Monday, July 20, 2009

Gilligan, Burn in Hell

You're all packed up for a trip to the beach on Long Island. You know it will be a long drive because in the summertime, it's easier to go virtually anywhere in the tri-state area than it is to travel from NYC to Long Island. You load up the kids and get an early start. As you come off the Verrazano Bridge and on to the Belt Parkway, the traffic is moving surprisingly well. You know it will slow down to get past Coney Island, Sheepshead Bay and some of the other pinch points on the Belt, but at least it's not stopped dead in a sea of red taillights. Then it you approach the Mill Basin Bridge, just before you cross, the lights start flashing and the gates come down. The single worst event in the whole array of bad NYC traffic events is unfolding before your eyes and you are powerless to stop it.

For nearly two centuries, NYC was primarily a maritime center. Ships from all over the world entered our busy ports, while the narrow roadways were used for slow moving, horse-drawn wagons. I'm guessing (if any body knows, please enlighten me) that during this time, a law was passed in NYC that said if a boat approached a drawbridge over a road, the boat had the right of way. Probably a reasonable law when the worst that could happen by giving the boat precedence was that Jacob would be a little late getting his load of turnips to market. No big deal. But in case the wizards in Washington and Albany haven't noticed, THINGS HAVE CHANGED!

Now, when you stop summer traffic on the Belt Parkway or any major thoroughfare to open the drawbridge so that Skip and Muffy can sail their nifty sloop to Kennedy's Restaurant in Breezy Point for a Pina Colada, you are inconveniencing thousands of sweaty, pissed-off motorists who sit steaming in their overheating cars while that sailboat mast glides at 1/8 mile an hour through that open drawbridge. The traffic on the Belt backs up to Maryland just so these Yuppie a**holes can pass. Have we lost our minds??? I am not alone in tilting against this are some thoughts from a blogger in Seattle:

Drawbridges Inciting Boat Rage? (March 13, 2009)

Unnecessary drawbridge interruptions during peak rush hours are increasing the likelihood of Seattle spawning a boat rage phenomenon, i.e., cars turning on boats. Maybe we’re just psychotically impatient, but watching a single leisure craft casually cripple the 6:15 Thursday evening commute for every working stiff in the vicinity of Ballard, Fremont, and North Queen Anne brought evil visions of Molotov cocktails and burning Gilligans to our non-right-of-way automobiling minds.

Federal law gives marine traffic the right of way, but in the middle of Seattle where traffic only seems to get worse, the situation is screaming for reappraisal. For "marine traffic" (aka a single, leisure craft-owning retiree) to bring the commute to a grinding halt is nonsensical. The city claims the typical bridge raising on the canal is only "four minutes" but we all know that’s bullshit. Traffic is slowed in some cases for up to a mile while Gilligan putts smugly through.

If the city’s arcane right-of-way bias is not remedied we foresee all-out class warfare on the boaters. While the rest of our benefits, 401K's and retirement earnings are whittled down to the value of a domestic six pack, the city’s wealthy and leisurely unemployed get the royal treatment. We weren’t there, but we’re pretty sure this was how the French Revolution started.

I thought the laws of the land were supposed to be made for the "greater good" of the people. What gives one lowly sailboat owner the right to inconvenience thousands of drivers. The reference to "boat rage" above is not so far fetched. Someday some fed-up motorist is going to scale that drawbridge gate and drop a cinder block on Gilligan's head, and if I was sitting on that jury, I'd hold out for "Justifiable Homicide".


LOOKING FOR A WORTHY CHARITY? TRY THESE FOLKS: Children's Craniofacial Association

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