Sunday, July 27, 2008

Madison’s Traffic Problems

Madison has some unusual traffic problems even in summer with most of the University of Wisconsin students away for the summer. It will be worse when the college kids return.

I have lived all across the country, including in cities that dwarf Madison. I also have driven on several college campuses. Madison’s traffic problems were especially noticeable when I drove to central Wisconsin and back, arriving in Madison near bar time on Saturday. Clusters of pedestrians were jay-walking at random.

When the college students return, they pose unusual traffic hazards. Jay-walking students now have their eyes and ears glued to cellular phones instead of watching out for cars. A number of foreign students appear to have obtained their driver licenses by correspondence courses because they seem not to know how big their cars are to drive or park.

Although operating autos safely on the Beltline is an area of emphasis in public service announcements, speed and using turn signals is still random. The speed limit on most of the Beltline is 55 mph. I usually drive 60 mph and am often passed on both the right and left by people driving at least 70 mph.

I work on Mineral Point Road near the Beltline. I currently take the Beltline to work to avoid the construction backup at Mineral Point and Gammon. When there is no road construction, I can get to work in 10 minutes by taking Mineral Point Road. The posted speed limit on Mineral Point is 40 mph. Some drive 50 mph but some drive 30 mph. This is also true of University Avenue between Whitney Way and near campus.

What especially galls me when I am walking is the sheer number of those riding bicycles on the sidewalk. I am not heartless; I am fine with parents and little kids riding on the sidewalk. When I was a student, a lucky few were bicycle enforcement officers, empowered to write tickets for riding on the sidewalk, blowing through red lights and riding in an unsafe manner. Bicyclists operated safely to avoid tickets.

Tickets seem in short supply in Madison for autos and bicycles operated unsafely, however. Police in Madison seem to have their hands too full to respond to anything but accidents instead of preventing them.

7 comments:

Chuck said...

Madison actually allows riding on the sidewalk unless buildings abut it.

http://www.ci.madison.wi.us/trafficEngineering/documents/SidewalkBicycling.pdf

Anonymous said...

Drivers, bikers and peds in this town are laughably incompetent. Too many small town and suburban yahoos that don't know how to act.

Anonymous said...

my favorite thing to yell at idiots on the road is "Go back to mount horab"

Anonymous said...

i have also noticed some "curiosities" about madison traffic. my favorite is something i call the "madison drift". this is when a car waits until the last possible moment to pull out into traffic, and to turn in front of you. it's that slow drift into your right of way i'm talking about, not the quick darting action you see in other cities. braking hard is usually required when the drifter decides to go. every age group does it. men and women do the drift with equal regularity. a madison mystery to be sure.

Mark G. Michaelsen said...

LOL. "The Madison drift." That's a perfect phrase. In the winter, there is a "Madison drift" of another kind. That is piles of snow in traffic islands and the entrance/exit from parking lots that prevent anyone from seeing if traffic or pedestrians are coming.

Some people who lives up north have little orange balls on their car antennas so they can be seen above the drifts and most gas stations have them near the brushes/ice scrapers. I don't even know where to get it here.

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