October 15th, 2011

planet

Construction zone strategy

Something shocking happened... I'm not driving through any construction zones on my way home!

My commute used to be really relaxing and stress free.  I literally drove five miles down tree-lined streets to get to work.  Then they moved me.  Of course.  I joked that my company moved me to the west side of town because they heard I bought a house on the east side of town.

This is Wichita, so the "other side of town" means I have a ten mile commute instead of six, not that big a deal, but the worst part is that a few months after the move the main highway I spend most of my time on was the subject of this major bridge re-work, taking three lanes down to two and adding about 5-10 minutes to my drive, according to my calculations.  There were also a LOT more accidents because Wichita drivers suck and can't handle heavy traffic, so about once a week I'd have to bail out of the highway entirely and take back roads all the way home.

Most people here just assumed they should drive through the construction zone like they do on the highway... keep your foot on the gas as much as possible, constantly maintain 1-2 car lengths between them and the next car, always try to keep up with the guy ahead of you. 

I played a game with it, and it actually kept me entertained for months.  I called it "don't hit the brakes".  If I had to brake, I failed.  My goal was to coast through the whole zone at some steady pace, usually 15-20 mph.  Sometimes there'd be four empty car lengths ahead of me, but that just meant when the car in front hit his brakes, I didn't have to.  I rarely had to stop.  I conserved fuel.  I had a good time.

Sometimes cars would cut in ahead of me, then hit their brakes and screw the whole game up.  Sometimes I'd forget what I was doing, accelerate too much and have to hit my brakes.  But usually I had a slow nice easy ride home.

Anyway the construction randomly ended this week, and I'm THRILLED but also shocked, I was so used to getting mentally ready for the evening commute challenge that I still wonder "OMG WHAT HAPPENED?" every time I pass over the Washington bridge unhindered.