Who moved my lane?
July 18, 2006
When considering the traffic congestion coming into or out of Aspen, I would suggest that the “powers that be” consider taking 30 minutes to read the book, “Who Moved My Cheese?”In the book they discuss how one of the greatest impediments to production concerns the problem of “bottlenecks.”I’m sure in the last 30 years, much greater minds than mine have pondered the solution, but let me say what I think creates this problem, and what could cure it.In observing the traffic flow during peak hours, I think that unfortunately, the greatest portion of the problem stems from the behavior of “local” drivers (those residing somewhere in the Roaring Fork valley). When coming into Aspen from the West, the first of the “bottlenecks” occurs at the stoplight at Buttermilk. This is a place where we force two lanes to become one; and due to the anger felt from those drivers obeying the HOV lane toward the drivers of cars with only one vehicle occupant abusing the HOV lane restrictions, who now wish to jam in front of them, they attempt to wall the cars out, causing traffic to bunch up and lose its flow.The second “bottleneck” occurs when cars fail to obey the signs dictating how to properly go through the roundabout. This is when some drivers decide they know “the secret” to getting through the roundabout faster. Instead of being in the right lane because they are turning right onto either Maroon Creek, or Castle Creek Road, they zip around all of the drivers who are obeying the signs traveling in the left lane, and then try to wedge themselves into the merge just East of the roundabout. This again causes the drivers who are trying to “do the right thing” to feel resentment at the “cheaters,” and they try to keep the cars from merging, again causing traffic to lose its flow. (This same problem occurs during the afternoon commute, when some drivers entering the roundabout heading West, ignore the left lanes proper usage of allowing vehicles to take a left onto either Maroon Creek or Castle Creek Road, and again attempt to scam the other drivers and head downvalley instead.)In my opinion, these “bottlenecks” are what cause the bulk of the traffic problem, and they could all be easily remedied, probably within about 30 days. How, you may ask? Since some people are apparently much more important/late/self-centered/stupid/arrogant/rude/un-educated, (choose whichever fits your abuse), and unwilling to “do the right thing” on their own, they could be helped by the police to make a new choice. By the police “re-educating” the populace into obeying the traffic rules and signs when approaching these areas, they will speed up the flow and speed of the traffic through these trouble areas. By closely monitoring the behavior of the drivers, and issuing tickets to stop this behavior, more of the drivers now abusing the traffic rules for their own benefit would move over to the left lane and take away the “bottleneck.” If past psychological data is any indicator, it should only take about 30 days for people to learn the new “habit” of driving correctly through these areas. And as a bonus, it would not only fix the traffic flow problem, but it would also generate a lot of extra revenue for the city, AND it would reduce the road rage of those of us trying to obey the rules for traffic flow in the HOV lane, and the roundabout.I realize this is a very easy potential fix; and I, for one, would love to see what affect it might have upon the traffic flow. (Hint: This could be tried by the drivers themselves, without police supervision.) The failure of the police to monitor the HOV lane, and the abuse of the merges at the “bottlenecks” I have mentioned, helps create the problem, since some people are too selfish to “do the right thing.” By allowing this behavior, we not only make the commute more difficult on everyone, but we teach our visitors to abuse these traffic rules for their personal benefit … just like we do!This way, maybe we can talk about this problem for another 30 years.Michael Yoder is a resident of Aspen.
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