and has a number of cement islands that are undoubtedly supposed to steer traffic flow in the proper direction. Some drivers just lose their bearings and need a guided path.

And then, some drivers lose their bearings even with a guided path.

I’m at this precise intersection not long ago patiently waiting my turn, first in line at the left turn signal. The flow of traffic to my right gets the greet light to go and I glance over. The first car in the left-most lane changes her mind about turning left and begins an attempt at a U-turn, apparently forgetting about the helpful island. She cuts her wheels hard to the left, presses the accelerator and the front wheels of her car pull it right up onto the island. She pauses momentarily, but instead of backing off, decides to stay the course. Gives it more gas and her car pops up as far as it can until the wheels lose traction.

Hmmm. That clearly wasn’t the driver’s idea. She gets out to look around, and sure enough, finds that her car is propped up on a cement island. Pretty darned inconvenient.

My light turned green and I departed, home bound, hopeful that her triple-A membership had not expired, so that they could rescue her car, shipwrecked on that lonesome island.

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