Thursday, April 21, 2011

21 APR 11: Space Invaders

If history repeats itself, the next few days will be downright dangerous for me to drive. I had collisions during "Passover week" in 1990 and 1994, leaving my cars a total loss. When you're in two collisions on the same afternoon at opposite ends of the same interstate entrance ramp, you know it's not your day.

History almost did repeat itself Wednesday, while I drove on Ninth Street downtown. My car was in the right lane heading west. A pickup truck was in front of me in the left lane - and that driver suddenly decided to swing to the right, as he made a surprise left turn. Some of you have wondered why Columbus is experimenting with roundabout intersections....

I hit the brakes as soon as I noticed what the pickup driver was doing, and that probably prevented a collision. After that driver made his left turn, I was left shaking my head -- and I noticed a couple of witnesses on the sidewalk seemingly doing the same thing. This would NOT be a recommended way to win new blog readers.

I never had a good look at the pickup driver. But his/her motive for the left turn clearly was to claim an open parking space -- in the middle of the block, on the opposite side of the street. It's a "hard left" which might be hard to explain to police after a crash.

For years I called Atlanta the "creative driving capital of the world." But there's one move Columbus-area drivers do more than I ever saw in Atlanta -- that mid-block turn to claim a parking space on the other side of the road. It's Ninth Street near the Government Center, not an aisle near Macy*s at Peachtree Mall.

You're most likely to find this mid-block left turn around the Government Center. I've seen several southbound drivers on Second Avenue spot an open parking space on the northbound side, and abruptly go for it. The fact that most probably are stopping to get license tags renewed makes the move even more thought-provoking.

(This is not merely a Columbus phenomenon. During the same drive Wednesday, I saw a northbound driver in Phenix City pull the same mid-block stunt on Broad Street. At least that turn was within walking distance of police headquarters.)

I grew up in a metropolitan area much bigger than Columbus - but mid-block turning to claim an open parking spot was something my family never did. Of course, this was a much more old-fashioned era. All the downtown streets required parallel parking, with no needle-threading diagonals -- and you actually had to turn the steering wheel with your own hands to park the car.

If you wanted a downtown parking space in my family, you drove around until you found one on your side of the road - even if that meant going a few extra blocks, or even going around the block. A little extra walking didn't hurt us. At least, I don't think it did - unless the reasons for the walks contributed to my mother having ulcers.

Part of me wants to say the mid-block turning for parking spots is a sign that some people still consider metro Columbus a small town. In Dawson or Talbotton, you probably can get away with a driving stunt like that. But Columbus is much larger - and the downtown area is filled with law offices where attorneys want to win big injury judgments.

But wide turns are a problem in other parts of Columbus. Stop at many major intersections with at least four lanes of traffic, and you'd better expect drivers to turn left into the far right lane. It's almost like all the drivers have NASCAR training, and they swing out wide to avoid any loss of speed in the turns.

-> Our Wednesday night poker tournament had an entertaining moment -- sort of. Read what happened at our other blog, "On the Flop!" <-

E-MAIL UPDATE: The Columbus news media were so focused on crime stories Wednesday that our exclusive on the Hurtsboro garbage decision went as untouched as.... well, enough about the stalled trucks. Here's a comment you probably expected would come....

"Sir" Richard:

CONGRATULATIONS! Once again you have proven beyond the shadow of a doubt; that you ARE the most astute journalist in the local media!

However; I would like to clear up a general misunderstanding. I have no axe to grind with the Town of "Hurt'sboro - it's my home.

My intentions, from the very beginning, were to clean up Town Hall. I intended to use every tool availabe toward that goal - and if the Town fell along the way - it would have to be considered collateral damage. So far, the Town remains as a chartered municipality - and I hope it will remain so in the future.

I can't say that I'm rejoicing over the Town Council's long overdue action in regard to garbage pick-up, But I'm pleased to see that they finally acted in the best interest of "Hurt'sboro's citizens.

I told you that I was operating under a self imposed gag order. I didn't disclose what items I'm keeping under my hat at the present time. Believe me! There's much more to come!

Be patient my good fellow! You are first in line for another "exclusive."

R,J. Schweiger

Aw, c'mon -- if I'm "the most astute journalist" in Columbus, why did the phone calls about William Calley's big 2009 speech go to Al Fleming and Dick McMichael?

For Robert Schweiger to hope Hurtsboro will "remain" a chartered town is quite a change. After all, he went to court three years ago in a failed attempt to dissolve the town [19 Aug 08]. Several city officials and law officers may have disappeared quietly, but Hurtsboro somehow still goes on.

(Hmmmm -- has Robert Schweiger been sharing some beverages with Jimmy Wetzel lately?)

As for that court case Robert Schweiger wanted me to check: it wasn't in last week's edition of The Citizen. Requesting the records at the Russell County Courthouse would cost me money -- and require me to go into deficit spending for the year, since this blog currently has no 2011 income. If it's wrong for politicians in Washington to run up red ink....

Here's one more e-mail, about one of the Columbus criminal cases:

After reading the front pg Ledger article about the 3 young players from Carver who stole things from the GA locker room I'm stumped..Did McGee of Carver or Richt of U GA say that stealing,"is part of growing up."..If McGee said that he needs a slap on the wrist from MCSD(that is all they would do ) and if Richt said that he needs to apologize to U GA...How dare a person who is suppose to be a role model for young men make an excuse for a crime. I'm embarrassed for Carver,MCSD and U GA..When I saw where McGee said they would miss "some" Carver football games next yr I knew winning was more important than character..

The way the newspaper sentence is worded, Carver High School football coach Dell McGee was quoting Georgia head coach Mark Richt. Check the arrest records of Georgia football players over the last couple of years, and you'll understand why Richt has a lot of knowledge in this area.

Dell McGee has suspended the three accused Carver football players for five games next fall. But he admitted to the Ledger-Enquirer they might be kicked off the squad for good. That decision could be up to the Muscogee County School District's discipline tribunal -- a group whose names are almost as well-known as the Georgia offensive line.

Our count of unique visitors is up more than 22 percent from 2010! To advertise to them, make a PayPal donation, offer a story tip or comment about this blog, write me - but be warned: I may post your e-mail and offer a reply.

BURKARD BULK MAIL INDEX: 948 (+ 28, 3.0%)

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author -- not necessarily those of anyone else in Columbus living or dead, and perhaps not even you.

© 2003-11 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

site stats