By Dill Ward, March 12, 2021
By Dill Ward, March 12, 2021
Who hasn’t seen an erratic driver taking some wild risks to bypass any slowing traffic? Riding on the shoulder of the freeway, crossing a solid line, swerving past cones to turn on a “no turns” street, going up a “do not enter” ramp, turning into oncoming traffic to get to their destination 2 minutes earlier (only to cause an accident which puts them behind schedule by an hour)… I know I’ve seen plenty of wacky driving lately because these are all literal experiences I’ve had on the road this week.
Every week some road gets obstructed in some way that clogs up a wonderful neighborhood, or slogs down a main thoroughfare to our favorite destinations. Some drivers don’t handle unexpected delays very well, causing erratic driving, which leads to collisions and yet more traffic. What can we control about these situations? We can control how we choose to drive. If the momentary setback of your favorite route being closed, or your quickest path to work having a long-term project blocking more than just a lane, becomes too aggravating, perhaps shifting your expectations will get you into a better baseline mood. But… How does one shift expectations?
Forgetting that you had a favorite/faster route than the one you’re currently utilizing? Wild right, but if you think about it, you’re not losing any ground, you are stuck with your current commute, and all the agitation about the recurring delays/unexpected obstructions will do you no good mentally… so, just forget about it. Pretend that you’re back in a new routine and you have to find a way home accepting that those roads are closed, bonus to forgetting about your favorite paths is that when roads reopen it is like getting an amazing gift. When I learn of a new restriction on turns, I internalize a “challenge accepted” sense of adventure, looking for the most efficient path through the new obstacles.
Celebrate the roundabout coming to your once speeder-friendly path, acknowledge that you’re going to get more time to soak up the character of neighborhoods you might have otherwise overlooked. Celebrate the safety of areas that your accustomed to passing through, some kid on that street is going to get to ride their bike a little more frequently now. Celebrate that the city that you enjoy is getting a new feature which you’ll be first to see in action. Lane closures for bike paths on Foster, no problem, I’m going to enjoy knowing that someone on their bike will soon be safely riding to their favorite recently more bike-able business. Entire street shut down for upgraded sewer pipes, no worries, I’m happy knowing that some fine resident is going to have a lower chance of their toilet backing up or their stormwater flowing copiously into their basement.
To say that infrastructural improvements frequently cause unusual traffic patterns may be an understatement. Personally, I’ve found reminding myself that improvements are coming is a positive tone for the momentary/reoccurring frustrations. However, learning about planned construction/improvements can help alleviate the frustrations of not knowing where the construction is happening, the best tool for preparing yourself for predictable driving delays can be found at ODOT’s Projects page. Check once a month to see if your favorite streets are affected, and read up on what the project’s goals are to understand why the inconvenience is coming your way.
Ultimately, how recklessly other people drive should not degrade how you drive. I know that many of the cars I share the road with are skilled at managing your road-rage. What other ways do you find beneficial in coping with unexpected driving/cycling/commuting delays?