Friday, October 1, 2010

“Calming” Maine Street

“Calming” traffic flow is one of the buzz-words in the high priced consultant class these days.  The “back-in parking” at Maine Street Station was sold as a “traffic calming” measure. 

We’ve posted a few pictures in recent weeks of how well this works, and you may well have had your own observations of public acceptance of this new approach to putting a vehicle at rest.  Let’s just call the results ‘mixed.’  And the concept less than ‘intuitive.’

As a frequent visitor to Maine Street and its businesses, we’ve been frustrated by two particularly ‘un-calming’ and dangerous behaviors. 

The first is the frequent tendency of northbound drivers crossing the double yellow line to take a diagonal parking space on the southbound side of the street, matched equally by the frequency with which southbound drivers cross the double yellow line to take a diagonal spot on the northbound side of the street.

It’s one thing to watch a driver come down the street and ‘cop a uey’ to get a parking spot on the other side of the street.  But I’ve even seen drivers back out of a diagonal parking spot, and make a U-turn across the double yellow line to head in the opposite direction.

Either way, the drivers are executing U-turns, which are illegal, at least in the spirit of the law, if not the letter of the law.

The second behavior that magnifies the danger on Maine Street is the tendency to ignore the clearly marked crosswalks, and simply dash across 3 or 4 lanes of traffic when it looks like you might make it, no matter where you are with respect said crosswalk.

Recent suggestions have included the idea of putting an island down the center of Maine Street and reducing traffic flow to one lane in each direction.  We haven’t seen much support for this idea.

So Side would like to offer another approach.  Have you seen the flexible pylons used to direct traffic flow on 295 as the construction work took place recently in the Portland area?

These pylons were placed something like 20 feet apart; enough to stop you from changing lanes in the gap.  But they were flexible, so that if any contact was made, vehicles would not be damaged, and in all likelihood, the pylons would not be damaged either.

So, a suggestion.  If Maine Street must be “calmed,” and there is good reason to believe it should, have Public Works install these flexible pylons in the three and four lane sections of the road.  Then install that orange plastic snow fence material between the pylons.

This barrier would prevent vehicles from crossing lanes to take parking spots on the other side of the street, and from exiting a parking spot and making a U-turn (other than at a clearly defined intersection.)  And it would prevent pedestrians from dashing across traffic lanes at locations between marked crosswalks.

The flexible nature of the barrier would allow emergency vehicles to drive over them when the situation required, yet prevent vehicle damage in almost all circumstances.

And in winter, when snowfall accumulates, the barrier could be removed and stored, and a residual center barrier of snow left to serve the same purpose.

We should probably charge $1000 an hour for this professional advice, but as you know by now, we’re bigger than all the rest.

So we’re only looking for a payment of $500.  And when we get it, we’ll buy coffee for all at the new Wild Oats.

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1 comment:

  1. My first reaction was that the artsy people in Brunswick would not allow this desecration of Maine Street without their imprimatur, then the picture of these people caught up in the orange webbing and pleading for help had me rolling on the floor. For that reason alone I applaud your suggestion.