Privatization

Wait… Red Means Stop?

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The Seattle Times reports a neat experiment in private roads:

Sgt. P.J. Beaty watches people in this upscale development breaking traffic laws, and sees plenty of them. But he can't pull them over. A man swerved head-on into Beaty's lane, and then back out again and Beaty couldn't lay a glove on him.

For years, he and the department's 10 other sworn officers could have pulled him over.

But the Sunriver Service District, which governs police and fire departments, voted in February to tell officers to make Sunriver's roads, which are private but open to the public, exempt from minor vehicle infractions….

Seator said the association, which owns the roads, told the district that its roads are private, but open to the public.

That means police have limited power in what they can enforce, much like in a supermarket parking lot, Oregon State Police Lt. Carl Rhodes said.

The rest of the article suggests that civilization as we know it will be coming to an end, and a new order will arise in which drunk drivers will rule the streets, terrorizing radar gunless police officers.

More on how to own your own roads here and here.

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  1. Sounds like insurance companies need to adjust their assumptions of risk that the residents have in that area and lobby for higher premiums.

  2. As someone who recently got a $70 ticket for window tint, of all things – WINDOW TINT, in a state that gets extremely hot in the summer – during a recent police fundraiser, oops, I mean law enforcement session, this story made me smile.

  3. The rest of the article suggests that civilization as we know it will be coming to an end, and a new order will arise in which drunk drivers will rule the streets, terrorizing radar gunless police officers.

    BWAAA HA HA HA HA!

    Come on Katherine, you forgot the maniacal laugh. You’re never going to make it as a super-villain without the maniacal laugh.

  4. Pirate:

    It’s time to: UNPIMP YOUR RIDE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. Well, who knows whether you were planning on hiding behind your darkened windows to aim a pistol at a police officer, Jo? 🙂

    Clear windows save lives.

  6. I don’t think this’ll last too long. I imagine that the insurance companies will jack up these people’s premiums to $2000 every 6 months the first time somebody’s lawyer makes the argument that the driver of the car they hit knew or should have known that stop signs were optional.
    Expensive litigation.

  7. Privately owned, but open to the public? How on earth will we screw the poor out of this?

  8. FFF: or maybe there will be fewer accidents.
    It’s just possible that decades and decades of assumptions about traffic control and planning are completely wrong.

    http://tinyurl.com/wppac

    and

    http://tinyurl.com/ymsz4n

    Money quote: “What happens when controls are absent? Left to its own devices at junctions where the lights are out of action, traffic disperses without incident or delay.”

  9. I imagine that the insurance companies will jack up these people’s premiums to $2000 every 6 months the first time somebody’s lawyer makes the argument that the driver of the car they hit knew or should have known that stop signs were optional.

    Stop signs are not optional if running one causes an accident.

    This different regime of road rule enforcement makes absolutely no difference in application of the civil or common law between drivers.

  10. I imagine that the insurance companies will jack up these people’s premiums to $2000 every 6 months the first time somebody’s lawyer makes the argument that the driver of the car they hit knew or should have known that stop signs were optional.

    Only if claims go up. Or are you saying that insurance companies, like everyone else, have the “common sense” to know that unregulated roads result in mass chaos? Unless they have actuarial numbers to back up the “common sense”, I doubt they’ll do a thing.

  11. Unless they have actuarial numbers to back up the “common sense”, I doubt they’ll do a thing.

    Indeed, since insurance companies use traffic violations as a proxy for bad driving, and these people will collect fewer tickets, their rates may well go down.

  12. I thought the police could ticket you on private property for “reckless driving” for things like swerving into oncoming traffic.
    No?

  13. James, that’s interesting. But I imagine that the drivers are still subject to the law in those places.

    I think it is clear that a driver making the claim that the other party knew or should have known that a stop sign was optional would lose, but lawyers charge in fifteen minute intervals and it would take longer to get through the trial/arbitration/settlement. It wouldn’t just be ran a stop sign = liable = pay. The insurance company probably wouldn’t have to got to its lawyers at all in a normal case.

    Regarding actuarial numbers, could an actuary develop reliable information on such a small sample? I know actuaries cover lots of stuff, but I also know that insurance companies charge more where they do less business, and a ten mile (or whatever) stretch of road with one hundred homes on it is a pretty small area in which to do business.

  14. Normal case = traffic laws apply.

  15. Roads and traffic in America are dramatically over-regulated. Think of your local suburban mega-intersection, with 2 straight lanes, 2 left turn lanes, and 1 right turn lane for every direction. In Europe, this intersection would be handled with a simple yield-only roundabout and two-lane roads (one lane in each direction). Roundabouts are better in every possible measure (safer, quicker, allow vehicles to be more fuel efficient, take up far less space, look cool, etc.).

    America needs more roundabouts!

  16. America needs more roundabouts!

    Yes! The first time I drove in the UK, I thought, “These are great! Why aren’t these in the US?”

    Then I realized that roundabouts go clockwise, which would be problematic in the US where we drive on the right side of the road.

    Too bad…

  17. There’s a serious liability issue here just waiting to bite this property owners’ association. I live in a private, ungated development that maintains about 5 miles of roads. We own them, we plow them in the winter, we maintain them. It’s the only service/amenity the association is responsible for. Our attorneys advise us that the only way we can avoid what would likely be fatal (for the association) liability costs (which would, of course, be allocated among all property owners) in the event of an accident or injury to anyone on the roadway (trespassing or not, since the road and its mountain views are an “attractive nuisance”) is to accept the application of state DOT & DMV standards. All fender benders must be investigated by local law enforcement, and property owners can, accordingly, be assessed for excessive speed or running stop signs.

  18. Washington, DC is full of roundabouts and they are a traffic disaster. Of course, it could be even worse with stop lights…

  19. In Seattle neighborhoods, there are no stop signs at four way intersections and no one seems to have any problems driving around – if someone is coming, you yield…

    Also, a few months ago all the lights were out around Seattle for about a week. Including stoplights. It was a complete and utter disaster. A ten minute drive to the grocery store took an hour. So, obviously, traffic lights serve some purpose…

  20. What’s with everyone ending paragraphs with an ellipsis..?

  21. What is it about two-lane roundabouts that makes people forget how to drive? Every one-lane roundabout I have come across (in the States), people stop and yield and occasionally use blinkers to signal where they are exiting. Increase it to two lanes and suddenly nobody yields and people start changing lanes, in the roundabout, sans blinkers and generally start driving like they got their training off the back of a cereal box.

  22. highnumber,
    It looks better…

  23. I wonder if in 10 or 20 years the association will come whining to the county or whatever jurisdiction its in to take over possession the roads because it doesn’t want to pay for major road reconstruction.

    Maybe the development has too many roads to get the county to do that or they’re putting aside money now, but I’ve seen where neighborhoods with private drives in a city tried to get the community to take control of their street sot the association didn’t have to foot the bill. Reconstruction doesn’t come cheap.

    In that case, the city had a policy to not takeover private streets because years before they had and taxpayers were on the hook for the major repairs. (The mayor at the time just happened to live in that development.)

  24. The rest of the article suggests that civilization as we know it will be coming to an end, and a new order will arise in which drunk drivers will rule the streets, terrorizing radar gunless police officers.

    Actually, it doesn’t suggest anything of the sort. Rather, it just points out that the downside of having no traffic rules is that people will be allowed to do dangerous things.

    KMW illustrates again the H&R formula – to express the most resonable concern is to be a hysterical Chicken Little. It’s annoying and betrays a certain close-mindedness.

  25. People seem to be assuming that just because the cops can’t write tickets for minor infractions, there are no laws against minor infractions.

    This would be wrong. The stop sign isn’t optional just because you won’t get a ticket for running it. If you run it and get into an accident, you are still 100% at fault.

    I would note that here in Dallas, where traffic enforcement is often pretty savage, if somewhat arbitrary, red-light running is rampant. So I don’t think there is much connection between enforcement of minor infractions and reduction of minor infractions. Only an idiot would run a red light anyway, and they aren’t going to stop because they might get a ticket.

  26. Also, a few months ago all the lights were out around Seattle for about a week. Including stoplights. It was a complete and utter disaster. A ten minute drive to the grocery store took an hour. So, obviously, traffic lights serve some purpose…

    Traffic lights serve to increase road efficiency. Otherwise, cars would treat every intersection as a 4 way yield intersection. This really messes up traffic flow. Roundabouts are great, but when volume gets to high, they have flaws too.

  27. @Jose: I believe that it would be way worse with traffic lights instead of circles.

    We have a number of roundabouts in my part of MD now (and I’ve driven in DC quite a bit) and they go counter-clockwise so all’s good there. I realize that my experiences composes a very small sample but I’ve found that a driver rarely, has to actually come to a complete stop and I’ve yet to even see an accident or anything that makes think that one’s occurred in a circle.

    The drawback: How will we keep the traffic cops gainfully employed?

  28. Red may mean stop, but yellow means HAUL ASS.

    Jose, I’ve driven those roundabouts in DC, it’s every man for himself. You are expected to go for it and if you don’t….

  29. California gave up roundabouts years ago because of the inherent traffic nightmares. The Long Beach Traffic Circle to this day is a crazy nightmare, but it was much worse when PCH was the main drag from LA to points south and carried all the truck traffic.

  30. Heavy volume would create issues for any traffic management system. Every system would have some flaws but, compared to traffic lights and 4-way stops, circles are still better in my view.

  31. Washington, DC is full of roundabouts and they are a traffic disaster. Of course, it could be even worse with stop lights…

    Actually, every one of them that I can recall anyway, are multi-laned with traffic lights. Every characteristic of bad roundabout design in this thread is included in every traffic circle in DC.

    I will skip the obvious NASCAR joke.

  32. High, until today, I didn’t know what an ellipsis was. Course I’m hard pressed to explain the difference between and adjective and an adverb so that isn’t surprising. Now I know if you use more than four dots you are in error.

    Thanks….

  33. On the bright side of the possible increased insurance cost of the community mentioned in the article, there taxes should go down soon because ferer government services are used by them now. Right? It works that way in reality doesn’t it?

  34. I don’t see how this could possibly lead to lower insurance rates. No matter what is the reality of the situation, if private no-enforcement zones became more common, states would find a way to penalize companies who insure those residents at the same rate as everyone else. If the state doesn’t like it, they aren’t going to stand for it. Just invoke “interstate commerce” or some other bullshit.

  35. Traffic circles (prevalent in Washington, D.C) are just fancy intersections; they’re not roundabouts:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roundabout

    Roundabouts are only controlled with yield signs, not stoplights.

    Roundabouts in Switzerland and every other country where they drive on the right side of the road move counterclockwise. Maplewood, MN has a roundabout where two 4-lane, divided roads cross:

    http://tinyurl.com/39u662 (Google Maps)

    (satellite view doesn’t work because it was under construction at time of photograph)

    Sidenote: Google Maps now has traffic!

  36. America needs more roundabouts!

    we are not racially suited for this here in california.

    i would recommend that the road between my home and my office be made accessible only to me during peak hours.

  37. I have driven in the UK (left side) and France (right side). Both have round-abouts.

    Round-abouts are wonderful under light traffic and a disaster under heavy traffic.

    They could be used effectively in rural areas here in the US, but I don’t see them as value-add for any other location.

  38. I agree with those who believe that roads are over regulated in the US. There’s fucking stoplights at every T intersection where my parents live and the lights greatly impede traffic for no particular reason. Here’s my suggestions for simple traffic flow

    -Side roads yield to major roads at intersections, EVERY TIME!!!
    -Stoplights only at major intersections (4 lane road crossing 4 lane road)
    -When approaching a 2 lane road from a two lane road, slow down and yield to anyone that gets there first
    -Freeway exit ramps with lights at the bottom must die!!!!
    -All roads over two lanes MUST have a center turn lane
    -Roundabouts placed where possible on existing roads and any new road construction.

    If people understood traffic better, I guarantee you we could reduce congestion by half!!!!

  39. Jake,

    Roundabouts take time to work and tourists that don’t understand them are what makes them problematic. They work just fine in heavy traffic, just slower, like traffic in general. Theres nothing more inherently confusing about them than regular intersections, but people have to get used to them.

  40. I wonder how much better those traffic plans work in Europe because getting a license there is an expensive and time consuming process.

    People in Europe know things like not passing on the right!

  41. Dear Lost, I heartily disagree. Try rush hour anywhere near London or Toulouse France. Tourists are not the problem.

    By the way, I actually love the round-abouts and would like to seem them used in the US. But I have experienced round-abouts in metropolitan areas of Europe and they do not work effectively in dense areas during rush hours.

  42. we are not racially suited for this here in california.

    Did I misread a typo or something?

  43. People in Europe know things like not passing on the right!

    Unless you are in England, then pass on the right only!

    Anyhoo, back to private roads and intersections. After every major hurricane I hunkered down for, the traffic lights at most intersections was out for extended periods of time, at least a week in most places. People adapted, they treated them as four way stops even on the bigger roads. Traffic was slower but I don’t think the intersections were any more dangerous. Other anecdotal evidence is places like Italy, India or China where traffic signs and lanes, if they exist, are ignored. Traffic is relatively safe, just slow and not very efficient.

  44. VM,

    You link to Pepper Pike but not the illustrious Tallmadge Circle?

    8 roads meet in the middle of a small city surrounded on three sides by bigger cities. Bonus: it creates nice major 6-way intersections at each “corner”.

    It runs pretty well most times.

  45. Was this the intended outcome of the assertion of private ownership, or was this an unintended consequence?

    The excerpt provides no indication. I somehow doubt that the locals didn’t want their kids protected from speeding.

    Oh, and you can get tint that blocks IR and UV without it being dark enough to get a ticket.

  46. I have a traffic circle, too!
    If you ask me, this one sucks.
    Confusing as hell too.

  47. Pfft, those are nothing:

    This is a real roundabout…

    It’s actually a contra-flow roundabout inside 5 smaller normal flow ones.

  48. I’ve seen that one before. Talk about unnecessary.

  49. Did I misread a typo or something?

    no, just a reference to a particular stereotype which, to california drivers, is obvious.

  50. Jake,

    What about rush hour in Manhatten, Los Angeles. Could they be any worse with Roundabouts?

    Roundabouts work quite well, but suffer limitations with extreme traffic just like any other traffic situations.

  51. Yowsa, Highway!
    I would stop the car and walk the rest of the way if I came to that.

  52. See – High#:

    shills for Big Roundabout are actually shills for socialized transportation in disguise!

    Sorta like Sam Diamond in “Murder by Death”: he played himself in disguise in disguise!

  53. I hope Hell exists so there can be a special place in it for the person that invented traffic circles. I don’t like traffic circles very much.

  54. Yes! The first time I drove in the UK, I thought, “These are great! Why aren’t these in the US?”

    They’ve got ’em in Massachusetts, where they’re called rotaries.

  55. violent_k,

    Why? Too hard?

  56. Sunriver is basically a bunch of fancy schmancy rich folks who really dont have time to be bothered by everyday commoners like police and such. It is south of Bend Or. in a beautiful setting. It just happens to be populated by folks that feel they have reached a level of wealth that precludes them from participation in everyday societal challenges. Oregon is much like California now…only less conservative.

  57. My town is going to convert it’s center into a ‘Hexabout’…
    http://tinyurl.com/2o6bev

  58. oops that google map link didn’t illustrate very well…

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