Share |

Intersection PerpleX-tion

It was Monday. I was trying to drive through town. There were tourists everywhere and for crying out loud most of the shops were closed. Nonetheless, the tourists were clogging up the intersection.  It used to be just Saturday but now it has expanded to every day during  the  spring, summer and early fall - gridlock or should I say “tourist inertia”.

Let me explain.  In the middle of our little town we have a 4-way stop with crosswalks.  It is difficult enough for cars to negotiate their turns without throwing the pedestrians into the mix.  Most drivers know the rules of the road but occasionally some forget which cars were there first.  It seems more to be an issue of mindfulness, not selfishness. The walkers take on the herd mentality and just cross randomly so then the cars are no longer in sync.

Is it time to bring back the traffic light?  What, Vashon had a stoplight you ask?   Yes, we had a real traffic light from 1958 until 1965 when the county took it away. The light was hilarious, as sensors that acknowledge the waiting cars and trigger the light to change hadn’t been invented yet, so there was a lot of waiting. People obeyed the rules, drivers tolerated the interminably long light, there were no free rights on red and pedestrians remained at the curb for their turn even when there were no cars in sight.   Of course it was another story when the ferry traffic came through town.   Lots of cars in one direction and not timed correctly either.   Nobody protested when the light was removed.

Vashonites, at one time, were able to take their driving test and renew licenses on island and trips to the mainland were a rarity.  The Department of Licensing would come over twice a month and work out of what is now the Ober Park building (it had been the Youth Center that Dean Miller had built for the community).  Because Vashon no longer had a traffic light  the State of Washington in its infinite wisdom decided that the DOL would issue Vashon Only drivers’ license which were not valid for off Island driving.   As you can imagine that didn’t go over  well and possibly because Governor Rossellini was a summer resident it was in effect  for  a very short time.  

We never got the traffic light back but now I feel we need it. Our population has grown and we have become ‘A Destination Place’.  During the traffic light controversy I was too young  to  drive but to this day I remember the absurdity of it.  Is it time to bring back a safer controlled intersection?  Or are we inviting urbanization and a different form of absurdity?   

Penny Kimmel