2013-03-01 / Columnists


By Rick Horan

The Stupidest, Time Wasting Intersections in Rockaway, Part 1

Let’s face it, one of the most precious things in our lives is time itself. Once it is gone, we are never able to get it back. No matter how much power or money we have, we cannot buy more time. When someone or something wastes our time, we’re not happy, so let’s share some ideas on how to waste less time and be happier! In addition to featuring ideas to improve our shoreline, the Ideas Wanted column is introducing another topic that is near and dear to my heart, identifying and eliminating the stupidest, most time wasting intersections in Rockaway.

Let’s face it, anyone who drives on the City’s mind-numbing roads has suffered the indignities of hitting potholes, bumper to bumper traffic and the lack of parking spaces. The last thing we want to do is sit at a red light knowing that no other car is going to come through the intersection from the side street. In other words, wasting time for no reason. If you have a pulse it’s going to piss you off, or at least it should.

I will prime the pump with two notorious time wasting intersections on Beach Channel Drive within just three blocks of each other. Ironically, both of these dopey traffic signals are in front of schools. I actually did a bit of field work to gather my facts for this report. At about 6:30 p.m. on Monday, February 25th, I first rode my bike down to Beach Channel High School and spent about 15 minutes at the intersection of Beach 101st and Beach Channel Drive. My first observation was that 101st Street dead ends at BCD and is one way going AWAY from BCD towards the El. So no car will ever be entering the intersection from that direction. Secondly, if a westbound driver wants to make a left onto Beach 101st St. then they can simply wait for traffic to clear and then make the turn, the same way we do it at hundreds of other intersections in Rockaway.

I stuck around for more than half dozen cycles of the light, scribbling notes with one hand while operating my iPhone stop watch application with the other. Once I had the information I needed, I pedaled west for three blocks and found myself in front of Scholars Academy. There I dismounted and spent about the same amount of time recording the length of the red light and green light cycles, the number of cars, and the number of (non-smiling) people in the cars. I can only imagine that some of those BCD drivers waiting patiently for the red light were hoping that at least one car would come out of Beach 104th Street to make their stop worthwhile. But none ever did, at least while I was there.

When I got home I plugged my numbers into a spreadsheet, created some simple formulas and then just sat there, staring at the screen, dumbfounded. Intuitively I knew that we were wasting our lives away at these useless traffic lights (and many others), but I had no idea to what extent. I won’t bore you with the details but we lose an incredible amount of time and gas. And speaking of time, it’s about time city planners stopped wasting our time and installed smart lights!

You are encouraged to comment on this non-scientific research and more importantly, let me know about intersections that get your blood boiling. I’ll even do the leg work and the math. Together maybe we can make Rockaway’s intersections a little less stupid.

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