Tag Archives: traffic

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?

Urban Olympics II: Summer Bicycle Triathlon

Another post in the Urban Olympics series.  This morning I tested out Philadelphia’s urban bicycle triathlon course.  The Philly UBT consists of four stages and three events.  The course map is below:

Philadelphia's urban triathlon course (click for bigger view)

A primer on the Philly Urban Triathlon for the unfamiliar:

Stage 1: Time Trial (Point A to Point B on map)

Starting at Point A (21st & Pine), bike your way to Point B (15th & Pine).  The lights are timed and you must maintain a minimum speed of, oh, pretty fast, to get through them all without stopping.  One minute time penalty is assessed for every missed light.

Stage 2: Cool Down (Point B to Point C)

For this block, you reduce speed and lower your heart rate in preparation for the stop at Broad & Pine.

Stage 3: Witty Banter (Point C)

You must wait through the duration of one light at point C, during which time you make witty banter with the UArts students who hang around the corner of Broad & Pine at 8:10 in the morning.  The lower your heart rate, the wittier you will be.

Stage 4: Death Slalom (Point C to D)

For the last leg of the race, you must continue down Pine from Broad Street to 10th Street.  This stretch of pavement is atrocious, filled with more potholes, crumbled asphalt, and bad patch jobs than smooth concrete.  A popular area for taxi hailers, you must slalom between the bike lane and the car lane while avoiding taxis and moving vehicles.

Final scores are a combination of total eclipsed time and number of witticisms registered with the art types.  Automatic win if you get a phone number.