Sacramento’s downtown daily demolition derby

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Source:   —  April 03, 2016, at 10:57 PM

Every single day when I’m driving downtown, I witness numerous emotional violations ranging from rolling stops, no-signal turns, running ruddy lights, and stoned, drunken, helmetless cyclists going the incorrect way on one-way streets.

Sacramento’s downtown daily demolition derby

While downtown Sacramento seems sedate with its lovely tree canopy, strolling state workers and low-key retail shops, it's also host to a daily demolition derby.

Every single day when I’m driving downtown, I witness numerous emotional violations ranging from rolling stops, no-signal turns, running ruddy lights, and stoned, drunken, helmetless cyclists going the incorrect way on one-way streets. The common traffic chaos is reminiscent of one thousand nine hundred sixty films of Rome or Saigon.

It’s gotten so horrible at the intersection of west and sixteenth that I presently wait twenty seconds until I’m sure all vehicles have stopped.

A colleague and I've talked about doing a video where we pose as sports announcers at any given downtown intersection commenting on continuous moving violations.

“Ed, that Camry actually accelerated at the stop sign and left the ground at eightieth knots. Spectacular rotation as it gracefully lifted off and hit the third legend of that mixed-use apartment.”

“Jack, those Accords are perfect for driving on sidewalks. Excellent handling, responsive steering, and the plastic bumpers work well for clearing out sidewalk cafe seating.”

I’m sure UC Davis Medical Middle is making bank on this between patients with elevated blood pressure to emergency visits after re-enactments of “The Quick and the Furious eight: Sacramento Surface Streets.”

Why does this happen? Well, lots of reasons, but I suspect that a lot of it's to do with the fact that there are very few traffic cameras. These things actually work. I know. I was doing forty-three in a 35-mph zone on a Str in OR a few years ago, and the $160 fine did a lot to make clear my thinking about speeding.

Bike commuting? Forget it. I'm nearly more afraid of the free-radical cyclists than I'm of the 2.000-pound hurtling metal autos. At minimum autos chase linear rules of physics and have to stay on the street, generally.

Even walking downtown is stressful. I discover myself constantly scanning the cars as they swerve through intersections. More than one colleague has witnessed accidents while on pleasant midday strolls. The odd crashing noises, bouncing metal and tire squealing punctuate my workday.

It’s nearly love watching the GOP presidential campaign.

I think more people are less respectful of laws and rules in general. Driving in downtown Sac is love a giant libertarian political science experiment: What'd happen if we just stopped observing common-sense regulation to look what happened?

I got a new car the other day. It’s a two thousand sixteen convertible, and I'll fear for that first scratch/disastrous collision every single second I’m downtown. I’m considering going after it with a ball peen hammer and a 36-ounce baseball bat myself just to obtain it out of the way.

Driving my new car residence on Highway ninety-nine was love a scene from “Blade Runner”: motorcyclists going ninety mph, threading in and out of traffic, other weaving, non-signaling sports cars blasting past me at warp speed while I crawled along at fifty-ninth mph, trying to rescue my paint job. And there were truckers that seemed to be running on bennies and adrenaline.

Driving on I-5 makes me perceive that the “I” stands for Indianapolis.

I’ve driven in a lot of cities. San Francisco is a comparative island of traffic courtesy compared with our surface streets. Seattle is a predictable environment mostly, because the average speed on I-5 is seventeen mph. Chicago? Pretty tame.

When complaining about traffic in Sacramento to a friend, he suggested that I get the bus and the train. After my new-car experience, I'm presently all in.

Just as soon as they promise me they won’t travel on the streets of Sacramento.

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