the reverse entropy of traffic regulation


There are pavement cuts along the middle of McGee Street, right by my former home of Ward Street D. Pavement cuts mean that the city of Berkeley is about to install Bott's Dots on McGee, to slow traffic and force motorists not to drive in the middle of the road. So what if there's never really any cars on McGee, and that the notoriously poor Berkeley street parking will add a great deal of inconvenience to the not-especially-wide street. Due to the reverse entropy of traffic regulation (the Second Law of Autodynamics), all city streets will irrevocably tend toward order. Yield signs become stop signs, stop signs become stoplights, and enormous concrete roundabouts emerge fully-formed, like a traffic-control Athena from the head of Zeus, Zeus in this case being the intersection of Parker and Ellsworth.*

No one ever goes to a city council meeting to protest the installation of a stop sign. I've never seen a petition circulated asking a city government to remove stoplights. It's just not something that the satisfied driving community is going to notice. The 2% of the population waving the banner of residential safety and slow-ass driving demands a flashing yellow, a concrete roadblock, and before anyone else notices it, there are four separate stop signs on Hidden Lakes Drive in Martinez. At least one of them is at a cul-de-sac. Don't even get me started on 59th Street.

And when those stop signs come in, they never ever go away. Whatever the reason, be it the safety of pedestrians or children, a traffic regulation installation is there for the long haul. Years from now, our children and our children's children will be cruising down McGee in their flying cars, dodging floating Bott's Dots and parking meter land mines, stopping at red lights every 35 feet, and thinking nothing of it. The smart ones will realize they should have taken Sacramento Street, and then turned onto Dwight if they were headed east-west, but most of those poor stupid hovercraft-driving futuristic bastards will have no damn inkling that there was a different time, a better time, a wide McGee that was free for you and me. The Second Law of Thermodynamics implies that disorder will increase until all energy is dissipated and all light and life are extinguished. I would submit that the Second Law of Autodynamics is far more bleak and depressing.

(*inspiration from one of my favorite Matt Holohan lines of all time, regarding the "ever-watchful, fire-breathing Gryphon")


Nice reference to the JJ Pippig stop signs on hidden lakes drive. Those were totally gratuitous, (except as another desparate means to make fun of JJ Pippig.)

was that reference in here originally? because i didn't notice it before. i HATE those stop signs. i continue to fly thru them at full speed. and have even extended my hatred to the ones that were originally there.

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This page contains a single entry by Sean Keane published on August 9, 2003 12:24 AM.

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