Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Sail Away

Yesterday, I-10 became impassable at the "Mound Underpass" in New Orleans. (Source: CNN.com)

Monday, August 29, 2005

Get Out Of Town!

Roadgeeks' response to New Orleans' hurricane evacuation (unsurprisingly) focused on the tactical. Said one report:

"'Highways in Mississippi and Louisiana were jammed as people headed away
from Katrina's expected landfall. All lanes were limited to northbound
traffic on Interstates 55 and 59 in the two states.' [and maybe I-10
Westbound only by now, too]"

That's fairly odd -- and most likely a rather disconcerting driving experience: think of looking at the back of signs! It certainly doesn't match the image provided by Xinhua (shown here), of cars clogging (presumably) "the 10." In disaster scenarios, making the entirety of an interstate one-way does seem to be a sensible approach. After all, they do it on Sundays in Rio de Janeiro for no apparent reason on the highways along Copacabana beach.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Peaking because of Peking?

While not surprising, today's Sunday NY Times article on "The End of Oil" is disturbing. As Peter Maass suggests, when the true end of oil does come, barring some new (hydrogen-based!?!?) technology, we're in for drastic lifestyle change:

"In the past several years, the gap between demand and supply, once considerable, has steadily narrowed, and today is almost negligible. The consequences of an actual shortfall of supply would be immense. If consumption begins to exceed production by even a small amount, the price of a barrel of oil could soar to triple-digit levels. This, in turn, could bring on a global recession, a result of exorbitant prices for transport fuels and for products that rely on petrochemicals -- which is to say, almost every product on the market. The impact on the American way of life would be profound: cars cannot be propelled by roof-borne windmills. The suburban and exurban lifestyles, hinged to two-car families and constant trips to work, school and Wal-Mart, might become unaffordable or, if gas rationing is imposed, impossible. Carpools would be the least imposing of many inconveniences; the cost of home heating would soar -- assuming, of course, that climate-controlled habitats do not become just a fond memory."

Woe betide the nation whose means of mobility and transport rest almost entirely in the hands of Texas tea pushers.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

No Hug in the HOV Lane

On Long Island, when the going gets tough, motorists will do whatever it takes to keep going. Dusky summer Sundays are such a time, when the western Nassau County exits of the LIE become thick with cars. Traffic moves in fits and starts. But it's at times like these, while ambling along The Expressway, that being in the thick of things yields fascinating glimpses into the local driving headspace. As Interstate 495 wends its way along the periphery of what once were the grounds of gracious estates, motorists break with frenzied caution, as limited sight distances prevent high-speed confidence. Skittish and uncertain, we worry about the road we can't see ahead as we would about our children roaming Manhattan alone late at night.

In the left-most lane, riddled with restrictions on weekdays, those of us who thought we could one-up the thousands hobbling by in three unrestricted travel lanes to our right, are bested by broken busses or scared old ladies with a tendency to drift. Unwilling to let the ineptitude of others stand in their way, frustrated HOV riders willy nilly shove their way into non-HOV lanes, crossing thick, bold white lines with hapless abandon. Fine + 3 Points. Others in the hulking HOV lane try to accelerate like lusty bulls, or Valkyries charging toward Valhalla. With nowhere to go, they halt, looking bruised as rebuffed parents being told that IPI, AP, and other honors courses are not available for their children. As this Macadam madness ensues, I have no choice but to slow down, to watch in horror, to dismiss some back-of-mind interest in MORE police oversight, and take over from the long, strange road down which iPod shuffle has taken me.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Welcome to New Jersey

The fresh design of New Jersey welcome signs is worth more than a passing glance. Thanks to Raymond C. Martin (and his NJFreeways site) for the pic!