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Suicide is less painless. - Blather. Rants. Repeat.
A Møøse once bit my sister ...
Suicide is less painless.
Sorry if that's triggery, or ungrammatical- the "suicide" in question here is the traffic lane of that name.

You've seen them on your nearby larger highways- a center lane is marked off solely for turns from and to side streets and driveways. Usually there are yin-and-yang arrows painted in them, and/or signs on the shoulder to identify their purpose:

That wordless definition of what one can "only" do? It leaves more than a little wiggle room, and in these relatively cluttered suburban spaces, it often becomes necessary to take all the wiggle we can get. I routinely attempt roadway suicide in three different places: turning onto Main Street for the last block to my office from the through street that gets there the quickest with the fewest lights and backups; and into and getting out of this subdivision, to either go west on Sheridan or get into or out of the Sheridan/North Forest intersection a block to the east.

It's that last one that's posed the biggest problem, especially between 5 and 6 p.m.  "Rush hour" here is not the inbound-AM/outbound-PM march that it once was; northern suburban traffic is just as congested heading toward the city at 5:00 as it is coming out of it. And the Sheridan west-to- North Forest south intersection winds up routinely backed up more than half a mile, almost all of it heading straight through to the 290 and points west and not turning south onto North Forest as Eleanor and I, regularly, need to at that hour.

(Much of this would be relieved if the Thruway didn't impose a cheapass 15-cent toll between Transit Road and the 290 connection- especially if they then built out an additional interchange or two between those two current exits. But the NIMBYs have shut that possibility down and we're facing tolls and the consequential Stan Shunpike-ing for the probable infinite future.)

Almost each of those backy-uppy nights, there's a perfectly clear path to our left turn- the suicide lane beckons, as far east as a shul three long blocks away from the intersection. My rule of thumb has always been to resist the urge until I've passed the Temple and both of the side streets that eastbound travelers might want to turn into (of which, I think, I've seen perhaps three in going on 20 years).  Once past those, the only opposite-turners impacted by my queue-jumping are the owners of the driveways between there and North Forest- a surly lot, some of whom have posted NO TRESPASSING signs and even electric gates to keep breakdowns from poaching in their driveways.

Sometimes these suicidals get into accidents- whether from going too fast, or cars waiting until the legal minute to get into the marked left-turn lane- and there must have been complaints. So now, the game's changed.  At least twice in the past week, an Amherst Po-Po has planted a cruiser in the suicide lane, lights off, pointing at any who would challenge the pavement markings- and presumably ticketing any who dare jump in too soon either before or, I suppose, even after that held-down spot.

As with most solutions, this simply opens up new problems. Before and just past the Temple, there are at least four side streets which lead you to North Forest where you will come out on the other side of the backup and, in our case, have a clear shot to the right turn a block south of the intersection. All perfectly legal (for now), and almost as quick as the suicidal tendency, but it's going to put more traffic on those side streets, and they'll complain, and LOCAL TRAFFIC ONLY signs will go up, or streets will be made one-way, and traffic will tend to seek its own level in some other way.

In an ideal world, we'd all just take public transit- but that train long since sailed around here.  For years, suburban opposition was the reason the Buffalo subway was never extended out here; now, local town leaders are thinking it's a good idea, but none of the current mayoral candidates want to support suburban development, which is what it would lead to.

Or maybe we can just all listen to Night Vale in those 20 extra minutes it takes to get home. The APD's Secret Police certainly think so....

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