Monday, May 5, 2008

Too slow

I got a kick out of this letter to the editor published in the Lincoln Journal Star late last week:

Terrible drivers in Lincoln

I have driven in lots of cities all across the country and never have I seen worse drivers than I see in Lincoln.

First off, it does not help that the city’s engineers have done a terrible job as far as making traffic flow smoothly. Most of the time, you are made to stop at each light on your journey, which jams up traffic. Add that to drivers who are yakking on cell phones and sit there for 10 seconds after the light turns green before they bother to move, and driving across town is a nightmare.

Lincoln drivers do not get the concept that slower traffic should keep to the right. You have slow drivers in the passing lane, slowing up the progress of others. Cars will often drive side by side for blocks well below the speed limit, not allowing faster traffic to pass. Most drivers drive well below the speed limit, which makes them and other cars miss stoplights that they should make if they were driving the right speed. It’s a joke that I can drive to Omaha faster than I can drive across town and back.

I am shocked that Lincoln police write any speeding tickets, because 98 percent of the cars I see are driving below the speed limit!

Jeff Richardson, Lincoln
There you have it, someone complaining that people in Lincoln drive too slow. Traffic has been a regular topic in The Chief's Corner, and I've dealt with the issue of "worst drivers" before. There is nothing--absolutely nothing--people complain to me more about than driving. This complaint that people are driving too slow and impeding progress, however, is definitely a first, and the opposite of what I usually hear.


Anonymous said...

Apparently Jeff has never stewed in an LA County I-5 rush hour jam. It's not fun. Crawl and stop, crawl and stop, cuss yourself for buying a manual trans instead of an auto. Bring your Baroque CDs (or tune to Siriusly Sinatra) and remain calm, because it happens every Monday through Friday, all year long.

Anonymous said...

Dear Chief,

This is kind of off topic, but does deal with slow and unattentive drivers. I guess it is a pet peeve of mine, but what is the LPD policy on using a cell phone while driving? It seems that 9 out of 10 times I can pass a police cruiser in my neighborhood and the officer is talking on a cell phone while driving.

I just recall reading a study somewhere that actually said a person driving while talking on a cell phone is as likley to be involved in an accident as a person who is at or near the legal limit for alcohol comsumption while driving.

Is it just part of the job these days for an officer to need to talk on a cell phone while driving? If it is, I completely understand. I was just curious though.....


Anonymous said...

Oh, In case the grass-is-greener types doubt those metro jams, look here and here. It could be worse; at least they're actually moving.

Anonymous said...

You are the person that fidgets and wiggles while standing in line at the store if the person writing a check takes "too long" according to your use of time STANDARDS.
"10 seconds after the light turns green"
The comment shows a person who is not in control of the use of time. Here are some tips to make the "ten seconds" less painful.
1. Leave early.
2. Play Michael Savage on the radio.
3. Do not miss doses of your meds.
4. Know that some people are elderly, not as fast as you.
5. Some drivers are new to driving and are not as attentive as you.
6. A select few are intoxicated, and driving slow is too fast for them.
7. Perhaps mechanical trouble is it.
8. Perhaps a person has just had a loss or a death in the family and is despondent.

The writer here seems to be the type that displays the concept of road age. The mindset you have when you start the car will have a large impact on the kind of trip you have. Some people can use a cell phone AND drive. I don't care about the study, so stifle on that. The fact is that many people have many different levels of driving and multitasking abilities. From those who should have never passed the driving exam, to those that can lipstick, brush teeth, blow dry hair and ride a bike and swim all at the same time. I have been driving for many years and have just come to know that I have been very lucky. I have NEVER been behind some driver that sits for ten after a light changes. Now I will stick that in my pipe and smoke it.

Tom Casady said...


We don't have a policy on this. Nine out of ten is a bit of an exaggeration, but I, too, have noticed a lot of cell phone use while driving by our officers. The radio is bad enough--not to mention the computer.

Anonymous said...

There are lots of places to choose to live, MOVE.

Anonymous said...

Well, I see people take several seconds (maybe not ten, but definitely 7 or 8) before they realize the light has turned green and decide to do something about it. It is a pretty broad brush to say that just because they feel, as a principle, people should pay attention and not wast time, that they "display the concept of road rage".
I'm pretty cool headed. However, it is annoying (and unsafe) that some drivers don't pay attention to what is going on around them.

Anonymous said...

I am one of those people who "drives too slow," meaning I very consciously try to drive right at the speed limit, and not above it or below it. I don't jackrabbit start (which seriously reduces your gas mileage) nor do I roar up to intersections so I can slam on my brakes (and rub off a bunch of rubber).

On certain roads in Lincoln, 90 percent of cars sail by -- A street from 56th east, 70th Street, Capitol Parkway. These are streets that some drivers feel like they should be 55, I guess. But I poke along at 40 or whatever the posted speed is. The worst street for speeders that I'm regularly on is 16th from Vine to R. It's better now that people aren't coming off the Holdrege bridge, but there are often people doing 35 plus in this highly pedestrian dense roadway.

Part of this is my firm belief that I am in control of my own destiny. If I am speeding, and I get a ticket, it's not the cop's fault!

Anonymous said...

I guess I will be a minority here and have to agree with Jeff. I too have left with plenty of time to get somewhere, only to be stuck behind (not just old people) people that want to go 25mph down O street, side by side. They sit at green lights FOREVER, even though that is not too bad because I have seen so many run red lights. Driving in Houston is worse though.


Anonymous said...

Officers using cell phones--
Believe it or not a lot of the time we are talking business while on the phone. I'm sure it may be hard to understand, but in the world of scanners, some information is sensitive, either for safety/security, or confidentiality reasons, and this info shouldn't be broadcast city wide. But, talking in the cell phone is no where near the toughest obstacle we tackle in a "regular" day.. but thanks for looking out...

Anonymous said...

For an interesting video of an LPD Officer, go to youtube and search "Nebraska Cop hard at work".... enjoy

Anonymous said...

Fess up. Who is the rider of the motorcycle? At least post here and tell us what mechanical problem you are assesing in the video. That was way too funky.

Anonymous said...

People sit waiting at the green light because they are afraid the original letter writer may be coming the other way and will run the red light.

To: 12:37; Practice makes perfect.

Anonymous said...

It's probably going to get worse with gas approaching $4.00/gal. I like slow drivers. They have less accidents.

Anonymous said...

anon 5/10 10:43,
and I'll bet you put seat covers on your brand new car.

On that video... said...

Some of the newer LPD motor riders use the mostly deserted fairgrounds to get used to the bike and handling. They used to take all of the new motor riders there for training. That looks like what is on the video.

WE said...

My comment got lost when I had to go back and register. To sum it up, why don't you come on out and drice on 84th street between Holdredge and Cornhusker between 6:30 and 7:00 a.m.? Red light running, (like the rest of our city), tailgating, speeding up so those who signal to get over cannot, weaving in and out of traffic cutting others off.Come on out, join the party, do some good.

Anonymous said...

I don't know what the point the folks sending the YouTube video "Nebraska Cops Hard At Work" were trying to make but the camera work sucked. However the skill level of the LPD motor officer was very impressive. Very few riders have the skill to operate a bike at the level of proficiency he showed in the video. The only thing I could criticize him for was his choice of where to practice. Is there a facility where the LPD officers can practice driving skills for both cars and motorcycles at their convenience?

Gun Nut

Anonymous said...

Officers using cell phones-
It is often for business. This way two tasks can be accomplished at once. A lot of times citizens want a call back after leaving and officers are already enroute to another call. If the officer should pull over to talk to the citizen the next person will be mad it took too long to respond.

Tom Casady said...


I'm not quite sure what the point is of the giggly camera phone work. As you correctly point out, this is a motor officer at the fairgrounds doing a few figure eights--a common drill for practicing your slow speed maneuvering. The vast expanse of the largely-deserted fairgrounds is a fine place for a little practice.

Back when I learned to ride a police motor, Sgt. John Packett took us all to the fairgrouds for our three day training, and among the many drills was exactly the same low speed figure eights.

Some riders (Danko) could scrape footpads four times in a figure eight. Others needed about an acre of ground ;-)

The real fun was whizzing through the hog barns, negotiating the pens. On the grass over by the 4-H complex, we laid down one of the oldest motors repeatedly at speeds up to about 25 MPH. That part of the training probably saved my life at the intersection of 24th and Holdrege.

Anonymous said...

I always love the "If you don't like it here, move" statement. Not that easy!!!!
I have driven in many of cities and for some reason Lincoln is horrible to drive in. I think many will agree. It is a pain in the butt driving down 10th at 5pm and having to stop at every light from K st to R st. It seems the traffic engineers could time these a little better. Why can't they put the lights blinking yellow at night? I hate stopping at a red light either real early in the morning or late at night and sitting there for a couple minutes and there is no traffic in sight. That should be an easy fix.
The other problem is Lincoln doesn't want to evolve into a modern city and widen streets. God help us if we cut down a tree or two. No Lincoln might not be LA but there are a lot of cities that are even bigger than Lincoln that have roads that are a little better planned out and easier to get from one end of town to the other.

Anonymous said...

anon 5/6 9:31AM,
I agree with you it's not that easy to up and move. The problem is that most of the people in these city and state jobs are either incompetant or unquilified. So you get this screwed up city where the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing and nothing worth while gets done. But by god let's raise taxes for a new arena, that's real progress. It starts with the government and trickles all the way down to the state,city and includes UNL.

Anonymous said...

While I agree that moving is probably not a very good option I think the fact that there are several thousand other people trying to get home at 5pm is a major part of the traffic problem.

In case you haven't read a paper or seen the local news, the City doesn't have any money and are not going to widen any streets any time soon.

I think what is basically meant by the statement "If you don't like it here, move" is that you should get over it. So much rage and anger is unhealthy.

Anonymous said...

To anon 9:31
I don't see any comment on this section that appears someone is angry or in rage. We are stating just the fact that traffic engineering in this city is poor.
I have been in other cities in rush hour traffic and it is usually easier because the traffic control devices are programmed. There is no reason to stop and go every 50ft and stop at every light on 10th between K and R st. If the lights were programmed it would move easier with less congestion. So many bottle necked roads make for bottle necked traffic. I have gotten use to it and I know there is nothing I can do. I will move in 11years when I retire..not because of traffic but because of the climate.