Saturday, January 11, 2014


          On my last post, I fear I failed in my writerly mission. I was trying to demonstrate the differences between the East Coast and the Rest of the Country using something that everyone would immediately recognize as only available on the east coast. It was not an easy task.

          Krispy Kreme donuts? Ubiquitous, and, in fact, ubiquitous worldwide.
          White Castle Burgers? Available in your grocer's freezer section.
          Hudson News, beloved of Northeast Corridor commuters? There's one in the Denver airport.
          Commuter rail? It's being discussed everywhere, and it has been installed and is even now being used on parts of the west coast, and in Denver (that I know of).

          The only thing I could think of that was peculiarly East Coast is the traffic management innovation known as the jug-handle turn. You just don't see it anywhere else. Which, of course, means that all the people from Anywhere Else are clamoring to know just what the heck one is.

          So I made some diagrams.

          Simply put, a jug-handle turn is a way to manage left turns developed by traffic engineers with highly baroque ideas about directing the movement of vehicles.
A normal left turn. It's pretty straightforward and really requires
no extra signage.

          A jug-handle turn, instead of using one turn to get you going in your intended direction, requires two—a counterintuitive right turn and then a left one.

A jug-handle turn. It works, but no more effectively than a normal
left turn, and requires signage telling drivers that all turns are to be
made from the right lane, confusing the literal-minded and the nervous.
           I am fond of jug-handle turns because they remind me of New Jersey, which was one of my all-time favorite places to live. Still, they are silly. They are a pretentious and overly complicated solution to a simple problem that could probably be better managed with a dedicated turn light. They are the last remaining unassimilated icon of East Coastiness only because no one else wants to assimilate them. We have enough problems already. But hey, thanks for the Krispy Kremes.

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