No stop signs = GO!

Copyright Keith Kenney, 2011

What are the consequences of living in a city with 1.5 million people and no stop signs? One is honking. Multiple cars approach an intersection and each one honks to warn the others it is going through. Multiple cars approach an intersection, and each one honks, but no car yields, so they become gridlocked and then the drivers really start honking. Multiple cars approach an intersection, and all of them honk because they are going to a wedding (this especially applies on Saturdays and Sundays).

I tried to find out which city has the most honking drivers. Unfortunately, I only found results for U.S. cites, and Miami has the distinction(?) of winning. Hanoi “sounds” like it has lots of honkers too. “Vietnam has echoing horns, music horns, air-horns, every type of horn you can imagine and too many drivers that are too horn-happy. There is an increasing trend for people to install air-horns (designed for 18-wheeler trucks) on motorbikes and taxis as if the louder your horn is, the safer you are.” (http://www1.dtinews.vn/news/beautiful-vietnam/opinion/honking-me-crazy.html) On a more positive note, New York City’s taxis will soon have “honk-reduction technology: a so-called low-annoyance horn to reduce screechiness.” (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/12/nyregion/with-the-taxis-of-tomorrow-seeking-a-softer-honk.html). And the most depressing news is that you can download 34 different honking ringtones for your mobile phone (http://www.zedge.net/ringtones/0-4-1-honking/).

But honking and gridlock are not the only consequences—there’s also a lot of gasoline being wasted. Why? Imagine that you’re driving on a busy 4-lane road (such as downtown Tbilisi’s main shopping street) and there are neither stop signs nor traffic lights (I’m not kidding). You want to turn left, but there’s always too much oncoming traffic. The only solution is to drive forward a couple of miles to a roundabout and then return a couple miles to make your turn.

And I’ve already written about the dangers for “chickens” trying to cross the road. The next time I need to cross a busy road, I’m going to flag a taxi. Of course, he (it’s always a male) will have to drive forward two miles, enter the roundabout, and then drive back two miles, but I’ll safely get to the other side. I guess it’ll cost 3 lari ($1.80) to cross the road.

But I’m not being fair. I’ve only mentioned the negative consequences of a city without stop signs. As a journalist, I should be fair and balanced. So . . . no stop signs = GO! Go as fast as you can, all the time, everywhere.

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About keithrkenney
Keith Kenney is a professor of visual communication at the University of South Carolina. He is living in Tbilisi, Georgia, for a year. This blog is about several topics. "CSJMM-Journalism" is about the students, faculty and staff members of the Caucasus School of Journalism and Media Management in Tbilisi, Georgia. "USC-Journalism" is about the students, faculty and staff members of the School of Journalism and Mass Communications (SJMC) at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, SC. CSJMM and SJMC are recipients of a "Journalism School Partnership" program grant from the US Department of State. The purpose of this $750,000 grant is to improve CSJMM and ensure its sustainability. "Tbilisi, Georgia" is about Susanna Melo and my experiences in Tbilisi. "Columbia, SC" will be about our experiences in our home town--Columbia--when we return home. "Georgia" is about Susanna and my experiences when we travel in Georgia outside of Tbilisi. "United States" is about our experiences traveling in the US. "Films and Photography" is about two documentary films I'm working on in Georgia. One story follows how Adishi handles the rapid tourism that is being developed in Svaneti. The other story follows Tamaz Jalagania, who is a craftsman of swords and guns, an opera singer, and an extraordinary storyteller. "Scholarship" is about my current books, articles, reviews, and grants.

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