Archive for November, 2015

A City Choking on its own Vomit

Tuesday, November 10th, 2015

According to Bloomberg,” nowhere do mid-century roadways and 21st congestion collide with such deadly force as in Atlanta where a tangle of twisting roadways and densely  packed moving traffic combine to create America’s extreme tipping point.

Furthermore, according to a study by the American Transportation Research Institute: “more than 250 trucks have flipped over since 2001 on Atlanta roads and more than 200 people have died in truck rollovers in Georgia during that time.”

Working part-time as a delivery driver three days a week,  I know a little something about Atlanta’s biggest enemy to sustainable growth: TRAFFIC CONGESTION>

There are several reasons for this tremendous surge in traffic congestion:

  1. The population for Metro Atlanta has increased dramatically from approximately 2 million around The Olympics in 1996 to 6 million at the present time.
  2. Apart from minor improvements, including the infamous inverted diamonds, delayed entrance on ramps to interstates, traffic calming measures and HOV toll roads, the road infrastructure is basically the same.
  3. Since the upturn in the economy a couple of years ago, the city has witnessed a vast increase in the construction of new developments. The modern trend these days is an emphasis on mixed use developments. Planners and architects are wrongfully assuming that citizens will live, work and play at the same location. This hypothesis works for a little while, but people change jobs and begin commuting again, shopping and eating habits continually change depending on the new fad
  4. The dramatic increase in trucks (sixteen wheelers in some instances) traversing the interstates seven days a week is overwhelming. There are certain regulations in which lanes trucks can legally use, but these are regularly ignored and abused.
  5. The interaction between car commuters and commercial trucks vying for time, space at great speed is a recipe for disaster. Accidents occur on a daily basis on the interstates. I285 forms a 60 mile loop around the metro Atlanta area, and just recently was voted the most dangerous interstate in the USA for accidents.
  6. Many commuters can be seen texting and sometimes holding a coffee while meandering their way through peak hour traffic. I’m sure other cities around the country experience a similar phenomenon, but we also have the “rubber neckers” who dramatically slow down to have a bird’s eye view of  vehicles pulled over to the side by the police or as a result of a “fender bender.”
  7. We have just experienced nearly a month of heavy rain, and Atlanta motorists don’t handle inclement weather very well. Their solution is to speed up with the intention of getting home out of the rain as quickly as possible.
  8. On these overcast days when light is at a premium, motorists are loathe to switch their headlights on, and using their indicators to switch lanes is viewed as  a sign of weakness to their machoism
  9. Police cars patrol the highways in pursuit of easy pickings. Jo Blow, the average motorist who has the temerity to exceed the speed limit by a few miles an hour, is an easy prey for speeding fines to load the coffers of  County and City Governments while the boy racers and maniacs go their own sweet way causing mayhem in their wake
  10. Then we have the yellow peril appearing in the early morning and afternoons: a plethora of school buses hitting the highways to pick up children at numerous and various staging points around the city. Naturally they hold up traffic considerably which lead to frayed nerves among the commuters.
  11. The underground transportation system, MARTA, is a complete farce; totally inadequate to accommodate a burgeoning population.

What you may  well ask is the solution? There isn’t a short term fix available unfortunately. It requires an extensive investment in improving the infrastructure. Somehow commercial traffic in the shape of monolithic trucks and commuter motorists have to be separated. At minimum, Atlanta needs another circular route, similar to I285 around the city, and a major extension to the MARTA system.

Unfortunately this is unlikely to happen anytime soon owing to the political and economic pressures that exist in this city. There are 10 counties in the Metro Atlanta region operating independently from one another who pay lip service to a proposal for a regional plan.

Memo to myself: move to another city, but do extensive research to prevent jumping out of the frying pan into the fire.

It’s Over and My Grandkids have gone back too!

Monday, November 2nd, 2015

The best team in the Rugby World Cup deservedly won through in the end. New Zealand defeated their arch rivals Australia 37-17 with Dan Carter picking up man of the match. But there’s the dilemma for me. Carter won the MoM award for his goal kicking performance and not for his pivotal role as fly half.  Every team in the tournament now plays the same style: crash, bang, wallop!!!

Most of the players are stretched across the field facing each other in rugby league style, and it’s all about the gain line. What happened to the dummy, side step or scissors movement? Line outs and scrums have been considerably reduced to side shows which isn’t a bad thing, but I don’t enjoy the game in the same way I used to.

Yes, Saturday’s game was a great exhibition of the modern style game, and everyone of the All Blacks display great handling skills which places them above the opposition. However size really matters in rugby now, and most of the three quarters are 6′ 4′ and 17 stone plus. What was significant in this World Cup was the fact that the four semi-finalists were Northern Hemisphere teams: New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, and Argentina. Wales can match these teams in terms of size and bulk, but they do tend to make crucial errors at inopportune times. When was the last time you saw a Welsh hooker running down the wing apart from Wind Street on a Saturday night?

Meanwhile, my daughter and her family flew over for a visit for 10 days. We rented a mini van and drove down to the Magic Kingdom in Orlando from Atlanta. It’s a 8 hour road trip including stops, but it’s a straight shot down I75. Experiencing Disney through the eyes of my 5 year old granddaughter and 2 year old grandson was truly magical and the long journey was well worth it. However, a DVD player in the mini-van was an essential item for entertaining the adults and children on board.

For anyone contemplating a trip to the Disney theme parks, take advantage of the “fast pass system” which allows you to” jump the queue” on some of the rides. I will never forget  my grandson shouting continuously “Mickey Mouse, Mickey Mouse, Mickey Mouse” as we made our way around the Park. It was hot and crowded for a Monday in late October, and copious amounts of bottled water were consumed.

At the end of an eventful day the grandkids were understandably beginning to wane, and my wife and I grabbed the opportunity to ride Space Mountain and Thunder Mountain. Well Disney World brings the kid out in everyone!

We returned to Atlanta and visited one of its main tourist attractions, Georgia Aquarium. My grandson took full advantage of the wide open spaces and ran amok  screeching ” Goldfish! Goldfish! Goldfish” having been cooped up in mini-van for 8 hours the previous day.

Unfortunately they had to fly back to Blighty the night before and missed Halloween. Not to be out done, my granddaughter looking pretty as a picture in her Elsa dress, and aided and abetted by her brother dressed as “The Old Man of the Sea,” arranged for her own trick or treat at our front door. Priceless.