Mind your manners in merging
On summer afternoons traffic on Main Street heading out of Aspen moves at a snail’s pace, and the Aspen Police Department is taking advantage of the sluggishness for some public education.Early this week they’ll be handing out flyers titled “Merge with manners” to unlucky souls crawling through the S-curves. The point, said Assistant Police Chief Richard Pryor, is to make it clear that using Main Street’s left lane isn’t “cheating.””Traffic is getting backed up, and it’s obvious people are getting frustrated with the volume of traffic,” he said. “But if you look down Main Street, the left-hand lane is always partially empty. It’s a two-lane highway, and it’s perfectly acceptable for people to use both lanes getting out of town.”Pryor knows, as do many local drivers, that motorists in the left lane who zip by the line of cars to their right in order to merge closer to the S-curves often have a hard time getting over to the right. The “cheating concept” ingrained in many drivers makes them likely to hug the bumper in front of them, trying not to make eye contact with a driver to the left who needs to merge.”People are hot, bothered and frustrated after a day of work, and they just want to get home,” he said. “Politeness is forgotten about. Since traffic is moving so slowly, we thought we’d get out there and hand out flyers as people go by.”The message to merge with manners is basically this: Drivers should use both lanes on Main Street heading west and take turns merging between 5th and 7th streets. Drivers should use turn signals when making lane changes and be considerate of others.”These are really basic rules,” Pryor said. “It’s fair to let one car in in front of you and to be considerate of someone else. In turn, other people will also be considerate.”But just in case of any ill will out there, the flyer also includes a blurb on dealing with road rage, including getting a driver and vehicle description and license plate number. Those reporting others’ rage can call the communications center at 920-5310 or use your cell phone to call the Colorado State Patrol for free at *CSP, or *277.”Be polite when you merge, signal so people know what you want to do and give other people a break,” Pryor said. “It may not make traffic faster, but hopefully it’ll make things less stressful.”Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is email@example.com
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