Mar 22, 2008

A Michigan Left - Detroit, MI - March 2008

A Michigan Left is sometimes known as a Median U-Turn. describes this turn as “an automobile traffic maneuver in which a unidirectional U-turn and a right turn replace a prohibited left turn. The term comes from the fact that the arrangement is quite common along Michigan roads and highways and is extremely rare anywhere else in the United States. (See photo to the left of Michigan left for ref.)

Note to Self: Thank goodness you decided NOT to rent a car when you were in Detroit this week! Riding in a car with someone participating in this ridiculous traffic pattern practice was quite enough!

Note to Reader: CAUTION!!! - This is the WORST idea but the longer you spend in Michigan the more your mind becomes tainted into thinking that this might work in your home town. Please be advised that it wouldn’t! It doesn’t work there; they really are just in denial. A left turn signal and a dedicated turn lane are completely sufficient.

I think to get the full effect of this civil engineering retardation you’ve got to experience it, but if you have no plans in the near future to go to the big MI keeper of the infamous “8 mile” and home of the former K-Mart headquarters then buckle your imaginary seat belt and close your eyes, (shoot!!! Don’t do that cause you can’t read if you do that, but imagine you are.) and I’ll take you on the ride of your life.

Additional Note to Reader: Riding with me in general is somewhat of a Grandma experience because I drive … the speed limit, but hey I get there. OK all strapped into my brand new white 2008 Mercedes Benz ML 350 SUV with tan leather interior a rockin’ stereo system and a baby seat in the back (see picture)… Hey this is my imaginary road trip, I can drive what ever I want and no, I am not pregnant, I just know that by the time I can afford this car I’d better have at least one baby in the back seat!!! Ready? Let’s go!

So there we are cruising down Gratiot (which is actually pronounced “GRASH-IT”… don’t ask me?) We’ve just left the AutoZone Regional Office (I guess we were there to show them how cute my new car and baby in that baby seat are because if Jeremy and I can afford the Car the baby and the baby seat in back, then maybe I’m a successful novelist by now =)… hehe I love my imagination!) and we’re heading to get a bite to eat at National Coney Island. (They have great Coney dogs and even better French fries! YUMMMMMMM!) So to get there we’ll have to make a left on 10th and it’s a straight shot from there, or is it?

In order to go the correct direction on 10th you actually have to go through the light at Gratiot and 10th and drive a half a mile past it and then pull the U-turn and then come back. (Hummmmm… on second thought maybe this was designed by the oil companies so you use more gas.) So you roll through the light at 10th and about a half a mile up on the left you ease into a left turn lane that will feed you into a two lane U-Turn space in the median that is controlled by a traffic light, but it is also important to note that turning left on red (i.e. hurling your car into 4 lanes of speeding traffic with the intent of making it to the far right hand lane in now less than a half of a mile so that you can make a right on 10th instead of the left you would have, should have made a half mile ago, is completely acceptable. (EEEH Gads!!! This just gets more and more ridiculous. You might as well just close your eyes and hit the gas!)

So if we take the safe way and wait until the light turns green with 95 people honking behind us because we have not risked our lives and the lives of everyone that we may encounter while running that red light, we slowly accelerate looking to our right to make sure no one is going to run their red light and to the left to be sure no one is going the wrong way, and ease to the right hand side of the road. In the half a mile drive from the U-turn and the right turn on 10th we can see out the right side windows any multitude of drug dealers, homeless people crack houses, run down buildings and not a police officer in sight. A minute and a half later we have eased into the right hand turn lane and successfully made the right onto 10th and are on our way to Detroit’s finest coney restaurant. All in all this has been a successful trip, but really, is all of the stress, all of the anxiety and heart pounding terror worth it? I think not.

Even if for some reason this did save time or aid in the flow of traffic during rush hour, which I sincerely doubt it does, because between the hours of 4 and 6 every major thoroughfare in this city is basically a parking lot, the idea of having cars actually pass their desired street and make a U-Turn which is an action that is illegal in over half of the 50 states, and “technically” is a left turn that just forgot to stop turning when it should have, just makes no since to me.

So here’s my theory… The Michigan Left may just be a gift from God, because I did more praying in traffic for myself, my driver, and those around us then I think I have ever done in my life!

Haha! I forgot to mention, Detroit, MI has started experimenting with the European style round about. Good luck with that!

Till next time,
Bon Voyage!


sanctifyingsarah said...

Lili that was wonderful, I felt myself hanging on to my seat. I would choose a Green Tea Honda CR-V. Oh, by the way, imagine doing those in the snow!

Suzanna said...

Well, I think I would fit right in to their driving routine!! My driving "skills" make no sense whatsoever. Maybe that's a good reason to start flying! umm...oh yea...I would like another story now, please! I need to be entertained! Love you!