July 26, 2004

West Circle Drive Me Insane

There is a road I drive each morning on my way into work, and then again from work back to my home, and this road is called West Circle Drive. It's not a particularly long commute, perhaps five miles each way. As commutes go, really, it's kind of piddly.

But West Circle Drive has these things, and these things are called stop lights, and there are an unsettling number of stop lights stationed on West Circle Drive.

Stop lights, as you may know, are lights that tell motorists to stop. They consist of three colors: there is a green color, which is every motorists favorite stop light color, because it means GO. There is a yellow color, which is a dangerous color, because motorists have different reactions to it, ranging from pushing the accelerator through the floor to slamming on the brakes so suddenly it causes tailing motorists to wonder if there is an emergency baby-delivery about to commence. Finally, there is a red color, also known as the *#^$%^@* color, which requires motorists to stop, and most motorists today will tell you they hate stopping, so the red color is not at all popular with motorists.

Now, I don't really have a problem with stoplights. They're necessary in today's automobile-laden world. However, West Circle Drive, quite simply, has way too many stop lights. In the span of about three miles, there are no less than seven stop lights. That, in itself, is not really the problem. The problem is that five of those lights are stationed within a half mile. It's like a stop light party or something.

And, I'm here to tell you, you can NOT catch all five of those lights. You WILL have to stop at least once and, more than likely, you'll have to stop as many as three times.

I have come to believe that each stop light has its own unique personality. The first stop light I encounter on the way to work, for example, is a laid back and easy-going stop light. It's pretty good about letting me get through. I think it recognizes my car and kind of likes me. I typically have no problem catching that light.

Light #2 is a little more finicky. If #2 is in a bad mood, chances are you won't have a prayer of catching it. Light #2 realizes that you're about to encounter hell's kitchen when it comes to stop lights, so it generally lets me go through unimpeded.

Lights #3 and #4 are the real stinkers. They're set up, I believe, to be completely unsynchronized. If one is green, the other is red, and vice versa and, since they're about 100 feet apart, this can drive anxious motorists to no end of crazy. You can be stopped at light #3, even if it's green, because there's traffic backed up thanks to light #4 being red. Or, you can be stopped at #3, while up ahead #4 is green, but as soon as #3 goes green, #4 clicks to red. It's enough to make you scream, and I've seen motorists punch the ceilings of their autos in impatient disgust.

Light #5 is located about one-third of a mile past light #4, and it knows when you're coming, let me tell you. I'll be coming down the hill at #5, and it will be green, but as soon as I get within an acceptable range, it clicks to yellow, just daring me to gun the gas, or wimp out and hit the brakes. I'm a hit-the-brakes kind of guy, and I swear I can hear that light laughing a little electronic laugh every time I roll to a stop before it.

Light #6 is located another mile down the road. I probably wouldn't have a gripe about #6, but I usually still have the taunting laugh of light #5 ringing in my ears upon my arrival at #6, so I get really agitated if that one clicks to yellow just as I approach it. I start to feel as if the world is conspiring to keep from getting to work on time.

Finally, there's light #7, which would probably bother me to know end, except that's my turn-off, and since I can turn right on red, there's really not much #7 can do to slow me down, and I think that probably bothers #7 just a little bit.

Then again, light #7 plays a much more significant role on the way home, but that's an entirely different story, which I won't bore you with today.

Posted by Ryan at July 26, 2004 02:04 PM

Amen. I've learned to bypass the stop lights of doom where WCD meets 14 by exiting off of 14 by the John Deere dealership on my way into town. I then come out at #6, thus avoiding the previous lights. I am in total agreement that they need to do something about the synchonization of the light above 14. It's frickin' ludicrous.

Posted by: Rick at July 26, 2004 02:28 PM

You realize that you will get almost no sympathy for a five mile commute, don't you?

Besides, I'd think it would be worthwhile to ride your bike whenever possible.

And would the lights be such a pain in the butt if they were timed properly so that you'd only stop at one each time and then breeze through the rest? But then you wouldn't have had the time to really get to know each of the lights for who they are.

Posted by: Johnny Huh? at July 26, 2004 03:10 PM

Buying a bicycle is on my extensive to-buy-when-I-have-some-money list. I briefly considered rollerblading to work, but rollerblading can be really sweat-inducing work, especially uphill, and I hate being sweaty at work. I know, a five mile commute really is a gravy run, but I wouldn't be me if I wasn't complaining about something.

Posted by: Ryan at July 26, 2004 03:18 PM

Yeah, Ryan, try a 40 mile in, 40 mile home commute every day. It.... fucking..... blows. I'd love to be able to bike or run to work (we have a shower in our building!!), but it would take me most of the work day to to do it :-)

Posted by: Rick at July 26, 2004 03:21 PM

See, if there is one kickass thing about NYC (esp Manhattan), its that lights are timed so you can literally blast through tens & tens of blocks at a time. I hit the city on Saturday, and was late meeting someone at 14th St/8th Ave, and came out of the Lincoln Tunnel at 39th St/9th Ave. Argh! Well, I caught the green when I turned onto 9th Ave, and VOILA! I literally blasted down to 14th in about 3 minutes flat. Gotta love timed lights :) :)

(hey, this crazy city is good for at least *one* thing right? ;)

Posted by: allie at July 26, 2004 06:26 PM

I may have you beat, 11 lights for a 6 mile commute with 6 of those lights not being in synch so I have to stop at each of those.

The worst one is a school light (light at the entrance to a elementary school) that operates during the summer, I mean duh.

Of course when I have to be at work on Friday's at 6:30am I can make the commute in 12 minutes flat otherwise it's 20 minutes.

Posted by: Machelle at July 27, 2004 07:39 AM

Geez, Ryan, you whine more than I do. ;-) But I've got my commute down to less than two minutes, with no stoplights to speak of, so I don't have anything to complain about there.

Posted by: Jen at July 27, 2004 08:35 AM

traffic between my bedroom and my desk (20 feet) is usually light in the morning but a little heavier in the evening.

traffic jams consist of the Big Hair, a beagle and me all being in the hallway at one time.

Posted by: Rob @ L&R at July 27, 2004 12:38 PM
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