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Monday, September 8, 2014

How to Fix #Austin Traffic and Drive like a Nice Texan

Alright, alright.  We all know that Austin is growing up.  We're still trying to figure out how the infrastructure(s) of Austin are going to handle the increased population.  In the meantime, we can all complain about traffic OR we can learn to be more considerate drivers.  Now that our roads are congested more than our sinuses during Cedar Season, every little thing drivers do to create inefficiency or to disrupt flow can have a big impact on the bigger picture.

Here's some ways to help the Austin traffic situation along.  None of these are groundbreaking, and these aren't the only things that you can do.  Some of the more obvious ones I won't be talking about are 1. opting to work from home if possible 2. altering your schedule to avoid peak traffic hours 3. taking public transportation  5. car pooling or 6. biking.

1A. Quit blocking lanes, especially turn lanes.  Some of our intersections are big enough for two vehicles.  Quit blocking the lanes if someone else needs to use another lane.  Here's an example. 

For crying out loud, scoot over and the let the person behind you get where they need to go.  My persona rule of thumb: If I'm close to the light, (like the <5 adjust="" and="" br="" cars="" disrupting="" don="" flow="" for="" from="" get="" have="" i="" in="" lane.="" lane="" light="" m="" means="" nbsp="" not="" of="" people="" plenty="" right="" slow="" t="" the="" to="" turn="" turning="" you.="">

1B. Another variation is to scoot up! If someone behinds you needs to get by to get into their lane, by all means, scoot up!

1C. Use the turn lane.  They are meant to be used by people who are turning.  If you need to slow down or stop to make a turn, do that in the turn lane.  The driving lanes are for driving, not stopping or slowing if a turn lane is available.  If I need to post a diagram of this, then maybe you need to start using public transportation.

1D. If you're in line for a drive thru, please make sure you aren't actually blocking traffic.  Other people might be trying to get by.  Either leave them some space or go park your car and go into the restaurant.  Just because you are waiting for to order food, everyone trying to get by don't need to wait for you.  There's no need to grid lock a parking lot. 

2. When you see a parking spot, take it.  Unless you need to park someone to charge your electric car or you are qualified to use a handicapped parking spot, you don't need a special parking spot.  And don't take two spots.  Pick a spot.  Stay in the lines.

Here's an example of something that did happen:

I'm backing up to leave a parking lot.  Someone comes behind me and wants my spot - and only my spot.  My spot is not particularly special, and it isn't even close to the entrance of the building.  I'm not sure why someone would want my spot over many of the other spots open right next to me.  The car behind me not only blocks traffic in the parking lot; she also caused traffic to back up into the street.  Yes, that's right.  People in the street were stopped on a busy street.  While this situation doesn't directly affect me, it did disrupt traffic flow.  That's not cool.  Not cool at all.

3. Communicate with your fellow driver.  I can't predict where you want to go.  I can't adjust my activity to accommodate you if I don't know what you're doing.

3a. Use your blinker.  If you need to turn or change lanes, use you blinker.  Practice using it consistently, even if no one is around.  Make it a habit so that you'll communicate consistently.  Not using your blinker probably isn't as severe of a mishap as running lights or cutting people off, but it can streamline traffic flow because people can adjust to one another.

3b. When you do communicate with others on the road, and they adjust their driving to help you, give them the Texas Wave.  Not the birdie. I'm talking the friendly Texas Wave.  This is just a term for communicating thanks, acknowledgement, and a general pleasant salutation.  You can the "Texas Wave" three different ways.  I've illustrated them in the video above.

They are the 1. old fashioned wave (just like it sounds) 2. Two second flash (turn on your flashers for two flashes) and the 3. Digit dance (keep your hand on the wheel and lift two fingers).  You do this because Texans are nice.  If you just got to Texas, be nice on the road.  Smile because dang it, you're in Texas now. 

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