Friday, April 23, 2010

The Morning Concert of Tire on Pavement

I find that it never is quite "quiet" here. 

I got up to walk the dog around my wonderfully quirky city at 6AM and expect it to be almost silent.  At this time of year and this time of day, I am up before the birds.  I have to be up that early, I have a furry alarm clock that insists that no matter what day of the week, whether holiday or not, I am up and walking her.

However it isn't so.   We've got this state owned thoroughfare running straight through the middle of Wilton Manors that is four lanes wide plus a bike lane and parking lane on each side of the road.   While a city has to have full access for people to come and go, visit, spend, enjoy, and then return from whence they came, we have been for a while too accommodating.

At 6 AM when I am out front of my house preparing for my morning mile walk, I can hear the cars passing on Wilton Drive, two blocks or almost a quarter mile away.  It isn't exactly pure silence I expect since this isn't the Jersey Pine Barrens and even there you have the music of the winds whispering through the pines.  On the other hand, I should not expect to hear tire on pavement and know that when they are going through there, they aren't exactly observing the speed limit since they're trying to get to work or coming home from "play".

It is rare that people drive appropriately when nobody is around.  It is an unwritten law, an understanding, that if nobody is about you can stretch the speed a little bit and get home a bit quicker.  In the area around Philly we call it the "Five Plus Rule".  You are breaking the law but an extra five won't be bothered unless you're in one of those ticketing towns.

I've changed my usual morning ramble with the dog.  I try not to cross that drive, whether at light or not, at all.  It flatly isn't safe.   In the amount of time it takes to press the button to cross at the lit cross walk until it stops traffic for you to cross, you can actually drive "almost the entire drive" from the Dairy Queen to Five Points at a legal speed. 

90 seconds at 30 MPH is 3/4 of a mile which according to Google Earth is the distance in question.

Clearly that timing is too generous and needs to be adjusted.

So an hour and a half later, I sit in my chair listening to the pool pump, the parrots outside, the wind up clocks and other equipment in the house.   All the windows are open, the coffee has been roasted and the scent of Guatemalan Peaberry is on the breeze, there's a pigeon cooing.  Underneath all that and the Tchaikovsky playing on the radio, I can hear a car accelerating up to speed out on the drive hitting the pavers in the intersection with a "Frrrt Frrrt" sound.

Hopefully this will all change.  The drive will get reduced to one lane each way with a bike lane and "reverse angle parking" and the speed will reduce because people just won't drive 50 on a road like that.  Our city deserves this gift to itself.  Short term inconvenience for Long term benefit to paraphrase Delaware DOT's signs.  A gift to ourselves that we will have to pay for but will pay us back 10 times the initial investment in 3 years.  A gift to ourselves that will increase the safety of the drive and hopefully allow fewer people to actually die trying to go from point A to point B.  A gift to ourselves of a forward thinking plan approved by a forward thinking Commission and Mayor. 

I look forward to the opening of that gift, but for now, I'll get that Guatemalan Peaberry Coffee off of the front porch so I can grind myself a second mug.

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