I’ve got a GREAT idea!

They go this way and that way and this way and that way.

Laaaa-le-la-la-la, la. la. Laa-la-le-la.

The peoples in charge of deciding what is “best” for the town unveiled their Master Plan this weekend: Streets around the U are now two way traffic again! Whooo! Celebrate! Get down with your funky traffic rerouting selves. You go girl/guy/gender neutral noun…enable that traffic, let it flow in a bi-directional fashion the way god intended it to. Bring it! Bring on the cars!

I just have one question: If 40 years ago they (who would, if you are keeping track, actually be the predecessor’s of the they who changed it back but essentially the same they in an entity sense) decided that two way traffic was congesting these intersections and changed the traffic flow to alleviate this and today there are many more cars on the road than back then, what exactly is the benefit of the change? They (the same they that have made things two way) say that the one way nature of the streets around here confuse people and that it makes shopping difficult. Now, purportedly, people can see stores going both ways and are more likely to browse the storefronts. Going both ways. You know. Because going only north didn’t give one enough opportunity to eyeball the whole street. Or something. Hmmmm.

OK, I’ll give them that this town has some major traffic weirdness going down which can be traced to the one wayness of the road lay out. Williams has always been a fun ride; you have to do this slalom dance just to stay on it. It’s never exactly had two traveling lanes but spatially it does have two lanes, a “keep traveling on this road” lane and a “turn onto another road” lane. Unfortunately the two lanes switching positions depending on what one way street you are crossing at the time. Every block you have to be in the other lane or get shunted somewhere you really didn’t want to be so yeah, I can see that being a problem.

Another neat one way trick is the whole “make a street one way for only a few blocks of its length” gig. Usually I find that it turns one way at the most inconvenient time, say a single block before the address I am looking for. There is an intersection where a one way eastbound road crosses a one way southbound road and immediately switches to one way heading back towards you. If you hit this intersection wrong, you go south. It doesn’t matter where you want to go, you go south. In fact, I think you go south quite a ways before you can journey in another direction.

So yeah, it can be daunting trying to navigate around these parts. On the plus side, it’s pedestrian haven. Any one way road immediately becomes easier to cross against the light (not that *I* would ever do such an unlawful thing) because you only have to worry about the flow of traffic in one direction. Usually. Sometimes people aren’t all that with it and have been known to go the wrong way on occasion. Despite that, I find one way traffic very ped friendly.

This is why the major traffic shift saddens me; I have lost some of my favorite ped stomping grounds. Last night I moseyed over to the dojo through the thick of the changes and was a tad unnerved. Cars going the wrong way (but now correctly) all over the place! That’s just not right. Plus, they tore out my favorite traffic island bump so no more crossing half the street and waiting safely on the island bump for the rest of the lanes to clear. They also axed a row of 20 plus parking meters changing the direction on North University. Not only does it make parking downtown even harder (and it has never been really pretty) but the street that I used to only have to worry about people possibly turning right onto now has two way traffic (and a light! What’s up with that?!?) that is perfectly fine with mowing my not used to the change ass right over. Alessar and I went hunting for foods at lunch and both automatically walked into the road after the cursory glance over our left shoulders to see if someone was turning right. Halfway across the street and one large Buick barreling down on us, I remembered that things were different now and we took off for the shelter of the other side.

Whew! I’m going to have to find a different Cheeto route to the dojo now that that corner isn’t an automatic breeze through. Sadness. We also noted that the walk sign where they tore out my beloved traffic island bump has about a three step duration before it goes Don’t Walk blinky. We missed the first cycle entirely as we were talking. The heart of downtown certainly is easier on the driver what with all the two way trafficking, but much less pedestrian friendly than it was last week. It sort of makes me wonder about the whole “draw people into the area” push behind the change. I mean, once (or even if) people find a spot to park their car they are on foot and being on foot aint the carefree experience it once was. No sir, now you are taking your life in your own hands with these three second walk lights and the stopping every block thing. Of course, if they really did know what they were talking about 40 years ago when they switched the roads to one way then the traffic will be so grid locked that crossing safely most anywhere will be an option again.

Maybe that’s how they plan to get people to notice the stores more; extend their commute by a half hour as they negotiate the new streets.

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