Sunday, September 14, 2014

Ridin' in Mah Car ...


Portland, Oregon, is a lovely town in so many ways. Great place to live, good people, great food, weather not too awful.

Lovely town–except, of course, if you have to drive anywhere during rush hour, and especially from one side of the city to the other, in which case, not so lovely.

I have occasion to do that now and again, to make the transit from Beaverton to Vancouver, Washington, just across the Columbia River, and it is not a trip I'd wish on anybody I like.

Maybe not even on my enemies.

It is eighteen miles from Steve's house to the Columbia River bridge, and on most days, the trip averages twelve miles an hour.

An hour and a half to drive eighteen miles.  So I have to allow at least two hours, because some days, the traffic is, you know, bad. And leave us not even speak of really bad ...

Were I a bike rider with a clear lane, I could easily pedal faster than that. Even a good marathon runner could get there quicker ...

To be helpful, the government put up some electronic billboards on the highway to aid motorists. Sometimes they flash warnings of accidents that are ahead; sometimes, they look like regular green road signs, only they tell you how long it will take you to get from there to certain points ahead. Just so you know.

Like, on Hwy. 26, one will say, "I-5, fourteen minutes."

I always wonder from which body orifice those numbers are pulled. Really? More often than not, you can double the number quoted and add thirty percent for the shit, and be much closer to the actual time, albeit sometimes still short. I have never once during rush hour achieved the promised goal in the time shown. Maybe if I could turn my car into a helicopter and take to the air ...

Rush hour, by the way, runs from 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. If you are lucky.

I picture some laughing engineer throwing darts at a board with minutes on it, then plugging that into the reader.

Then there is the diamond lane on I-5 between downtown Portland the the bridge. Stupidest idea anybody had in years, only stretch of that in the whole city. Mostly it is empty, relative to the stop-and-1st gear lanes next to it. Supposed to be for cars carrying at least two passengers, buses, and motorcycles. As you sit parked in the middle lane, if you bother to look at those passing on the left, you will see that one car in three actually has more than one person in it. I have done this a few times. One in fucking three. If the police stopped them, they could fund the city from the fines, which are pretty stiff. The temptation is mighty to pull over and use that lane, but the citation is large, and if they did that, nobody would ever get anywhere because that would mean interfering with the rest of the commuters to pull folks over and ticket 'em. I favor a cam mounted over the lane in secret spots. Get you picture taken alone? Pay up. And don't tell me about your old granny sleeping the backseat, pal, I don't believe you.

The state of Washington declined to become involved in paying for a bigger bridge and more lanes, so that idea went down the toilet. For which I would require each and every one of them who voted against it to make the trip from Portland to Washington every day, for all eternity ...


1 comment:

Neal Hinerman said...

Oregon needs to take a lesson from California and allow lane splitting for motorcycles. A 2-hour commute by car can take an hour on the bike. And it's a great exercise in mindfulness.