Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Right to Make A Right

No, I haven't become an ultra-conservative. I'm talking about making a right-hand turn while DRIVING in Philadelphia. Having lived in L.A. for so long really puts a magnifying glass on the problem and I've come to the conclusion that if there's one major difference between Philly and the rest of the civilized world, it's this issue.  Now the way I understand it is...

During the late 70's or early 80's, Mayor Frank Rizzo was famously opposed to allowing right hand turns while the light was red at any intersction. However, after a major campaign by the public and his own city council, he was reluctantly persuaded to abolish the "No Right Turn on Red" law. Finally, after years of having to wait until the light turns green to make a right hand turn at an intersection, Rizzo at long last agreed to allow drivers, after first looking both ways, checking the rearview and both side mirrors, using extreme caution and unless a posted sign said otherwise, to make a legal right hand turn at their discretion! Oh joy. Oh, happy day.

Unfortunately what came next was unprecedented, unnecessary, and IMHO, mind-numbingly stupid (I thought so then, and I think so now)... He ordered a "NO TURN ON RED LIGHT" sign put up on practically EVERY street corner of the city. Since there weren't enough of these signs in existence, it gave the prison inmates something to do for a while, and that's about the best I can say about this idiotic decision. Seriously, I have no idea what the cost to make and install these signs cost the city of Philadelphia, but he may as well have just flushed that cash down a toilet. And not only was it a waste of time and money, but to this day, the signs remain a major inconvenience and waste of time for Philly's motorists.

Some of these signs, to be sure, are located at intersections where they make sense. Near schools, major arteries, shopping centers, expressway entrances, etc. But the vast majority are at intersections where traffic is slow, have high visibility and in many instances, aren't even full intersections (e.g. T-crossing, driveway entrance, very minor intersections). It's an insult to our intelligence to be forced to sit and wait for a light to turn green before making a right when it's perfectly safe and no one's on the road for miles.

I say, the time has come for a revolt on this issue. Let's get a NEW campaign started to uproot about three-quarters of the signs now holding up Philadelphia drivers and productivity.

Honk if you agree.