Saturday, April 26, 2014

Extraordinary Moves of the Vehicular Kind

I spent a year or so living in a western suburb of Boston. This brief sojourn in Bean Town came after years of living in New York City, where no one needed to own a car and few did, so I was out of the habit of driving when I got to Boston and often found making my way around in my newly acquired car downright harrowing. A phenomenon I encountered there for the first time ever was what I called "the simultaneous left turn." This happened when you were at an intersection waiting for a break in the oncoming traffic to make a left turn, and when it came, the driver behind you took advantage of the same break in traffic to turn left at exactly the same time you did. The car that had been behind you ended up beside you at your left in the new street, and if that street didn't have two lanes going in both directions, that car would then accelerate past you so as not to run head on into oncoming traffic.

It's been decades since I thought about the simultaneous left turn, but this morning in Hudson, the driver of a big old SUV took the simultaneous left turn up a notch. I was traveling west on Warren Street, intending to turn left onto Fifth Street. The light was red when I got to the corner, so I stopped and waited, with my left turn signal on. When the light turned green for traffic on Warren Street, a woman on the south side of Warren Street, who had great difficulty walking and was moving very slowly, set out across Fifth Street, heading west. Clearly, I could not make my turn until she was safely on the other side, so I pulled out into the intersection to allow drivers wanting to go straight on Warren Street to get around me on the right, and waited for the woman to cross before making my turn. When she was about two-thirds of the way to the other side, a big SUV came up beside me on the leftremember, my left turn signal is onand turned left onto Fifth Street, cutting diagonally from the parking lane into the traffic lane, while the poor woman was still in the crosswalk. 

What did this bizarre maneuver achieve? Not much. When the woman was safely on the sidewalk and I had made my turn, I caught up to the SUV, stopped at the traffic light at Fifth and Union.

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