Sunday, January 08, 2006

Starvation on City Streets

No, not of the gastronomic variety. I mean the Computer Science version.

I was driving south on the three-lane Paradise Road in Las Vegas yesterday when I encountered a curious phenomenon: the right (and right-turn) lane was extremely slow and barely crawled along while the traffic on the left two lanes was perfectly smooth. My initial hypothesis was that the intersecting road (Convention Center Drive) must be clogged badly, which in turn must have caused right-turn traffic to back up on Paradise Road. But that hypothesis was soon given the lie when I noticed cross-traffic zipping by whenever it had a green light!

And then it hit me. The fault, I realized, lies not in cross-traffic but in pedestrians! I remembered that a green light for a right turn is coincident with a green light for pedestrians wishing to cross straight on as well. And pedestrians have right of way. So, what happens when you have an immense amount of foot traffic looking to cross at all times, as was the case yesterday with CES in town? Traffic going straight on was fine, as were left turns (which had dedicated signals) but the right turns were completely trumped by the pedestrians. (What of a right turn on red, you wonder. That option was comprehensively ruled out by the volume of cross-traffic from the other two directions.)

Unfortunately my powers of deduction did not help me extricate my car from the jam, trapped as I was in the right lane with traffic whizzing by my left far too fast for me to venture a lane change. And so, it took on the order of 15 minutes to travel 25 yards for a turn.

Moral of the story: We need dedicated right-turn lights!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Moral of Story: You need better lane changing skills :)


1/13/2006 4:04 PM  

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