Opinion

Learn to merge | Kevin Endejan | Reporter's Notebook

According to Google Maps, I live exactly 12 miles, or 19 minutes, from the office.

Let’s get something straight — I’ve never made it to or from work anywhere close to Google’s estimation. It’s often double, or triple that time.

I know, it’s the greater Seattle area, traffic congestion is inevitable. There’s no way around it, right?

Wrong.

I think there’s an answer to this, and it’s simple — LEARN HOW TO MERGE.

Day after day during my commute on I-405 between north Kirkland and Bellevue I see it. Traffic comes to a halt as cars hesitate to enter or exit the roadway.

The scene is akin to the Pemco Insurance commercial featuring, the “You Go. No You Go. No You Go. Guy.”

Are you one of the merging-challenged struggling to understand the concept of entering/exiting the roadway?

A quick Internet search will return four simple rules: use your turn signal, enter the freeway at an appropriate speed, oncoming traffic has the right of way and most importantly, don’t stop.

I know this philosophy works. I’m a Washington native, but spent a year in the central California city of Fresno — an area that registered 510,000 people in the last census. That dwarfs the combined 170,000 people in Bellevue and Kirkland. Somehow, when drivers hop on Fresno’s highways during rush hour they manage to maintain a healthy speed — quite often the posted 60 mph speed limit.

The main difference? You guessed it, they weave in and out, merging with precision. It’s a true thing of beauty.

I don’t know the reason for the difference. Maybe Washington drivers are less aggressive than California drivers? Maybe Washingtonians are nicer? And that’s an argument I might buy, if I didn’t consistently witness another major merging problem — the rule breaker.

You know who I’m talking about. The person, who knows full well they need to exit, but drives all the way to the end of the line and forces their way in. Not only are you cutting, but you’re blocking the lane that I’m in.

This happened a couple of weeks ago when the Sounders were playing their first game and everyone decided to avoid I-90 west and take 520. It took me 25 minutes to cover a 2-mile stretch between downtown Bellevue and the 520 exit all because some people thought their time was more valuable than the hundreds of cars stacked behind them.

There’s probably no answer to the problem, short of a forced re-education of Washington drivers. Maybe more lanes and improved exits will help?

But for now, I just have one simple request. Please use common sense … oh, and little black pedal on the right side of your floor panel.

 

Staff writer Kevin Endejan can be reached at 425-391-0363, ext. 5054 or kendejan@issaquahreporter.com

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