Two-Way Traffic in Downtown Eau Claire
Posted: September 28, 2012
I have 22 years of driving experience to and from my downtown Eau Claire office, but I never would have imagined that I would have to put so much thought into the simple task of coming and going to work. Week one of the one-way streets in downtown Eau Claire is now in the books. My vehicle is unscathed for the time being, but I have a greater awareness of what happens around me as I leave my office walking to and from my parked car.
I've spent a few moments this past week pondering why this all occurred. What was the reasoning for changing South Barstow Street and Graham Avenue back to normal two-way traffic? If someone told me the rationale, I don't recall. But I now know that I have to remember to look both ways at all times - just like they taught us in driver's education - and in kindergarten.
The oddest thing this week was observing cars which were parked facing the opposite direction from where they used to sit along both Graham and South Barstow. Even more interesting was watching the out-of-town drivers who thought they knew the traffic flow in the city's central business district. For the past 40 years they've been programmed to drive on one-way streets when they visit Eau Claire, only to be disillusioned by normal, two-way traffic now.
It's sort of amusing to see drivers who are convinced they can parallel park on the new one-way streets. It wasn't a problem when traffic went in the same direction. But now it can be a dangerous proposition as those driving behind the parallel parker lose their patience and attempt to pass into the oncoming traffic.
I have reminded myself to avoid the old habit of making a celll phone call while walking to and from my parked vehicle. I always felt it was safer to talk on the cell before I started driving. Now, I'm not so sure. On at least four occasions this week, I forgot to look to my left and was almost plowed over by an oncoming car. Fortunately, those who traveled on the new northbound lane on Graham Avenue or southbound on South Barstow seemed to be aware of the potential danger of forgetful walkers and appeared to slow down to avoid impact.
All in all, I think this first week has been a great learning experience and a good refresher course for those of us who are substandard drivers. In all honesty, though, I think I'm most at risk as a pedestrian.
If you have thoughts or comments about the new two-way traffic in downtown Eau Claire or any other issue that you care to share, feel free to e-mail me at: email@example.com. Your input is always appreciated.