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wtf is with the san francisco bay bridge?

July 28th, 2009
a new way to funnel traffic

a new way to funnel traffic

Whether you commute to San Francisco for work or are driving to the city for pleasure (b/c it’s oh so pleasurable to walk down the urine scented streets and get accosted by the homeless the city celebrate) there’ s a good chance you will cross a bridge. If that bridge is the Bay Bridge, you are in for a real treat if you enjoy wasting an hour in your car sitting in stop-and-go traffic. It is not just that it is slow, the amount of time it takes is, for lack of a better way of putting it, consistently inconsistent. Time to get through the toll plaza ranges from 5 minutes to well north of an hour.

So let’s look at the problems. First who was the rocket scientist who dreamed up the MacArthur Maze? Who woke up and thought, “Hey, let’s dump three major freeways into some toll booths followed a set of metering lights. What could go wrong?” Add to that two more feeder freeways (24 and 980) that feed the freeways pouring into the Maze. Second, you’ve got different types of lanes for different types of drivers (carpool, cash/FasTrak, FasTrak only, buses/trucks). So you’ve got the traffic from all of these freeways madly scrambling to change lanes in a relatively short distance. What makes all of this more frustrating is that FasTrak is actually just as slow as the cash lanes, even with the cash lanes merging into each other after the toll booths but before the metering lights. This gives us the perfect lead into metering lights. I won’t even comment on metering lights – anyone who has experienced them knows that they cause nothing but extra wear and tear on your vehicle.

building a new parking lot

building a new parking lot

Finally we are left with the drivers who drive the Bay Bridge. This is the worst part. They take the smoldering ember that is the Maze/toll plaza/metering lights and stoke the flames until we’ve got an out of control wildfire on our hands. What compels these people to act like such complete idiots? The obsessive lane changing has got to stop. wtf? do you think changing lanes every five feet is going to get you there faster? And then there are the jackasses that enable them because they insist on staying 20 car lengths behind the car in front of them in stop-and-go traffic. CalTrans needs to install some type of dividers between lanes to get people to pick a lane and stay in it. What makes these lane changers even worse is that they couldn’t care less about signaling or even be bothered with checking to see if there is a car occupying the space the so desperately need move into. So with that, I would like to introduce a new weekly segment called “wtf bay bridge driver?” Each week we will one of the idiots doing their best to clog our roads and endanger their fellow drivers. Our first wtf bay bridge driver goes to the Volkswagon Golf driver with CA license plate #5GMJ151. We raise this one finger salute in your honor!

rant, travel , ,

it really is 1984 in the UK, wtf?

April 19th, 2009
not the type of home office one dreams of

not the type of home office one dreams of

Oh, don’t you just love the Orwellian schemes dreamed up by politicians to monitor, track and control the masses? Most of which are easily thwarted by true criminals. Case in point, the UK’s £1.2 billion  e-Borders scheme (that’s $1.78 billion for our American readers).

Under this new immigration scheme, every person leaving the United Kingdom will be forced to provide detailed personal information like their home and email addresses, phone numbers, passport information, credit card information and detailed travel itineraries. In order travel abroad (by any means – including swimming the English Channel),  Britons will have to submit the information a day before departure. Fail to comply? Well then you will be facing a £5,000 fine or possible criminal prosecution for not obeying Big Brother.

Oh wait, it gets better! They plan to hold your information for 10 years. Judging by how well governments (in the US, UK or wherever) keep sensitive networks/information secure, we’ve got nothing to fear about this database being compromised.

As Chris Cuddy points out in an article at Travolution, “…this additional Stalinist hurdle to freedom to travel from the UK is not what ordinary travellers seek when planning a holiday abroad…”

What is worse, with all the money thrown at the misguided scheme, it still has serious holes. Like most things having to do with transportation safety, the effort is more for show than actual safety (the TSA’s 60% failure rate is a good example of all show and no substance). e-Borders is not even online and already problems are surfacing. Have dual passports (something fairly common in the UK)? Darn, they forgot to think about how to handle that. According to the Daily Telegraph, “An airline, under the ‘e-borders’ system, would be denied permission to carry the passenger home. Even if a British passport were presented.”

“But wait!” you say, “that is a minor inconvenience if we are all safer.”

“Not so fast,” I say, “that’s where you are wrong.”

Experts like Frank Gregory, professor of European Security at the University of Southampton, are already warning of holes in the e-Borders system. In his report, he states:

There are two key problems with the e-Borders programme. First, it will not reveal if the person matching the identity documents has created a false identity and, second, ‘watchlist’ scrutiny only works if a suspect person continues to use a ‘flagged’ name.

Unfortunately, the e-Borders ship left port long ago with Big Brother at the helm and Stalin as its navigator. The e-Borders scheme starts this year and will become more and more draconian through March 2014, when it is expected to be fully operational.

etc., people, politics, travel , , ,