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Lookin’ for cars, in all the wrong places…

These are not the mangled lyrics to a “country” song.

This is what transportation folks were doing earlier in the week on a bridge that Airway takes over I-580 in Livermore, California.

Awhile ago, while I discussed a “High Collision Area Ahead” electric sign near the Livermore Airport, I said that I would return to another traffic problem, the northbound Airway to westbound I-580 onramp, now with metering lights, that has REALLY messed up morning traffic in the area.

I actually got a chance to lift the visor of my full-face helmet on Tuesday morning, and yell something of the kind to a group of highway-monitoring folks who were seated in lawn chairs on the bridge over I-580, facing the I-580 traffic coming from the east. I had just spent a hazardous few minutes dodging cars who were “parked” on northbound Airway for at least 1/2 mile – almost back to the “High Collision Area” at Airway and Kittyhawk Road. (Motorists, please share the road with motorcyclists. It is not their fault that you chose to drive the vehicles that you did.) I do not know who the highway-monitoring folks were. FBI folks often wear clothing emblazoned with “FBI” so that they do not get shot accidentally in tense standoff situations. Perhaps the highway-monitoring folks (Livermore? CALTRANS? Feds?) do NOT wear their organization on their clothing for the SAME REASON, in tense traffic situations! :-)

In all fairness, I want to commend those highway-monitoring folks, whoever they were, for several things. Firstly, I want to commend them for following up on the effects of installing metering lights on traffic flow at that intersection. Secondly, the metering light on the onramp, which was still “too dumb” to detect motorcyclists in the carpool lane of the onramp last week, now seems to be able to detect them, at least me and the motorcyclist ahead of me this morning! Congratulations, mysterious highway-monitoring folks, and the organization(s) that you represent! Thirdly, traffic in the area appeared to be SEVERELY messed up only on Tuesday (the day that the highway folks were present)! On other days this week (so far), the traffic was either GREAT or moderately messed up (which is kind of “average” for the Bay Area). :-)

My only criticism is that the mysterious folks on the bridge seemed to be concerned ONLY with the traffic flow on I-580 westbound. Traffic in that direction has actually been better lately, probably not so much in response to metering as in response to all of the folks who have lost their jobs recently and who are no longer commuting to work! My suggestion would be for the highway-monitoring folks to move their lawn chairs and clipboards to the Livermore Airport, along Airway, and note the large parking lot that they have created. Perhaps they could even get a warm beverage from the airport or from HK Cycles.

In any case, those highway-watching folks would find the cars that are not slowing traffic on westbound I-580, because the cars can’t even GET that far! :-) Instead, the cars are backing up to another intersection that has been identified as a “High Collision Area” (no, no obvious attempt to fix the “High Collision” intersection has occurred).

(…and don’t be afraid to wear jackets with your organization, folks, even if you are CALTRANS! :-) We really do appreciate your followup on changes in traffic flow! Hopefully, you will make traffic better.)

(Note added October 21, 2008: They’re B-A-C-K! The anonymous folks [still no identifying letters on their jackets] in the lawn chairs were on the Airway bridge over I-580 again this morning, and the metering light for the carpool lane was not only detecting motorcycles, it was detecting them QUICKLY [almost before I stopped]! This afternoon, the “lawnchair brigade” was on the San Ramon Road exit bridge over I-580 in Pleasanton. I gave them a “thumbs up” from the bike but they did not notice. I remain convinced that the improved traffic on I-580 results from layoffs, rather than “traffic tweaking,” but only a better economy will tell!)

(Note added on November 7, 2008: Well, TWO of us motorcycles sat side by side next to the metering light in the carpool lane of the onramp to I-580 from Airway today, with a car behind us! Guess what! The ##@*&&# detector did not detect us! Anonymous highway folks – PLEASE FIX THIS DETECTOR! There are few things more frustrating than a detector that creates a long line of cars trying to enter the highway because of a technical defect or human error in setting the sensitivity. And of course the police would be happy to ticket motorcyclists “running the (defective) light….”)

-Bill at Cheshire Cat Photo™

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