Monday, June 3, 2013

8 MPH While Standing Still

I knew the sign was there but had forgotten about it.  It was one of the newer Radar signs that towns put up to try to convince people they really don't need to do 45 in a 30 zone. 

Flat as a laptop, orange lights showing apparent speed, and letters spelling out "Your Speed" on the top, it was designed to show your speed in Miles Per Hour.

I remember the older signs that were large enough to be built into a small trailer.  They emit Radar, so if there is a Radar detector in your car, your detector will beep and make you think there's a cop standing around waiting to ticket you.

But this day I wasn't paying attention to the sign as I took my friend and house guest, David, to the Fort Lauderdale airport.  He was leaving to catch the shuttle to go home to Key West.  I, on the other hand, had a rare bit of fun.  I was actually driving the Jeep.

Leaving my own Island City, I crossed over into the 800 pound Gorilla that is Fort Lauderdale.  Immediately people started driving "stupid".  People were back into Pole Position mode, shifting lanes, driving too fast, and generally being nuisances.

I could never be a cop.  I'd spend all my time in court arguing why that idiot needed to pay the ticket for driving 15 miles over the speed limit in his boom car, or some other infraction.  Indeed, I saw four infractions on the first quarter mile before we hit the first light at the convenience store just South of town.

I dropped David off at Arrivals, said goodbye and that we'll look forward to seeing him again in a couple weeks.  Heading back, I thought nothing of the moronic drivers that we have here, entertaining myself by looking at palm trees, playing with the radio, and plotting my course for the 8 mile trip home.

When I crossed into Wilton Manors near City Hall, I saw that sign and it had its effect.   I checked my own speed.  My speedometer is calibrated indirectly. I know that it reads about 10 percent higher than actual speed.   It said I was going 32, the sign said I was going 38, so my actual speed was 29 - by the stopwatch and by my OBD II computer that I had talking to the smartphone.

Laughing at the "accuracy", I thought that it was a conspiracy.   Jeep has the speedometer reading high so you slow down.   The manufacturer of the sign had it reading even higher because these things are put up by cities frustrated by speeders.

Conspiracy?  Isn't that what they all say?

How about the dog walkers then?

It was 5:45AM.  I was walking South on Wilton Drive away from the sign and stopped.   For once, the city was just about empty.  The Green Market was setting up at the park for the Saturday and Sunday fruit and vegetable sales.

The sign said that I was moving at a steady clip.  Since I was actually standing there watching my dog water a shrub, I would disagree with the sign.  I wasn't going 8 MPH.

I shrugged and laughed as I walked down past City Hall, and back North on the North Side of the drive.

That mental sign still said 8MPH.

As I watched, a car approached and passed me.  The sign jumped to 18, then 28 MPH.  Seems like a pattern here. 

Once the sign was passed, the numbers reset to 8 MPH.  Nobody else was anywhere near that sign.  I was once again walking at 8 MPH while standing still.

Something tells me that the new sign isn't quite accurate, and that fits in with my own pet conspiracy theory.

I'll stick to the sidewalks at any rate, there are enough mental drivers out there without my adding to them by driving a Jeep in the "middle of the pack" speed zones.

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