Sharpening our wits on the grindstone of Life: <i>Bureaucracy at its finest</i> .comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Sharpening our wits on the grindstone of Life

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Bureaucracy at its finest

I drove downtown today.

The good news: traffic light synchronization works great! I drove from one side of downtown to the other and only stopped three times! Green light, green light, green light, red. Green light, green light, green light, red. Cool!

The bad news? one and a half left turn lanes, one and a half forward lane, and two High Occupany Vehicle (HOV) lanes, or "diamond lanes", as we call them. Except these HOV lanes, which are supposed to be reserved for buses and vehicles with more than one passengers, are the only lanes where you can turn right.

Whaa?

It seems that the lanes are designated as HOV lanes in order to get federal funding for road repairs for downtown Houston. This funding is normally reserved for mass transit, such as rail lines, but since rail is so unpopular, and uneconomical, in metropolitan areas as spread out as Houston (and, incidently, L.A.), creative financing is the scheme du jour.

Bottom line - the diamond lanes downtown are not being enforced. I have no problem with this, as potholes plague us all and should be eradicated in order to further the cause of mankind in general. But I'm concerned that those that regularly abuse HOV lanes city-wide can use this non-enforcement to justify their abuse of legitimate HOV lanes - those that control the major arteries into the city - to avoid traffic backups that are a normal part of the daily commute into the city.

I'm not a frequent visitor to downtown Houston. When, by necessity or desire, I attempt to approach the nether region that is the center of our metropolitan area, I dutifully plan ahead and expect to sit in traffic for far longer that the speed limit suggests.

Those that feel that normal rules don't apply to them can expect no sympathy from me. This applies not only to those who feel HOV standards don't apply, but also to those that attempt to merge after lanes are closed.

Okay, before I get on a rant here, let it be said that I'm all in favor of dowtown improvements. Especially here, where it seems like we've been under construction forever. And I'm not in favor of enforcing the "diamond lanes" downtown, especially if I want to make a right turn.

I'm just saying, if you want consistency, you can't expect to enforce the rules in some parts of town, and not enforce them in others, and expect the citizens to accept it unconditionally.

Especially from those who tend to lean to the left more often that they turn to the right...

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