Tuesday, July 10, 2007

High Occupancy - Low Intelligence

This is only the first of what will be many rants about driving in, around and out of the city.

You wonder if the people who design our highways actually ever drive on them. Take for example the DVP / 401 clusterfork. There is hardly a time of day or night when traffic doesn't bunch up in this ill-conceived monstrosity of transportation planning.

Most of the congestion started with the creation of the HOV (high occupancy vehicle) lane. on the southbound 404. The basic idea is that people wanted to leave Newmarket in such a hurry that they packed every available car.

The goal of dedicated high occupanct lanes was to mutate human DNA into making us all car-poolers. Of course it will never work. We hate to car pool. Car pooling adds even more time to an already long commute, because you have to drive around the neighbourhood picking other people up, and then taxi them all to their offices.

Oh, and when you drop everyone off at their work in Markham, Newmarket or East Gwillembury, they're prisoners at their office because you have to drive everywhere once you're there. Or you can have lunch every single day at the Timmy's in the next building which is only half a mile away. This is the same reason people don't take transit - that and the fact there really isn't any.

Then if you are carpooling, you have to pick everyone back up at their various offices (providing no one is working late, sick, or on the roof with a sniper rifle) and drive them home.

The reward for all this is you get to use the HOV lane on your ride home. Yes, you zip along at the top end, but as you get closer to the 401 overpass, six lanes turn to three, and then two, and the HOV lane brings everyone - including the car-poolers - to a dead halt since they have to jamb into the stopped two regular lanes, and no one wants to let them in.

Then as soon as you crawl through that bottleneck, the road planners funnel three more lanes of high volume traffic into the southbound DVP.

I drive this route most days, because I live in the city and work in Markham. I'm pretty sure that no one in the car beside me on a daily basis is the guy who responsible for the road design. If it was, it would get fixed pretty darned fast.