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Saturday, September 6, 2008

More city waste - on traffic lights

I can't count the number of times I've been stopped at a city light when there's no traffic waiting at the other direction. I've wondered before how much money they spend keeping up this waste of electricity. At least now I know how much they cost over all: Cleveland paid FirstEnergy $4 million for this dubious traffic control.

I'll readily admit that I am no traffic flow expert. But in my admittedly uneducated opinion, this represents pure waste on the city's part. I can't stand driving in the city because of the number of times I have to stop for no reason. If nobody's coming for the next mile, and you can clearly see that there is no other traffic around, you shouldn't have to sit at a traffic light for nothing. Lee road south of shaker is one of the offenders. I would say at least half the lights on Carnegie never have cars waiting when I am stopped.

Even stop signs are an issue. Although they don't waste electricity like lights do, they still waste gas when you have to stop and go so much, thus increasing wear on your car and reducing your gas mileage. On the road I take to get to the highway, Valley View, there are at least two or three completely pointless stop signs. One of them is there only because it's a sharp curve in the road. Given the amount of traffic I see on the road, I simply cannot justify having four way stop signs there. The least they could do is have stop signs in one direction and remove them in the other. Traffic could then flow smoothly on the busier road.

Why do they do this, if there's really no need? I would guess money. I've been pulled over two or three times for running stop signs. I was driving the speed limit, I slowed down and make sure nobody was coming for a long time, and just went. I did absolutely nothing wrong, yet I still ended up having to pay several hundred dollars directly to the state. Not to mention the increased cost on my insurance, even though I am actually a pretty careful driver nowadays. I never speed anymore or drive recklessly.

The state needs to feel like it is doing something important, so they heap all sorts of regulations on us that do absolutely nothing to improve safety. In fact, there are an alarming number of accidents despite all of the state's vain attempts at traffic control. They are even stepping up control with red light cameras at some intersections.

There have been studies that these cameras actually increase collisions. Use google if you're interested in that. It's all about the money and control to these people. They take our money to use in enforcing and implementing these pointless regulations. Then they take it again when we violate them. Perhaps private ownership of roads would bring some sanity back to driving.

I can understand having traffic lights at some busy intersections, like Euclid and East 9th. That's not the issue here. The issue as far as I'm concerned is excessive traffic control and congestion on city streets. A clear majority of lights I see in the city where there's no traffic, even at busy hours, could be downgraded to stop signs. Many four-way stop signs could easily be downgraded to two-way stop signs on side streets only.

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