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Madison drivers are getting even worse...

What are the things that puzzle, enrage, delight and tickle you as you go about your life in Madison?

Madison drivers are getting even worse...

Postby dstol62 » Thu Apr 12, 2007 11:24 am

This thread is a spin-off from the Madison Metro thread, because I think it deserves it's own area.

From my observation, one of the biggest reasons for poor driving habits has to do with the sheer volume of traffic. My biggest pet peeve is the notion that a yellow light is code for "this is now the Indianapolis 500, and it's every idiot for themselves."

This is how people are killed...
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Postby Mister_A_In_Madison » Thu Apr 12, 2007 12:09 pm

This might have something to do with the perceived/real increase in racing-style driving...
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Postby wolfsbane » Fri Apr 13, 2007 12:53 am

If you are complaining about reckless driving in Madison, you must lead a sheltered life. The speed limits are generally 5 to 10 mph lower than comparable streets in almost every other US city I've driven around in. What's more, many people actually go the speed limit. This is something I've only seen in small towns and retiree-dominated areas/cities in Florida. That's just US cities. Even Atlanta seems slow and cautious in comparison to what little I've seen of Mexico, Europe, or Quebec.

I just got back from 3 months in Seattle and driving around here is like getting a swedish massage by comparison. When I hang around Madison for long enough, my only complaint is how many slow, overly cautious drivers there are, clumping up traffic or making me wonder whether they are in the process of OD'ing on valium.

The running yellow/red lights phenomenon seems to have taken hold everywhere, and it is stupid, but if you really find Madison driving shocking or unacceptably hazardous, you'll have to move to a small town or hang with the Amish or something. A city doesn't get any tamer than this.
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Postby Dulouz » Fri Apr 13, 2007 9:06 am

wolfsbane wrote:If you are complaining about reckless driving in Madison, you must lead a sheltered life.


So true. I just visited my brother in Toledo. He lives on a two lane road in a residential/industrial area. The speed limit is 50 mph. I don't think that Madison even has a 50 zone (except maybe on ewash between Zier and the Interstate). 45 is the norm expcept in the most residential neighborhoods where it drops to 30.

In one of the more bizarre postings, a zone by a park is 15 mph but speeds up to 20 by the neighboring school!
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Postby ConstantTraveler » Fri Apr 13, 2007 9:26 am

wolfsbane wrote: The speed limits are generally 5 to 10 mph lower than comparable streets in almost every other US city I've driven around in. What's more, many people actually go the speed limit. This is something I've only seen in small towns and retiree-dominated areas/cities in Florida. That's just US cities.


Hey, I grew up in the Houston area, and I drove right at the speed limit on the freeways. It was always my attitude that I'd rather drive comfortably (and 100% legally) and have other people have to worry about passing me if they so chose. Much easier and more relaxing than to have to be constantly passing other people.
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Postby narcoleptish » Fri Apr 13, 2007 10:05 am

Some of the streets posted 25 in madison are a little silly. I mean, bikes are passing you at 25. Narrow residentials and schools I understand, but atwood in front of olbrich??? The worst problems I encounter in madison are tailgaters, the ones where you can't see their bumper. That, and the red-light running bikes (I'm talking to you, Andy Moore).

I'm always amazed at how well traffic moves in places like mexico and costa rica. Everybody just kind of goes where they fit, lanes don't really matter, horns are used more in a utilitarian way than in anger, people park facing any which way, and it all seems to work great.

Does anybody know why we have the "park facing the direction of traffic" rules? I think that is one of the dumbest rules we have. Who cares?
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Postby lordofthecockrings » Fri Apr 13, 2007 10:11 am

narcoleptish wrote:Does anybody know why we have the "park facing the direction of traffic" rules?
It's a pretty obvious safety rule. Pulling out in the direction of traffic is a lot easier and safer than cutting across one (or more) lanes to merge with traffic flowing in the opposite direction.
It might seem silly on wide, residential roads with little traffic, but on any street with real traffic, that rule is undoubtedly a life-saver.
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Postby gargantua » Fri Apr 13, 2007 10:15 am

I am not in any way defending some of the driving in this town, but I can understand it. I think some of the risky behaviors are responses to individuals who are driving too slowly. A prime example is what happens when a group of cars get stuck behind a couple of people who are going 32 mph in the 40 mph zone of Mineral Point Rd. They get pissed, and the first chance they get they accelerate around the slower drivers....and maybe blow through a late yellow-changing-to-red that they wouldn't have had to deal with if it weren't for Mr. Pokey.

Point is, it would be safer, and we'd all be a lot happier, if people adhered to the speed limit. Not too fast, AND not too slow. They are equally hazardous in my opinion.
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Postby Veeder » Fri Apr 13, 2007 10:25 am

And while we're on the topic...what's the story with waiting at the line for a green light in a left-turn only lane?! On the East Coast we were TAUGHT to wait in the middle of the intersection and to turn when the light turned red.

In fact, in many places once the light turns red (and oncoming traffic stops) up to 3 cars turn left because they were "in the interesection". Works great; keeps traffic flowing.

In Madison (and Denver) I've waited through multiple cycles of greens because the person in front of me does not pull into the intersection. Not a big deal but very different than many other more aggressive cities. If anything I think Madison drivers are too passive (which can be dangerous too).
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Postby Veeder » Fri Apr 13, 2007 10:27 am

gargantua wrote:Point is, it would be safer, and we'd all be a lot happier, if people adhered to the speed limit. Not too fast, AND not too slow. They are equally hazardous in my opinion.


This would be great in a perfect world where speed limits actually reflected 2007 car technology. Most speed limits were determined 50 years ago and now are just used to generate revenue (via absurd speeding tickets).
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Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Fri Apr 13, 2007 10:44 am

Veeder wrote:... what's the story with waiting at the line for a green light in a left-turn only lane?!

See, it's all just a matter of perspective ...
My experience is that Madisonians are incredibly aggresive at barrelling through completely red lights, often at top speed and usually while talking on a cell phone. Nearly every time the wife and I are driving somewhere we both witness and comment on this phenomenom.

That said, Wisconsin's Motorists' Handbook clearly states that you should pull out to the middle of the intersection while waiting to make a left turn. Frankly, this seems wrong to me, as it means you (and possibly other cars) will be blocking the intersection until you have an opportunity to turn, which (and I've seen it happen) is bad news when an emergency vehicle needs to get through.
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Postby narcoleptish » Fri Apr 13, 2007 11:04 am

lordofthecockrings wrote:
narcoleptish wrote:Does anybody know why we have the "park facing the direction of traffic" rules?
It's a pretty obvious safety rule. Pulling out in the direction of traffic is a lot easier and safer than cutting across one (or more) lanes to merge with traffic flowing in the opposite direction.
It might seem silly on wide, residential roads with little traffic, but on any street with real traffic, that rule is undoubtedly a life-saver.


Yeah, I hear ya, but to me it doesn't seem any different than pulling out of a driveway or a parking lot to turn left, although I will admit the sight lines will not be quite as good. But I'm all for it if it cuts down on the number of people who blindly throw open their driver door into traffic.
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Postby dstol62 » Fri Apr 13, 2007 11:10 am

Prof. Wagstaff wrote:
Veeder wrote:... what's the story with waiting at the line for a green light in a left-turn only lane?!

See, it's all just a matter of perspective ...
My experience is that Madisonians are incredibly aggresive at barrelling through completely red lights, often at top speed and usually while talking on a cell phone. Nearly every time the wife and I are driving somewhere we both witness and comment on this phenomenom.


I agree with Wagstaff...Having lived in Madison for 40 of my 45 years, I can vouch for the fact that there was a time not that long ago when you could go a whole month without a major accident on the beltline or within the city limits.
Raising the speed limit will not reverse this trend. The original owner of Supreme Pizza on East Johnson was killed a number of years ago riding his bicycle on East Washington through no fault of his own. Raising the speed limit is not going to shorton people's reflex time when a potential accident unfolds.

Currently I stay off the beltline, because I got tired of morons who go 80, then tail you when you don't comply with their "rules" of speed. I also got tired of seeing your typical commuter who thinks that they can talk on the phone, eat their dripping sandwich and read the newspaper while smoking and adjusting their makeup (I have drivers doing all of the above on more than one occasion).
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Postby Sheppy » Fri Apr 13, 2007 11:39 am

A few weeks ago I was going down University Avenue and suddenly everyone's brake lights are on in the left lane, right lane totally clear. I get into the right lane to simply travel toward my destination at an appropriate rate of speed. The reason for the stoppage in the left lane? There was a minor fender bender in the intersection and everyone just had to hit their brakes to get a better look. Give me a break people.
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Postby fennel » Fri Apr 13, 2007 1:26 pm

wolfsbane wrote:If you are complaining about reckless driving in Madison, you must lead a sheltered life.


No kidding! I marvel at how, when the light changes to green, people seem to fall into a stupor pondering the implications. "Such a pretty green!" And the speed limits are artificially low here. I get the general sense that the so-call traffic engineers here are winging it. My favorite is having a marked lane of travel used as a parking area for all but two hours a day. Now that's ..., ahem, innovative.

Here's a quote from an article in the December 2006 issue of Economic Affairs:

Although widely accepted, traffic controls are an unnecessary evil, imposed on a road network by governments with no commercial incentive to ensure the free flow of traffic. Far from making our roads safer and less congested, traffic lights make matters worse. They take our eyes off the road, obstruct our progress and cause needless delay. In the process they damage our health, the economy and the environment. There is another way: remove controls and restore the common law principle of first-come, first-served â?? or â??filter-in-turnâ??, as itâ??s known in the Channel Islands. The optimum form of traffic control is self-control. The onus should be on government to prove otherwise.
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