Thursday, June 10, 2010

Driving in DC #4

Often, when one is trying to navigate the twisted pile of spaghetti that is the DC roadway system, there comes a case of information overload.  The beginning of Canal Road, where it splits off from Foxhall road, is one such instance.  Glance at the picture below, as if you were driving at the posted speed limit of 35 miles per hour, and tell me if you can comprehend and process all of it:

Quick: it's 4pm on a Wednesday; should you make the turn?  If you have to think for more than about 0.4 seconds, you're too late.  You've either missed the turn, or you're now driving the wrong way down a one-way street.

I'm also standing at about the point where cars make the turn.  The print on the signs really is that small.

I completely understand the traffic designer's need to make traffic flow as smoothly as possible during the rush hours.  In this case, both lanes of Canal Road are one-way into the city (as in, opposite the way I'm facing for this picture) during the morning rush hour from 6:00 am until 10:00 am.  But then both lanes are going OUT of the city from 5pm until 7pm Monday thru Friday, except holidays.  All other times, it's two-way traffic.  On paper, or on the static desk of a traffic engineer's workspace, that probably makes sense.

But in practice, as shown in the above, there's just no way that a driver can process all that.  There are no signs preceding this one to tell you what's coming up.  There are no electronic overhead signs to tell you which lanes are valid and which ones are not.  And I bet it doesn't get any better when that orange traffic sign is uncovered. (I didn't peek to see what it says.)  Frankly, I see the giant DO NOT ENTER sign and keep on going.

The GW Parkway, on the other side of the river, is a much better way to get out of town.

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