New 3-Way Lanes Make Senseless Drivers More Senseless
In a town where drivers are scared to death of changing lanes and can't figure out the intricacies of a roundabout, we really did not need this "help" from the traffic engineering department.
I've noticed in a few places in Sioux Falls that turning lanes have had one or two options to them. The one pictured above is at the northbound off-ramp of I-229 at Cliff Avenue. The left lane, as it always has, is for those wishing to turn left at the intersection. But the right lane has had new magical powers added to it that allow you to either go right or left!
I took this picture on Monday at around 4:00 pm. I want to turn right on the red light but I can't because the Toyota in front of me wants to go left from the right lane. There was little traffic approaching from the left and a right turn could have been safely performed. I and at least three of the vehicles stacked up behind me all had their right turn signals on. But Toyota wants to go left from the right lane even though there are only two vehicles in line to go left while half a dozen want to go right.
It's a little thing, but it's maddening.
It was bad enough when turning right here would get clogged by a right turner who refused to make the turn until they could improperly turn right into the farthest lane from them instead of the nearest lane. Now this 3-way option lane has added another hairball to the drain.
I don't doubt that when the traffic nerds do a statistical analysis they can show that more traffic can flow once the light turns green. That it increases flow. In a logical planning sense, I agree with it as a good idea. But since this lane was changed I have sat at the red longer than in the past.
Another turn lane that was changed was nearby on 49th Street at Cliff Avenue. The left turn lane was changed to a right or left lane. Seems like a good idea, right? Since it is a three-way intersection, as 49th dead ends at Cliff, more cars can get closer to the front of the line. But, according to my wife who hits that intersection every day at around 7:30 AM, no one uses it. Almost all of the traffic is going right (north). Because I-229 and Cliff is a dumpster fire of an intersection, and because Sioux Falls drivers don't want to change lanes ever, most want to be in the right lane so that they can bypass the insanity of trying to go left to I-229 or 41st Street.
Also, the right turn green arrow that was finally added to 49th and Cliff a couple of years ago was deactivated and signs added that only the right lane can go right on red. No worries on that, there's isn't anyone in the left lane wanting to go right anyway.
As I complain about these changed lanes I don't blame the city. These things should help. They don't because Sioux Falls drivers are selfish. Most don't want to work with their neighbors in traffic. They want to defeat those around them in traffic. Most people I talk to hate it when someone changes lanes in front of them before a lane ends in construction. When I ask why they always say the same thing:
"You should have got over sooner!"
"What difference does it make?" I'll ask. "Does it cost you any time getting to where you're going? Does it cost you money or a trophy?"
No one ever has a good answer for that.
Back to the Toyota ahead of me. Traffic wasn't heavy and I wasn't in a hurry. That isn't why it bothered me. I was irritated because I know that they probably wanted to turn right somewhere down the road and they don't want to go through the strain of turning on a blinker, turning their head to check a blind spot, and change lanes.