Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Signal is Always Greener on the Other Side

Image credit: http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/01836/trafficlights_1836837a.jpg
Ever wonder why the people of Wylie often have hostile resting faces? I've got the answer - traffic lights.

What is with the traffic lights in Wylie along 544? I feel like I am in traffic hell every time I have the displeasure of driving down that road. There are so many lights that during rush-hour traffic, you had better be in your designated lane because heaven help you if you need to change lanes before the next traffic light stops the mass. Hells, you barely get moving before you get stopped again. Every intersection brings a new Dr. Seuss chorus of, "Big F, little f what begins with F?"
Dr. Seuss

At any given time of the day, cars are stopped at every light along the route, even during rush hour when drivers are forced to close their eyes, hold their breath and change lanes, hoping they make it before the flood is stopped yet again. And with every new business that goes in with expansion, we add a new light of terror - yippee.

It's not like this is new or anything and we are waiting for them to fix the lights after recent construction; this has gone on for years.

I'm not alone in my irritation either, because I often see people at the front of the line making jackrabbit starts and speeding in an attempt to make it past the next light. Gee, and I thought traffic lights were supposed to help manage traffic and keep people safe? Silly me.

The lights have become the butt of many a social media joke over the years as well. Seriously, do our city administrators not travel the same roads we do? Kind of seems like they don't.

Still, even if the city was not responsible for the lights, it is well within their power to do something about it. Even in the countrified town of Lavon, they called TxDOT to manage their lights during construction and accidents on 78 to help their people out. And hey, TxDOT can be very responsive too. Honestly, it's not rocket science.

The lights are beyond ridiculous. I swear, it's like running the gauntlet and Wylie's working citizens are the one's being flogged.

Just in case you have not heard, lights are often set to force traffic to stop and perhaps entice drivers to shop at the array of stores flanking each stoplight. Yup, it's a thing.

Newsflash: Wylie is not a boutique destination, it's a, "I have a list and I need to get in and out of the Target big box store before I pick up the kids after school," kind of destination and the lights are not helping the people out. The lights are just pissing them off and adding to those scowl lines.

Whatever the trick, it's annoying, unproductive and wasting gas, and it's not parting people with their money when they would potentially have to negotiate six lanes of heavy traffic to make it into one of those stores.

Adding to the conundrum, Wylie is welcoming the new Collin College campus on Country Club along with additional traffic from 4000+ students, but they can't even get something as simple as a traffic light right, let alone two or three traffic lights.

Oh man, and don't even get me started about Country Club where, you guessed it, the few lights are also timed to stop you at every one of them. For progress in Wylie we certainly aren't very advanced when it comes to traffic management.

If you want to see how lights are done right, just take a drive down California's streets. With the butt-load of cars, their lights are not on timers. When a car approaches a light and there is nobody around, it changes just as the car approaches and then quickly changes back to green for the main road. Imagine that?

If there is nobody in the left turn lane, that light doesn't signal and make others wait for it to cycle through either. Oh, and in some areas after rush hour in the evening many of the lights turn to flashing yellow for the main artery, since a light is really useless when traffic is low.

And this was all back in the '80s when I lived there. So if loony Californians could figure that out thirty years ago wouldn't you think Wylie could figure that out now, bless our little hearts.

These simple traffic management strategies are the antithesis of lights in Texas where a completely deserted Country Club road could still promise a long wait at 10:00 p.m. on a Wednesday, despite Wylie's example of un-timed lights which can still stop you for irritatingly long lengths of time around town.

For goodness sake, even if someone approaches to turn right at one of our lights, it changes for them even after they are long gone. And let's not even get started on the left turn lights that allow two to three cars through during the lunch hour at 544 and Country Club, when an entire traffic line exists that would rival rush hour traffic. How stupid is that?

Image credit: http://i1.wp.com/www.danthatscool.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/little_rascals_hi_sign.gif
Still, if you want to promote Wylie, and you know it's so flipping far off the beaten path, why would you want to make the commute out of town to jobs and then back in again a virtual nightmare? Wouldn't you want to hasten people in and welcome them to your bosom? Even Preston Road from Plano to Richardson to Dallas gets it right, and if any road in Dallas had more shopping available to entice drivers, it's that road.

Wylie has taken a play right out of the playbook of those liberal areas like New York and Washington DC  where the dingle-berries believe access for bicyclists, pedestrians and a leisurely downtown shopping trip are in order rather than ease of getting home to your family so maybe, just maybe you can, uh, eat together before the kiddos run to soccer practice. Oh no, they want to part you from your dollars, your family and evidently your greenhouse gas emissions, while complaining about gas guzzling vehicles and our ozone disappearing. Um, hello?

Any way you look at it, the light situation is completely asinine when there is nothing worth stopping and looking at. We look silly and unless the lights are changed to something reasonable, our stony demeanor isn't going away anytime soon.

We may be one of the best places to live according to a couple of magazines, but we certainly aren't one of the most logical.