Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Toaster's Ramblings

When did it become such an ordeal to make a left turn? Seriously, have you seen the number of stoplights that won’t let you turn left? It’s stupid! Maybe this isn’t an issue in other places, but I live in the land of the “Michigan Left” (or sometimes “Dearborn Left”). You see, someone decided it would be a good idea to divide the road with a raised curb and every so often create a break in the divider for drivers to turn around ‘or basically turn left.’ This works fine in Dearborn, the city that apparently first implemented the system, but since then it has caught on all over and in very irritating ways!

I get the idea. By creating this turnaround left system, the stoplights will be quicker. In addition, the driving lanes will be less of a mess to navigate and theoretically there will be less accidents. (Though anyone will question that point after witnessing a driver traverse 3 lanes of rush hour traffic to reach a turnaround.) When this system is implemented on a busy major highway, such as Telegraph Road (which runs north to south along Detroit’s suburbs) the system works well.

But then we come to Ann Arbor, a city that has seemingly become obsessed with not allowing people to turn left. Whether it’s through the use of one-way roads, which force the driver to navigate around neighborhood streets to find the correct path back to “civilization” or by forcing all traffic into one big snarled left turn lane that takes several revolutions of the stoplight to pass, Ann Arbor has a fun reputation among the road weary. (Now imagine adding the nightmare of U of M football traffic! You could actually spend the day getting from one side of town to the other!)  In the outer parts of the city, Ann Arbor seems to have become obsessed with using the “Michigan Left” system. The result is often traveling a half mile to a mile out of your way just to make a frickin’ left turn! Here’s the thing… most of the areas in Ann Arbor that use “Michigan Lefts” are not busy enough to warrant their need! 

I don’t get it! I will be at an intersection and the perfect opportunity to make a left turn presents itself with a green light, but no! I have to drive through that light, turn around (at often another light) and drive back through the same light to turn right. And this saved what? 10 seconds per stoplight rotation? With gas at almost $4 a gallon here, I wonder what the price everyone is spending who have to drive out of their way to make a ridiculous Michigan Left turn rather than wait an additional 10 to 15 seconds at a stoplight?

And some of these turnaround points are a decent drive from the traffic light. I know of at least one that has you drive about a half mile to the turn around and a half mile back to where you started! That is ludicrous! Why not just let people turn left? Why does it have to be such a pain in the ass?

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