One of the best things about working on Staten Island is the commute. Especially when you compare it to having to go into Manhattan every day like many Staten Islanders.
I have an eight-mile commute to work which takes about 20 minutes. But that commute has gotten longer over the past few years. Seems trivial to complain about an additional five minutes, but it is half my alarm clock snooze time.
It has made me realize that, while I have been able to control my own business destiny to a large extent, I have not been able to control my commuting destiny. When I first started driving from home to work there were 9 traffic lights along the ride. Today there are……28! Same route! 19 additional red lights. That’s 211 percent more lights! How can that be? Why can that be? Stop!
Think about this: it is estimated as an average American you will spend six months of your life waiting at red lights. Since we are New Yorkers, and way above average, we are probably going to spend a year waiting at red lights. A year! You could break up with your spouse, make up with your spouse, conceive a child, go to nine months of doctor’s appointments, give birth, have the bris (make sure it’s a boy first), and have the baby baptized (double the chances he goes to heaven) in less time than you will spend waiting at red lights in your NY lifetime.
You could watch every episode of Sesame Street ever made since its debut in 1969 in the time you will spend sitting at red lights, TWICE! Even the Count von Count doesn’t want to count that high. Bright side is, you would know the letter “Q” and every other letter for that matter.
I know we need red lights but do we need them everywhere? And getting rid of a red light is harder than getting a liberal and a conservative to agree on Obamacare. Go ahead, google “getting traffic lights removed.” Your computer will just start to smoke and then shut itself off and then the whole Internet will disappear. Except for porn and online gambling, those cannot be destroyed.
One alternative is roundabouts, like they have in New Jersey. They work, and they speed up traffic and are safe and fun — I usually go around three or four times like it’s a ride at Hershey Park. You know all those times you are sitting in traffic and it’s just because of the timing of the red light up ahead (like on Rockland Avenue, or Richmond Avenue, or Page Avenue, or EVERY avenue)? If those intersections were roundabouts, you would be dizzy but you would be there already.
A town in Germany did an experiment in 2013 removing all traffic lights, and guess what? Everything got safer and faster! Matter of fact, in the Netherlands they use a concept called “Shared Spaces” in which all traffic signals are removed and people take responsibility for making eye contact with fellow drivers and bikers and pedestrians and cooperate with each other. The Dutch found that traffic moves more quickly and more safely when people take responsibility for their driving instead of government legislating where and when they must stop and go. Is thinking and driving even legal here? How would we text?
Right now we drive like drones, and not just because we are texting or talking on our bluetooths but because we are constantly told what to do by traffic signals. We are the “Driving Dead.” Let’s face it, living on Staten Island requires lots of driving.
I wonder if we can take back the responsibility of driving in our community. The rules are made up in Albany, which seems inefficient.
Local politicians have affected positive change in recent years by suggesting small changes that have made a big difference, but I think they need our help to do more.
Let’s take back the responsibility of driving in our community and make it not only easier to get around but safer and faster and a lot less stressful. Let me know what you think at email@example.com.