Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Atlanta traffic

This is a really interesting movie, both as a lesson in civil disobedience (civil obedience?) and as a showcase for the crazy traffic in Atlanta. (Warning, the movie has some language. One, brief f-bomb; kids these days.)

A couple of interesting notes.

1. No, I don't know any of those folks.

I used to get this question all the time when people heard where I went to college. "Hey, do you know [so and so]?" With ten thousand students or so, it wasn't a huge college by any reckoning, but it was large enough that I could go 4 years there without meeting every drunken, frat-boy layabout who couldn't get into UGA. (Ooh. That sounds cranky, doesn't it?) I got that question a lot.

2. They filmed this in my part of town, up the east side of I-285. (of course I looked at the road signs). There was the exit for Memorial Drive (a.k.a. The She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named parkway) and the US-78 exit (it said "Athens" on it). And they mention the Church St. bridge. If I ever left the house, I probably would have seen this happen, maybe gotten my car in the movie. "Hi Mom! I'm on TV! Or the web, whatever."

3. The movie is entirely true. People in Georgia drive fast, because speeding laws are not enforced. You're not going to get a ticket for speeding on highways in Georgia until you're doing 81 mph. It's been this way as long as I remember, and it's how generations of Atlanta drivers have been brought up. (We had do have a year of driving under our belts before we were allowed to drive on the highways on any days other than Thanksgiving or Christmas.)

The story I heard was that the Fedrul Gubment decided in the 70's or so to drop the Interstate Speed Limit to 55 and would cut off funding to states that didn't comply. Rather than cut off their nose to spite their face (that's South Carolina's job, stand firm brothers) Georgia said, "sure," and dropped the speed limit to 55. Then they proceeded not to enforce the new, lower speed limit. Clever.

N.B., this makes it really hard to drive in other states, especially North Carolina. (They're serious about speed limits in NC. Crazy serious.) The first year we were married, my wife and I drove to New York to visit some friends, then to Ohio to visit my wife's mother's family. Including a side trip to Connecticut, we drove in 13 states, 12 of which are more serious about their speed limits than Georgia. Twelve states of 55. When we hit the TN-GA border, it was hammer down. Not really, but I lost an ulcer.

4. As true as the movie is, they were on a relatively slow and uncongested portion of the city. The Top End and Connecter have much more traffic on them (the film looked to be weekday, mid-day). And GA-400 is much faster.

Do you have time for two more stories? Sure you do.

My sister moved to Charleston, and had been there a few months when she decided to come back to Atlanta for a visit. About 30 minutes before she was to arrive, we get this phone call. She's panicking, cars whooshing by, can't get her bearings, etc. It was a Sunday morning.

Now for the kicker: the same thing happened to me. I had been working at home for about 3 months and needed to get to the mall one afternoon. I had to pull off the freeway and take back roads.


At 12:41 PM, Blogger Splitcat Chintzibobs said...

WOW! One of my former students is in that video!!! How funny. I don't know if that stunt has been done before, but I always figured a stunt like this would be an excellent, cheap form of political protest (perhaps of something more serious). Take it a little slower, or stop and abandon a line of junker vehicles (the escape vehicle would be in front of the line) and leave political statements in the vehicles and instant news is born. Nothing gets on Atlanta news like traffic!

At 1:06 PM, Blogger 4BoyDad said...

Ha. I wouldn't have put that in the comment. The owner of the white van is coming after you now.

As for traffic as a medium of protest, I recall a little incident in Lucifer's Hammer . . .


Post a Comment

<< Home