Is This You? Exploring the perils of one-way streets
January 26, 2018
I have an aversion to one-way streets. Is there a real reason for them? It just feels wrong on so many levels to drive clear on the left side of the street, in other words to the left of where the center white line usually is, let alone turn left from that far left lane onto another street. It just feels askew.
I don't remember where it was, but I've been to a town where every street was one way. The founding fathers of that town were just out of control. I'm talking every street and every cross street were one way. I couldn't live there. I know my driving and my attention span all too well. I would constantly be going the wrong way — no matter how many huge red signs were screaming "wrong way" at me! So, let's look at the silliness of one-way streets.
Creating a one-way street is like making a sweet two-lane road into a four-lane freeway. You can zoom by cars that are being driven by out-of-towners who aren't sure which way to go (see aforementioned paragraph 2). You can drive any open lane and cut in and out of the traffic. Like swooshing down a mountainside on skis. Fun, yes, but the end of the run can sneak up on you. While it seems one-way streets move moderate traffic along a bit faster, what happens when the one way is turning back to two way and the cars begin to be funneled into one lane? Who was the rocket scientist who came up with that idea? There's car jockeying and blinkers and the little "thank you" wave or the one-finger wave, if a driver isn't immediately let into the line.
What about bikes? OK, so when I was a kid — in another century — I learned to ride a bike against traffic. Yes, we rode facing traffic so we could see a car coming toward us and then we could duck and cover easier. When did those rules change? When did the norm of bike riding become to ride in the same direction of cars, and big trucks, and buses, and RVs? All of which can squish a bike and rider like a lizard being accidently squished by a running foot on a sidewalk! Accident waiting to happen for sure, but it could be avoided if all the parties were just moving along in opposite directions so they could see each other … but I'm going against the traffic. Back into the one-way lane.
Wait, one last thought on bikes and one-way streets. On regular two-way streets, the bike lane is to the right. What if a biker wants to turn left? Do they move to the far left lane like a car and turn left from that lane, or does a bike rider take their life in their own hands and cross in front of two, four or maybe more lanes of traffic to turn left? All confusing and talk about putting your life in the hands of people around you who may not be sure of which way they're going (again, see paragraph 2). Let alone wondering what a bike rider is planning. Aarrgh.
What about if your town's main street was one way? How would the kids drag main on a one-way street? The biggest part of dragging main is to meet your friends in passing, waving at everyone and just having fun. Hoping the one guy or girl you want to see is out at the same time you are. But everyone going the same way? All that would be lost. If your main street was one way all the stores would want to be on the right side of the street because who in their right mind wants to parallel park on the left side of the street? There are people, my other half was included, who couldn't only parallel park on either side of the street but do it with a trailer attached to their vehicle. Show-offs, huh? I'm way over "new driver's license" age, but for me to try to parallel park on the left side of the street would be like asking me to shop at a 5-7-9 store. Just not going to happen — unless you added all those numbers together!
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All in all, traveling streets is pretty lifelike. You get used to traveling a certain way, taking all the same streets, following the same paths. Then someone puts a different sign in your way. You can either take it and go with it and see what adventures are down that street, or just sit at the light and let the traffic pass you by. Come on! Take the turn and see what's in store …
Trina lives in Eureka, Nevada. Share with her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Really!