This guy thinks we should do more than gripe about drivers

(Former managing editor of the Beaverton Valley Times and The Times, serving Tigard, Tualatin and Sherwood, Mikel Kelly handles special sections and contributes a regular column.)

OK, I thought I did my part Nov. 9 when I spouted off about the drivers who zoom around the rest of us at intersections and then cut in at the last minute. Let's face it, ranting and raving is what I do best.

But Dave Murray of Beaverton is one of those rare folks who not only reads the newspaper, he thinks about what he has read. And he thinks we should do more than just complain.

He actually thinks we should solve this problem. What a knucklehead, huh? But wait - let's hear him out.

'Hi, Mikel. You really hit the nail on the head (and smacked your thumb a time or two) with your piece on the selfish drivers in this area. I see much of what you mentioned, though I have a different take on some of it.

'Yes, the fools who race up on the right and cram in are in the wrong. Legally, (when your lane ends, you must yield) ethically (wait your turn, like everyone else) and safety-wise (duh!). Add to this the fact they are actually making the traffic situation worse by causing an 'accordion effect' on the normal flow, and we have every right to be annoyed, if not outraged by such behavior.

'If I may, here is my take on your opinion, what was missed and a suggestion to alleviate the problem once and for all:

'Too bad you beat up on BMW drivers. (Full disclosure: I've never owned a BMW car but ride BMW motorcycles. Also, I commute by bicycle, so I don't experience the worst of it). There is only anecdotal evidence that Beemer pilots are any more annoying than the average local motorist, and in fact, they may be the sort of people who buy and operate such fine automobiles because they take driving seriously. You lost credibility by sniping at these folks. (Besides, the worst offenders I normally see are young men in Japanese imports and women of all ages who think nothing of darting about while talking on mobile phones).

'Also, you mentioned only one intersection where you encounter this problem. If you happen to drive on Walker Road, you will see several places in each direction where the opportunity to be rude arises. I understand that many westside roads evolved awkwardly and have growing pains, but this can be easily corrected if the Washington County Department of Transportation will listen to reason.

'Here is how: In every place where the road widens to two lanes prior to pinching back down to one, make the right-hand lane 'Right Turn Only' at the next intersection.

'This does several sensible things: The selfish types gain very little by sneaking past if they can't continue across the next street without forcing their way into line before the intersection. (Most of us stopped at the light, or following at a safe distance, would not be inclined to let them in, and they would soon learn).

'Further, those wishing to turn right do not have to wait behind drivers stopped in front who are only waiting to go straight across. (Think of how things will smooth out if several cars can turn right while cross traffic is making their left turns - both can take place simultaneously with no conflict).

'Finally, those on the cross street will be able to make their right turns into the lane which soon ends without fear of being run over by the idiots racing past the unsuspecting herd in order to cut in front of them. I'm betting folks will be much more understanding of a few cars feeding in from the cross street than they would be of the cheaters and speeders. They may even wave them in with a smile.

'So, how about using your community paper as a soapbox to get that helpful public agency (WASHCO DOT) to step up and fix this mess? It shouldn't cost much, and would really improve the quality of life here by squelching road rage before it has a chance to bloom. I know: They will probably come up with at least a few objections. ('There are rules...', 'Non-professionals can't know...', 'We can't do this/that/the other,' etc.).

'BUT we are the people being served here, and it is our tax money that is being used for the infrastructure. I would ask the Department of Transportation planners to observe these places along Walker Road (and other streets under their jurisdiction) with an eye toward verifying our concerns and making substantial corrections in a timely fashion.

'If the city of Beaverton wants to back up their talk about improving traffic safety, they can throw their resources into the fray as well.

'It's the right thing to do, and we will all be safer and more serene when on the road. Let's get past the editorializing and take action now. I'll help in any way I can. Thanks for broaching this topic and for hearing me out.'

Just one thing to add, Dave. My Honda Accord is not an import. It was made in Ohio.