PROPS & DISSES: Get your swerve on … please!

By on May 28, 2013

JACKSON HOLE, WYO –

Flashing sign urges motorists to merge like grown-ups. (Jake Nichols)

Flashing sign urges motorists to merge like grown-ups. (Jake Nichols)

Get your swerve on … please  DISS

Jackson motorists lack the gene responsible for proper merging. It’s that simple. Never has a community as a whole been so woefully sucky at merging as this one. WyDOT even had to erect a variable message sign imploring drivers to be less conscientious toward each other and start being a little more aggressive.

“Use both lanes,” the sign begged. “Take turns.”

What kind of unselfish public begins single-file queuing more than a mile from the actual merge sign? There have been days where motorists formed a single-file line clear back to McDonald’s, ignoring a perfectly usable right-hand lane. Bostonians are laughing at us.

Perhaps nobody wants to be “that guy.” You know, the one that blows past the patiently considerate only to squeeze in at the last minute by the grace of a non-New Yorker waving “go ahead then.” It may seem rude road behavior but in fact, to the unfeeling data sheet of the traffic analyst, it is the preferred method of merging. If anyone is going to get anywhere on time, a little selfishness works.

The summer of our content  PROP

“Wow, this town rocks!” said one tourist on Saturday. He said he had been to the Bar J Chuckwagon supper the night before. He caught the parade that morning and was on his way to the shootout before finding out there was a street dance after and a rodeo that night as well.

He’s right. This town was rocking. Thanks in great part to the coordination and planning efforts of the Chamber of Commerce, Jackson Hole had her best foot forward last weekend. The summer season goes from 0 to 60 around here, and with all apologies to Elkfest, which is mainly a dress rehearsal, Old West Days kicks off the vacation rush with a bang.

No community is more geared to pleasing the visitor than Jackson Hole. We’ve all been on vacation to other locales. Many of us have worked at tourist traps in other places. The austere beauty is here, complete with pristine natural features and the irreplaceable wildlife that lives in it, but this is the best damn destination vacation spot in America mainly because of the service industry.

Whether it’s a middle-aged fly fisherman, a family on their first road trip to Yellowstone, or a retired couple browsing the art scene, no one is more cared for than visitors to the Hole. Guides, wranglers, drivers, waiters, cashiers, ticket-takers, photographers, masseurs, lifeguards, caddies, curators, desk clerks; everyone is so helpful, nice and professional. That’s why people keep coming back. The Tetons get all the gawking attention (maybe the French named them perfectly) but the reason tourists keep coming back is exceptional hospitality.

Already this summer has a buzz. It’s a sensation of hope like never before. A feeling we’ve turned a corner, economically, or at least we’re tired of waiting for the light to change. This is our breakout summer. Smile now. Cash will flow and the people shall dance.

Stop anti-stop sign traffic DISS

The mayor tried it once – removing the needless stop signs on Snow King Ave. He and the council met with a little resistance, and they caved. Now the resistance is on the council in the form of Jim Stanford and there’s virtually no chance of pulling the unnecessary stop signs on the secondary east-west artery in Jackson even if the town is being hijacked by its own construction project at the five-way.

The argument that removing four-way stops on Snow King will result in higher speeds is faulty. Actually, the opposite is true. Study after traffic study shows four-way stop signs are the LEAST effective traffic-calming device out there and they often create speeding.

Four-way stop signs are less safe (motorists get in the habit of rolling through or not looking carefully when there is such low traffic volume that they’ve adopted a false sense of security) and cause higher speeds. Studies show motorists decelerate rapidly and accelerate rapidly to make up for perceived lost time. Stop signs are not “green.” Stopping and starting causes increased tire and engine noise for quiet neighborhoods in addition to producing wasteful asbestos dust from braking and more carbon emissions from “racey” startups.


About Jake Nichols

Jake is a work in progress.

2 Comments

  1. spacy

    May 28, 2013 at 11:25 pm

    WYDOT should be working 24/7 to finish the project. They got a new gas tax and the state has 16 billion in the bank. They can afford to finish their projects on an accelerated schedule. I feel like I’m cheating if I use the outside lane all the way to the merge sign and I know that other drivers will see me as trying to game the Q but I’ve found that most times I can squeeze back into to the bottleneck without a problem and without waiting for 30 cars to pass before rejoining the line. The Town has traffic problems like these because past planners failed to prepare a street layout to meet future needs. The Town / County still have a chance to meet future growth projections and expand routing options through Town, or around Town, before we end up with a permanent traffic jam.

    • Jules Kirby

      May 30, 2013 at 8:06 am

      Agreed. In large American cities this project would be worked on overnight. The police on Snow King at rush hour canceling the Stop Signs out are doing a great job with the congestion. The merging issue is one of comedy to me. Are we really in a tremendous rush where one car makes a difference. Ride your bike and take a yoga or meditation class. These activities are lauded while impatience is not.

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