Thursday, February 07, 2008
I am fortunate in that I get to work at home. I don't have to get up and fight rush hour traffic, going or coming, and I am thrilled at that.
My silat class is in Vancouver, and I do have to drive there once a week, and that's more than enough for me.
There are only two bridges to get from Portland to Vancouver, and both are miserable experiences between three and six p.m. weekdays.
On I-405 , the -- pardon the expression -- better of the two routes for me, there is a four-mile section of interstate between the Freemont and Columbia River Bridges known -- not affectionately -- as the "super slab." On a good day, with everything going well, no wrecks and a lucky break, you can average seventeen miles an hour along this strip.
On a bad day, it will take more than thirty minutes to travel the four miles -- that's slower than a so-so jogger can cover the same distance on foot. Eight miles an hour. Guy on a bicycle would blow past you like you were standing still. Which you will be for much of the time.
This is partially due to one of the three lanes being an HOV (diamond) lane, and restricted between three and six p.m. to "two-person carpools." If you are on a motorcyle, you can single it.
So there you are, bumper-to-bumper and in first gear in the middle lane, while the HOV lane is zipping along at fifty mph. I understand the theory, but the practice is that it doesn't help.
Probably half of the drivers have passengers; the other half are playing expensive-ticket roulette and hoping the police have business elsewhere.
I expect that a guy standing at the on-ramp downtown holding a bloody machete and a cardboard sign that says, "Will Kill for Fun." will get a ride so somebody can use the diamond lane. Hell, I'd probably pick him up ...
Which is to say that while the traffic in Portland isn't as bad as L.A., or Seattle, it's bad, and getting worse. They are talking about building a bigger bridge, but that bottleneck is only part of the problem. Maybe when gasoline gets to six bucks a gallon that'll help ...
Meanwhile, I leave two hours early, so I can be sure to get to class on time. Sad.