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Madison driving peeves

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

Re: Madison driving peeves

Postby Walter » Wed Feb 01, 2012 2:29 pm

Ninja wrote:Flat iron corners at North Hamilton, East Johnson, and Butler – if I’m driving north on Hamilton (down the hill, towards Pinkus McBride and the lake) and I want to turn right onto East Johnson I need to be in the right lane, correct? The left lane isn’t designated for right turns in any way and the flat iron corners don’t change anything, do they? I’ve always considered a right turn from the left lane there to be an illegal turn but I see numerous people do it pretty much every single time I’m at that intersection. I’ve even seen quite a few squad cars pull the exact same maneuver (sometimes without even using a turn signal). And that’s fine because I turn from right lane to right lane, like I was instructed all those years ago. But occasionally some idiot on a bike will be riding against traffic in that right lane, or someone will step out into the street, mid-block, without looking as Madisonians seem prone to do, and then it’s a serious problem because the car that should be behind me is actually right beside me and I have no where else to go. Am I completely off base here?


After mulling this over a bit, look at the intersection as two lanes of a two-way street (outbound North Hamilton) turning onto a two lane one-way street (East Johnson). It is fine to turn right onto Johnson as long as you stay in the proper lane from Hamilton; the rightmost lane keeps to the rightmost lane, the adjacent lane keeps to the corresponding lane.

Now if you wanted to make a right turn onto North Butler Street, you can only turn from the rightmost lane on Hamilton and only on green as right turns on red from Hamilton are prohibited by sign. So the rightmost lane allows turns onto Butler and Johnson while the lane to the left allows a turn onto Johnson in the proper lane, a kinda left turn onto Butler outbound, or to proceed straight outbound on Hamilton. You can turn right on red from Butler onto Johnson into the proper lane and direction as it is not prohibited by sign.

Inbound drivers on Hamilton who wish to turn onto Johnson would have to yield right of way to drivers making the right turn into the leftmost lane on Johnson before making the left turn just as they would for drivers going straight through the intersection.

I know there is no signage or designation specifically allowing the right turn from the left lane on Hamilton but there is also no signage or designation stating it is prohibited. Whenever I run into a case where something isn't specifically prohibited and what I want to do is reasonable and safe, I do it. I turn right onto Johnson from that lane in a squad and in my own car but I put on my signal so everybody know what's up.

As for people and bikes (and other cars for that matter) being where they are not supposed to be, they are violating traffic laws and that's a part of having to drive in a city. Watch what you're doing and what everybody else is, too.

The other day I was on Doty in the rightmost lane to go onto Webster at the red signal. This knob pulls alongside in the lane to turn right onto King in front of the Great Dane and just sits there. I just knew he was going turn onto Webster by cutting into my lane from the clueless look on his face and when the light turned green he did it. I braked to prevent his sideswiping me or having him plow into the parked cars on Webster. Unfortunately, I was going home so I couldn't make the stop. The "WTF?!?!" look he gave me as if it were my fault was special too. Serenity now, insanity later.

It's nice to be in the right if there's a crash, but it's better to not be in one at all.
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Re: Madison driving peeves

Postby Ninja » Thu Feb 02, 2012 11:11 am

That makes sense, and in retrospect I’m a little embarrassed to even have brought it up at all because it’s so petty. I really appreciate your detailed response though. I’m jut not acclimating as well to Madison as I hoped I would, and its turning into one of these Andre Rison/Left Eye relationships where every tiny little perceived transgression gets added to the list and blown way out of proportion. Every single thing that people have mentioned here bugs the hell out of me, to the point that I’m angry every time I get behind the wheel, and growing more and more confrontational. I just need to bounce before it goes total Bad Moon on me, and I promise to do that before it reaches a point where you and I have to meet in less pleasant circumstances.
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Re: Madison driving peeves

Postby WestSideYuppie » Fri Feb 03, 2012 10:26 am

Whenever I'm tempted to get angry, I remind myself that if I moved to a Big City, I'd be putting up with exactly the same ****, but for 2 hours a day. For all we love to hate, being able to get almost anywhere in town in 10 minutes, more than compensates.
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Re: Madison driving peeves

Postby Petro » Fri Feb 03, 2012 1:42 pm

WestSideYuppie wrote:Whenever I'm tempted to get angry, I remind myself that if I moved to a Big City, I'd be putting up with exactly the same ****, but for 2 hours a day. For all we love to hate, being able to get almost anywhere in town in 10 minutes, more than compensates.


I was happiest when able to not drive when living in a "Big City". I was fortunate that at it's worst, my routine commute never exceeded ~45 minutes. (To cover 12 miles.)
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Re: Madison driving peeves

Postby Ninja » Fri Feb 03, 2012 8:14 pm

WestSideYuppie wrote:Whenever I'm tempted to get angry, I remind myself that if I moved to a Big City, I'd be putting up with exactly the same ****, but for 2 hours a day. For all we love to hate, being able to get almost anywhere in town in 10 minutes, more than compensates.


I don't think that's true though. I totally understand what Walter is saying, and it's not a big deal as long as everybody knows what's up and acts right. But I still don't think it's the right way to do things, legally or pragmatically.

In the immediate case, if you just pretend that Butler isn't there, you're basically dealing with a normal, hard, 90-ish degree right turn onto East Johnson from North Hamilton. So apply that reasoning to inbound West Wash turning right onto South Basset: also a two-lane, two-way intersecting a two-lane, one-way. You can turn right from the left or right lane. No sign saying you can't. Somehow it feels like that would be a problem.

It works out on Hamilton and Johnson I think more out of momentum and habit than any good reason. But a lot of people don't even signal their intentions. Some people get all swervy on the turn (and I don't that would be as big a problem if it were officially marked and a few lines were painted). People who aren't familiar with this tradition find it strange and uncomfortable. And I've seen it lead to a lot of close calls with pedestrians because that whole are is a bitch to cross on foot with cars flying in from all around as soon as you get a walk sign. I think it's going to be a problem as Madison gets bigger and busier.

I like to live in a pretty regimented culture, where everyone is on the same page, whether they're new or old or whatever. And it has to be that way out of necessity because the alternative would be total dysfuction. That just fits my personality, but that's not Madison. And that's fine. I'm not trying to impose my will or my kind of thinking on everybody else (another reason I'm kind of out of step here - hey-O!). There are places out there that are a better fit for me because they offer a subtly different overall cultural experience, so I'll just go try one of them.

Also it's super fucking racist here. That bothers me.
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Re: Madison driving peeves

Postby Ninja » Fri Feb 03, 2012 9:18 pm

And why do my comments take like 3 days to show up? I can't imagine that everybody is dealing with the same. What's that all about Madison?
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Re: Madison driving peeves

Postby Ninja » Mon Feb 06, 2012 2:53 pm

I realized after I posted (but before my three day quarantine) that I hadn't provided a very good example, but I think outbound West Main at South Broom is a better comparison because the right lane can only turn right given the on-street parking that starts up again on the far side of Broom, just like North Hamilton at East Johnson (again, if we somehow make Butler disappear for the sake of argument).

It might be desirable to have both lanes of Main turning right because most traffic seems to be going in that direction at rush hour, but I think that would be trouble because a lot of that traffic then wants to immediately turn left onto outbound West Wash, so there would be lane jumping and bottlenecking. I really don't think that a right turn from a left lane that's not somehow specially designated as a turn lane is ever legal, I think the law backs me up, and I think it’s that way for good reason. It's not like it's hard to designate an optional turn lane, paint some lane lines, and adjust the traffic controls and pedestrian crossing signals to reflect the volume of traffic expected off the dual turn lanes.

Problem solved, for the price of a sign and a little bit of paint, and it stands a very good chance of saving a life, or at least preventing significant injury some day. Not as much fun as trains, and Iraq War referenda, and plastic bag recycling ordinances, but I think it’s important stuff.
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Re: Madison driving peeves

Postby narcoleptish » Thu Mar 28, 2013 6:55 pm

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'll probably disagree with you. The proper thing to do when turning left at an intersection, and faced with another left turner coming at you, is to turn in front of each other. Right??

Because if you try to pass each other and then turn you could each be blocked by traffic behind each of your cars, thus creating a jam. Right??

I've just noticed an uptick in the number of people who continue to creep forward as I'm initiating the crossing of paths. It's the way I've always done it and I'm sure that's how I was taught in drivers ed.
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Re: Madison driving peeves

Postby bdog » Thu Mar 28, 2013 7:07 pm

Agreed with the only caveat being if one road has stop signs and the other does not and there is a median that the people with the stop sign can go to as an intermediate stop point then they might do it either way and it would be ok. Maybe.
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Re: Madison driving peeves

Postby fennel » Thu Mar 28, 2013 8:07 pm

narcoleptish wrote:Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'll probably disagree with you. The proper thing to do when turning left at an intersection, and faced with another left turner coming at you, is to turn in front of each other. Right??
Yes, to do otherwise during a driving test was an automatic failure when I took driver's ed. The other thing to remember was to move into the intersection and to keep the wheels straight until you begin the turn.
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Re: Madison driving peeves

Postby jman111 » Fri Mar 29, 2013 8:27 am

fennel wrote:The other thing to remember was to move into the intersection and to keep the wheels straight until you begin the turn.

A good practice any time you are waiting to make a left turn, whether or not you are in an intersection. It decreases the probability of being pushed into oncoming traffic if you are rear-ended.
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Re: Madison driving peeves

Postby BoogieBoy » Mon Aug 12, 2013 4:43 pm

What's with this trend of the walk signal turning on before the green light, giving a few seconds headstart for pedestrians before the light turns green for cars/bikes? It's not easy to get used to as a driver. When you see any light change, you naturally think it's go time. I haven't run any reds yet, but I've come close. Just witnessed a driver and a bicyclist run a red at King St. & Doty, both fooled by the walk sign. The biker had a meltdown and started yelling at the driver, not even realizing her hypocrisy.
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Re: Madison driving peeves

Postby Ninja » Tue Aug 13, 2013 7:08 pm

BoogieBoy wrote:What's with this trend of the walk signal turning on before the green light, giving a few seconds headstart for pedestrians before the light turns green for cars/bikes? It's not easy to get used to as a driver. When you see any light change, you naturally think it's go time. I haven't run any reds yet, but I've come close. Just witnessed a driver and a bicyclist run a red at King St. & Doty, both fooled by the walk sign. The biker had a meltdown and started yelling at the driver, not even realizing her hypocrisy.


Ummm, it gives a few seconds headstart for pedestrians before the light turns green for cars/bikes. By design. It's extremely common anywhere you've got a lot of traffic and a lot of pedestrians.

I think a better question is what is this about:

BoogieBoy wrote:When you see any light change, you naturally think it's go time.


No you don't. At least you shouldn't. There are lots of lights and they mean lots of different things to lots of different lanes. The only one you need to worry about when you're stopped at or approaching a red is the green one that applies to your lane.

I'm amazed at how many people here jump halfway into an intersection when they see a don't walk sign start flashing. Though to be fair, that's a pretty short trip when the initial stop completes three feet over the stop line, in the middle of the crosswalk.
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Re: Madison driving peeves

Postby BoogieBoy » Tue Aug 13, 2013 10:24 pm

It's not extremely common in general and certainly not historically, so as a result my brain has learned to expect green lights and walk signs to turn on in conjunction. Take one away randomly and if my brain isn't completely focused, it will naturally just assume they both changed and my foot will move to the gas pedal. I'll do my best to adjust, but no guarantees.
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Re: Madison driving peeves

Postby rabble » Wed Aug 14, 2013 10:27 am

BoogieBoy wrote: I'll do my best to adjust, but no guarantees.

Lemme know how that holds up in court.
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