Spring is a time when you usually think of new green sprouts poking through the soil—but for those of us who spend a lot of time in the car commuting, spring also means a fresh crop of attractive orange traffic cones lining the roads. Sometimes it seems there are more traffic cones than spring flowers, more orange than the poppy fields in The Wizard of Oz.
This is a ritual we are never prepared for, but it has always been a signal that spring has finally arrived. Or maybe we can view the annual cone gauntlet as a kind of community-offered “skilled driving course:” a refresher for those of us who currently possess driver’s licenses, and an automatic pass for young people who are just learning to navigate the roads.
The cone challenge also brings a huge display of driver “courtesy,” as spring seems to bring out the best in us as we maneuver through the valley. Lane closures spur drivers to speed up in the closed lane until the last moment when they can force their way in the open lane. Net result: saving two or three minutes in their overall commute! Only pregnant women or someone in need of medical services should see an advantage in this huge time saver.
Then you get the opposite of the spectrum, the driver who sees the signs calling for speed reduction due to road work ahead. This driver takes the signs literally. The new posted speed is 25 miles per hour but they think that slowing to 15 is safest, completely ignoring the worker frantically waving a caution sign to encourage them to speed up.
Finally, there is the hand wave of appreciation for letting someone cut in line or pull in from a side road. On occasion when I am the driver trying to nudge my way into traffic, I see another fun wave: the one using only a single finger instead of the full hand. Boy, someone is having a bad day.
Apparently I am spending way too much time on the roadway. I need to return my thoughts to those new spring green sprouts, and fast.