Want traffic to speed up? Cue the accordian player | SummitDaily.com

Want traffic to speed up? Cue the accordian player

No one likes an accordion player. In a world where (c)rap artists are idolized and fawned over by insecure white folk trying to deny their heritage, the masters of the free-reed bellows instruments are scorned though their skills are unique and the music they produce grand, in the right setting, of course. There is one thing rap and accordion music have in common – if you want to clear a room in a hurry, a recording of Myron Floren or the latest angry screed from MC Ishca Bibble will be equally effective. Scorned though they are, there are more accordion players than you might think, but not all of them play the instrument. You see them every day on I-70; at the head of every traffic bunching, if there isn’t an accident, there’s an accordion player. They come in two kinds, the nervous sort tapping the brake, then the accelerator, then the brake again, and the angry kind, stabbing the accelerator, mashing on the brakes, then redlining the accelerator again to close the gap with the car in front. Both kinds produce the same accordion effect, speed up, slow down, speed up, slow down, increasing the overall drive time for everyone and increasing the chances of an accident.

Last week on Tuesday, I left Denver at 10 a.m. heading for the hills, sure that the worst of the holiday skier traffic was past. As I rounded the curve past Morrison, I found out how wrong I was. There they were, three lanes of vehicles crawling into the foothills at 20 miles an hour. As a ski shop owner, my wallet swelled; as a driver, I began calculating and recalculating when I’d arrive in Summit County, praying for a fender bender somewhere ahead to have slowed traffic, and not just too many people in one place at the same time. By the bottom of Floyd Hill, however, traffic had spread out and I made it to town only 10 minutes off my usual drive time. Sunday evening, New Year’s Day, I left Breckenridge at 6:45 p.m., sure I was about to participate in the sort of nightmarish traffic jam that the third laners insist that we spend $14 billion over 10 years to remedy. To my amazement, I made it to Denver right on time, no delays, no traffic jam, nothing but open road, except for the accordion players, either terrified by the “Icy Road” signs or hoping foolishly to make it to DIA in 90 minutes or less in time to catch their flight. Earlier in the day, beginning at 11 a.m. but thinning by 5 p.m., traffic was heavy, but even then, the delay was manageable, and most of the accidents were caused by the accordion players, catching the drivers behind them off guard or hoping that a little bumper kiss would goose the car in front of them. I’m now even more convinced that we shouldn’t spend $14 billion on a third lane when basic traffic management would do wonders.

During the last legislative session a bill was introduced authorizing the highway patrol to ticket cars for driving too slowly. The bill passed; statistically, driving too slowly can be as likely to cause an accident as driving too fast, even though the number of fast problem drivers far outweighs the number of slow problem drivers. The roads can be made much safer by issuing a few tickets to tortoises instead of just nailing the hares. That same traffic management should be applied to the accordion drivers – they’re easy to find at the head of the pack. Getting them out of the way will certainly speed things up, safely, and the cost of the ticket will ensure they don’t do it again. The accordion players deserve some help, though. The “Icy Road” signs should come down; they either tell you something you already know, or they’re left on long after road conditions have improved. The three lanes to and from the tunnel should be divided in a real way by real dividers to keep three lanes from becoming two on snowy days. The use of mag chloride on the roads should be curtailed, or the compound colored so that it doesn’t resemble black ice to the uninformed. The onramps should have traffic lights like the onramps along I-25 in Denver, limiting the number of cars that can join the parade during peak hours at Frisco, Silverthorne, Loveland and Empire, and shifting the burden of vehicles to off-peak hours.

As a last resort, there is one solution that’s sure to work at little cost. Blanket the AM and FM bands on weekends from noon to 5 p.m. with nothing but accordion music, no alternative music, no world class rock, just oompa oompa oompa. Traffic will move right along, we’ll save $14 billion, and accordion music will get the exposure it deserves. Marc Carlisle writes a Thursday column. He can be reached at summitindie@yahoo.com.

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