Automobilism breeds insanity....
- I mean, just read this:
> From the Los Angeles Times
> THE STATE
> A cure for road rage: close road
> With angry drivers attacking flagmen, Caltrans will shut down part
> of California 138 until a project is done.
> By Hector Becerra and Tony Barboza
> Times Staff Writers
> June 7, 2007
> It started last year when Caltrans began widening California 138, a
> main east-west route in Southern California's fast-growing high
> desert region.
> Motorists angry at construction delays threatened road workers and
> damaged equipment. Also, flagmen have been attacked in what
> officials describe as bizarre incidents of road rage. Two workers
> were hit by cars and a third was shot with a BB gun.
> Now in an unprecedented response to ill will, Caltrans has
> announced it will close a portion of the highway beginning Monday
> to complete the project.
> California 138 connects two of Southern California's fastest-
> growing areas — the Antelope Valley communities of Palmdale and
> Lancaster and Inland Empire's high desert region. But the rural
> highway has become a major commuter route, and that has caused
> "This is growing pains," said Dennis Green, a Caltrans consultant
> on the $44-million widening project. "People here are not used to
> having congestion like they had in Los Angeles. It's here now, and
> they're having to learn how to cope with it."
> The highway project is a modest attempt to improve safety on the
> mostly two-lane route long known by locals as "Blood Alley" and
> "California Deathway" because of the number of accidents.
> For years, officials have talked about turning it into a full-
> fledged freeway, but the funding has never been available. A slew
> of new subdivisions in north Los Angeles County and the Inland
> Empire is prompting the latest push for a better road, perhaps a
> toll road connecting Palmdale and Victorville.
> "There's going to be tremendous growth in the future," said Brian
> Lin, transportation planning manager for the Metropolitan
> Transportation Agency. "Right now, it's not too bad, but if there's
> construction that blocks a road, then you run into problems."
> Road crews had no idea what they were in for when work began on the
> Flagmen working for contractor Skanska Inc. were soon targeted as
> tempers began to flare.
> They were cursed at and had objects, including a burrito, flung at
> them. Other workers' equipment was sabotaged.
> One motorist threatened to climb a water tower and shoot workers
> with a high-powered rifle, said Terri Kasinga, a Caltrans spokeswoman.
> For a while, the situation improved amid broad community support
> for the improvements. But since last fall, three workers have been
> physically attacked or otherwise harmed by motorists.
> In the first incident, last September, a driver refused to stop
> when he approached a flagging operation at the intersection of 138
> and California 2 heading toward Wrightwood
> "He drove through the job site, going in and around equipment and
> workers," Kasinga said. "Other flagmen told him he wasn't permitted
> through and he said, 'I'm not waiting. I'm not going back,' and
> just floored it."
> A flagman was struck and needed minor surgery for one of his legs.
> The driver was arrested.
> In late November, on the 138 at the landmark known as Mormon Rock,
> an elderly woman in a van drove through the site, striking another
> flagman and breaking his back. It's unclear if she was angry or
> disoriented, Kasinga said.
> "She ran into him, threw him up in the air and pinned him on the
> side of a hill," Kasinga said. "He was airlifted…. He's still out
> of work. He's got broken vertebrae in his back."
> Earlier this year, a flagman was stopping traffic when a van pulled
> up and then drove through without permission.
> "The flagman felt a sting on his leg," Kasinga said. "He had been
> shot by a BB gun."
> Kasinga said that incident prompted Caltrans' decision to close
> about three miles of the highway until Sept. 11. Cars will be
> detoured around the closed section — near California 2 and Hess
> Road — affecting not just daily commuters but those who use the 138
> as a shortcut to Las Vegas.
> Workers see the closure as perhaps the only way to ensure their
> safety. Officials considered keeping the road open with CHP escorts
> but decided the only way to prevent more attacks was to close it
> "People think of it as their road," said Mike Hayes, a Caltrans
> surveyor who works along California 138. "Now they have a detour.
> But people still want to go 65, and they don't have a lot of
> patience. They don't like it when you cut their route off."
> The highway was built at a time when the high desert population was
> But now, the road connects two fast-growing exurbs: the Antelope
> Valley in Los Angeles County and the Victorville/Hesperia area of
> San Bernardino County.
> Life in the high desert is a trade-off: affordable housing but
> tough commutes. But it's a trade-off a growing number of people are
> willing to make.
> Estimates from the Southern California Assn. of Governments predict
> the Antelope Valley will see its population jump from 288,000 to
> 537,000 in 20 years. Victorville and surrounding communities are
> expected to grow from 237,000 to 398,000 over the same period,
> according to SCAG.
> And that doesn't count the huge 60,000-home Centennial development
> planned for near the 138's terminus at Interstate 5.
> There is general agreement that the long-term solution is an east-
> west high desert freeway.
> But with no funds on the horizon, some have proposed the
> controversial idea of having a private entity build a Palmdale-to-
> Victorville toll road, at a likely price of $1 billion or more.
> Local leaders say something — either public or private — needs to
> be done.
> "If we don't invest in these places now, it's only going to be more
> expensive in the future," said state Sen. George Runner (R-
> Lancaster). "We have to do planning now, because this is where
> people are going to move to in the future."
> For now, the roadwork is more modest.
> Caltrans hopes to add 8-foot shoulders, a 4-foot median and two
> lanes to portions of the 138. Some of the work on the L.A. County
> stretch of the road has been completed. CHP Lt. Andria Witmer said
> the number of fatal crashes has gone down there, and that the wider
> stretches are safer.
> Area residents generally agree that the improvements are necessary
> but say the roadwork can be trying in a place with fewer people and
> cars than the L.A. Basin — and fewer alternative routes.
> "I've had quite a few tales of frustration," said Mike Clayton, 44,
> of Piñon Hills, who said his driving time has tripled. "But I would
> have wanted to write an angry letter, not run over someone's foot."
> Geun Yi, former manager of the Mountain Top Cafe at the
> intersection of the 138 and 2 highways, said his business suffered
> as the number of customers stopping at the roadside restaurant
> trickled to only a few each day.
> "My restaurant has been turned into a construction site," Yi said.
> Last month, the cafe closed its doors for good.
> Though he blamed the construction for the loss of the cafe, Yi
> reluctantly conceded that "widening the road has to be done. I am
> not against that. So many people have died on this road."
- Speaking of closed roads, the following from 7 June www.dutchnews.nl:
Driven mad -
Now here is a novel idea to solve the Netherlands’ endless traffic jam
problems - from the boss of the Dutch construction industry lobby group:
build new roads, but don’t let anyone drive on them. Elco Brinkman tells
the Financieele Dagblad today that this is the only way to stop the
country becoming gridlocked. New road projects are being put on hold
because of worries about air quality - of the 24 new roads, 16 cannot be
given the green light because of pollution fears. But at the same time,
the government has set aside €4bn to fund all the projects and it would
be a pity to let the cash go to waste. So, he says, why not let the
builders build the roads, but refuse to let drivers use them until the
worries about air quality have been soothed? Cars are becoming less
polluting all the time, so once air quality standards can be met the
roads can be given a ‘users licence’ and opened to traffic. Only a cynic
would suggest that the real advantage is that the road builders
themselves could continue to earn their fat cheques while all the
wrangling over permits and pollution continues. And of course, the fury
stuck in jams despite all the kilometres of untouched tarmac will lead
to intense lobbying for the new roads to be opened up to cars anyway,
permit or not.
Green Idea Factory
CZ-10100 Praha 10
++420 605 915 970
++420 222 517 832
Green Idea Factory,
a member of World Carfree Network
- Of course that is no solution.
The problem with cars "becoming less polluting all the time" is that
that process is inextricably linked to a manufacturing scenario in
which the motor industry is too powerful, too productive, and just
plain too big. We're better off with simpler, cruder, "dirtier" cars,
if they exist in vastly reduced numbers.
There is virtually no understanding that "fewness" and "numerousness"
are design characteristics of products and methods of production. The
current trend to an apparent increase in efficiency is functionally
bound to an increase in intrinsic numerousness. In other words, the
new cars can only exist in large numbers, and only if they are
consumed and replaced rapidly.
One of the myriad advantages of the pedestrian city is that (given a
suitable legislative milieu) it is capable of supporting a far better
motor industry, that is, one extremely small in scope, politically
not very powerful, locally-oriented and small-business-based, full of
creative vibrance, and otherwise not at all important in the scheme
--- In email@example.com, "Todd Edelman, Green Idea
Factory" <edelman@...> wrote:
> Speaking of closed roads, the following from 7 June
> Driven mad -
> Now here is a novel idea to solve the Netherlands' endless traffic
> problems - from the boss of the Dutch construction industry lobbygroup:
> build new roads, but don't let anyone drive on them. Elco Brinkmantells
> the Financieele Dagblad today that this is the only way to stop thehold
> country becoming gridlocked. New road projects are being put on
> because of worries about air quality - of the 24 new roads, 16cannot be
> given the green light because of pollution fears. But at the sametime,
> the government has set aside 4bn to fund all the projects and itwould
> be a pity to let the cash go to waste. So, he says, why not let thethe
> builders build the roads, but refuse to let drivers use them until
> worries about air quality have been soothed? Cars are becoming lessthe
> polluting all the time, so once air quality standards can be met
> roads can be given a `users licence' and opened to traffic. Only acynic
> would suggest that the real advantage is that the road buildersfury
> themselves could continue to earn their fat cheques while all the
> wrangling over permits and pollution continues. And of course, the
> of motoristslead
> stuck in jams despite all the kilometres of untouched tarmac will
> to intense lobbying for the new roads to be opened up to carsanyway,
> permit or not.
> Todd Edelman
> Green Idea Factory
> Korunní 72
> CZ-10100 Praha 10
> Czech Republic
> ++420 605 915 970
> ++420 222 517 832
> Skype: toddedelman
> Green Idea Factory,
> a member of World Carfree Network