Confrontational Courtesy

I stood on the corner of 22nd & Market in Philadelphia today from approximately 5:00 pm until 5:20 pm.  Construction several blocks north on 22nd Street, combined with rush hour traffic, made the intersection severely congested.  Opposing traffic would block the box, and the short green light durations would prevent the blocked traffic from crossing the intersection until late in the light, or perhaps never.

My PNW roots really show when it comes to traffic.  Little convinces me more that Philadelphia is a roiling pot of assholes than the way people treat a busy intersection.  I watched perhaps 20 light changes at that intersection, and this is what I saw:

A majority of the drivers presented with the opportunity of bolting halfway through the red light and blocking the intersection chose to do so.   A MAJORITY.

So this gives me the following idea.  We get a crew of people dressed in reflective traffic gear to stand at that intersection.  We hold picket signs that say “Traffic Courtesy Police” and threaten one (or both) of the following with other signs.

If you block opposing traffic from crossing the intersection during their green light, we will either:

  1. Draw a scarlet A on your car window with car dealership chalk, or
  2. Press our bare asses up against your driver’s side window.

This would be filmed, blogged, and tweeted, of course.

I see two main drawbacks to this plan.  The first is that it will only increase general animosity, certainly with the drivers most likely to exhibit it.  The second is that if we did this for 2 hours, there would be a 10% chance that a gun would be drawn on us, and a 5% chance within that 10% chance that we would be shot.

Of course, if we were shot, the shooter would be boxed into the intersection by all the cars he or she was cutting off, and would likely be apprehended.

Who’s in?


One thought on “Confrontational Courtesy

  1. GoJetzoff

    Nick, I can understand your consternation with Philadelphia traffic mores, but this is because of the difference in rules in Philadelphia, as opposed to your home state of Washington. Here are some of the driving laws that are specific to Philadelphia:

    1. When passing through a red light, remember to honk out of courtesy.
    2. Crosswalks should be avoided by pedestrians and should be seen as “speed zones” for drivers.
    3. Hazard lights permit you a 30 minute window to do anything you like.
    4. Yield and Stop signs are synonymous. Yielding is not encouraged.
    5. When parallel parking, please parallel park empty spaces as much as possible.
    6. When passing, use the bike lane.
    7. Blocking the box awards you 2 “awesome” points.

    If you follow these simple laws, I think you’ll find walking and driving in Philadelphia easier.


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