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Rich Lafferty's Journal

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Uncivil engineering
science, feynman
mendel

Ottawa features an expressway, the Queensway, going right through the centre of town, east to. Most of my complaints about Ottawa drivers involve how they behave on the Queensway; some of my favourites include trying to merge without accelerating beyond 50 km/h; stopping on the on-ramp when unable to merge at 50 km/h; immediately changing into the middle lane, still going 60-70 km/h, to get out of the way of the other idiots trying to merge at 50 km/h; slowing to 20-30 km/h because the sun is in front of them, and so on.

Most of the argh comes from people unable to use on- and off-ramps, and to an extent I've determined that this is because about half the people on the expressway treat it like a city street, which isn't that wacky, because it is the city street you use to get from one part of town to another -- it just happens to be a controlled-access expressway.

But given that people are unable to merge onto the bloody highway, it bothers me that the majority of the really busy onramps and offramps are like this:

   --------------------------------------------------

   --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --

   ==================================================

   --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --

   ----------  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  ----------
           /                                \
          /    --------------------------    \
         /    /                          \    \
        /    /                            \    \
< where people coming onto the highway have to merge through people trying to get off of the highway. This is asking for trouble in a city of well-behaved drivers, and it's madness here. And trouble they get! In the best case, everyone in the rightmost lane slows to 30 km/h approaching the ramp in order to let those exiting mesh with the cars trying to enter the freeway.

Of course, there's a reason that's called "the best case". Stopping on the onramp is popular, as is driving to the very end of the onramp and finally merging by driving over the DO NOT DRIVE HERE, THIS IS REALLY A MEDIAN painted diagonal lines. Also popular: Nearly merging into a car in the lane beside the onramp, and having to swerve onto the shoulder when someone tries to move onto the offramp right where you happen to be.

Best as I can tell, the reason they do this is because they have a highway exit about every three blocks downtown. I don't want to imagine why they decided they had to do this. Ottawa is not big. But it's one thing when the drivers are bad, and another entirely when the highways are designed to magnify it. STOP HELPING!


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