I, Anonymous Sep 18, 2013 at 4:00 am

Help or Hindrance?


To Oregon Drivers:
It's actually more efficient if we use both lanes, up to the point of the merge, then merge.
(This also includes the spots where there are four lanes going through an intersection, which then merge back to two right after the intersection)

If they wanted us to merge right away, they'd put the sign there.

from http://www.dot.state.mn.us/zippermerge/ :
Q: What is a zipper merge?

A: When a lane is closed in a construction zone, a zipper merge occurs when motorists use both lanes of traffic until reaching the defined merge area, and then alternate in "zipper" fashion into the open lane.

Reduces differences in speeds between two lanes
Reduces the overall length of traffic backup by as much as 40 percent
Reduces congestion on freeway interchanges
Creates a sense of fairness and equity that all lanes are moving at the same rate

Q: Zipper merge vs. early merge

A: When most drivers see the first “lane closed ahead” sign in a work zone, they slow too quickly and move to the lane that will continue through the construction area. This driving behavior can lead to unexpected and dangerous lane switching, serious crashes and road rage.

Zipper merging, however, benefits individual drivers as well as the public at large. Research shows that these dangers decrease when motorists use both lanes until reaching the defined merge area and then alternate in “zipper” fashion into the open lane. Watch a brief video of how it works.

Q: So I'm supposed to merge late?

A: Yes! As you see the “lane closed ahead” sign and traffic backing up, stay in your current lane up to the point of merge. Then take turns with other drivers to safely and smoothly ease into the remaining lane. Don't worry about being "Minnesota nice." When traffic is heavy and slow, it is much safer for motorists to remain in their current lane until the point where traffic can orderly take turns merging.
Thanks Richard you are absolutely correct. People who block a legitimate lane in this manner are actually creating a huge hazard. I cannot count the number of head-on collisions narrowly avoided that I have witnessed due to self-righteous drivers blocking up the open left lane on the St. Johns bridge approach at rush hour. It happens every day, someone gets the grand idea that they are going to be the "traffic equalizer", and blocks up the open left lane, causing the drivers behind to become frustrated to the point of crossing the double yellow line (and into oncoming traffic that has the distinct advantage of GRAVITY, and also has NOWHERE ELSE TO GO, since there is only one lane coming down). Sure these people are idiots to attempt to pass in this way. But would anyone really be laughing about it when one of those idiots is splattered all over the road, along with perhaps your wife/husband/kid who was heading down the hill into Portland and couldn't stop in time to avoid the collision?
All that aside, the concept of "saluting" someone for inspiring road rage is idiotic to say the least. Road rage kills. People LITERALLY DIE because of it. every day. So what if you think you're "right"? Do you really want to kill innocent people for it? If you just can't deal with traffic passing you on the left, then guess what. you can stay in the left lane. and save us all some time as described above. :)
A funnel works better than a straw.
There is a simple way to try to solve this very old construction zone problem, not unlike the addition of the "Use both lanes during heavy traffic" sign on NW Bridge Street. That is to set up zones with signs that say "Construction Ahead, Maintain Your Lane" and a second one that says "Begin Merge Here" or "Merge Zone". Human nature is what it is and there will be a majority of people who want to merge over as soon as they see the sign (part of the problem is that it initially makes sense to merge early, when speeds are higher and before a backup starts forming) and who will feel that the people whooshing past them in the other lane, then squeezing in as far up as possible are cheaters who take advantage of them and aren't following common courtesy of not cutting in line - regardless of what MDOT or ODOT or any other DOT says in some dusty regulation tome or on some obscure URL.

DOTs across the country can keep doing it the same way and keep having the same problems and potential for road rage, or they could actually change the way they sign upcoming lane closures and potentially get better results, because if people haven't changed under the way things are done now, they never will.
Use all available roadway space. Merge late: 1 for me, 1 for you, 1 for me, 1 for you.

Or cram over as soon as possible and kvetch for 20 minutes as traffic approaching at 60mph slows safely before merging.
People are generally polite to rude depending on time of day, on the roadways. Whether it is I-84 or Hostility Hill. For the St. Johns Bridge we have the ugly truth of Washington Drivers taking a short cut home, being rude, and ignoring Oregon Laws. As for merging, we experienced a big rig trying to cut and merge in front of us, just at the merge point. Thank god a pickup blocked him, or we would have been toast when his long trailer shifted into our lane. Just because you can, does not mean you should. With more people moving here, now is the time to take extra time, maintain a car length between cars and drive with care. If an emergency vehicle needed access, it would be hazardous for all concerned.

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