To get from my house to the freeway, one needs to drive down a fairly well traveled four lane access road (two lanes in each direction) that’s a little over a mile long. The speed limit on the road varies between 30 and 35 miles an hour. There are three short traffic lights. If you’re lucky, you can miss all three of them. Normally, it takes me about 3-4 minutes to drive down this road.
Yesterday, though, when I left the house early to get to my computer repair technician, I unexpectedly found myself in a traffic jam. Traffic was backed up for about a half mile. The reason was quickly obvious — one of the two freeway bound lanes was closed. The 3-4 minute trip took ten minutes at stop-and-go speed. I could see my fuel gauge fall by the second. This driving was not optimum efficiency driving for either my traditional minivan or the Prius in front of me.
What’s amusing, in a perverse way, was the reason for the lane closure. As part of a green initiative, a nearby school had designated Friday as “walk to school day.” Because small children were involved, this involved hiring police officers to protect them from traffic and closing off the lane. When I drove up, about 10 little kids were trotting along the sidewalk with their parents and, to their right, there was an empty lane to further insulate them from traffic dangers. In the remaining lane, there were dozens of cars, spewing fumes.
I suspect the irony of the whole thing was lost on the participants, who were no doubt quite proud of their commitment to the environment as demonstrated by a short walk through a long exhaust-laden fog.
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