Cape ride (first in a series)

Since about the first of May, I've been driving to the Cape (mostly via Route 3 and the Sagamore) almost every weekend. I'd like to say that the visits were for fun in the sun, but they weren't. The first three weeks in May, it rained. But for what I am doing, interior redecorating, it doesn't matter what the weather is.

Being one of a few people in my family with certain skills (hanging wallpaper), I have been employed most weekends in redoing two rooms in a Dennisport cottage to ready it for this summer's rentals. I just finished the wallpapering this weekend, and have only a couple minor exterior projects to finish to get the cottage into ship shape.

By now, dear Reader, you are probably wondering why a weblog about crazy driving is waxing on about Cape projects. Here's why. It sets the stage for a few observations about Cape driving, which is almost entirely worth its own weblog (though I'm not going to be the one to create and keep up that one). I will make them over a series of posts. This one is about left-lane driving.

For starters, getting there is an interesting experience. I grew up taking Route 3 until Route 25 connected 495 to the Bourne Bridge. After that, I opted to drive through Middleborough rather than Plymouth to get over the canal. Since marrying, though, it is far more logical for me to take Route 3 from my inside-Route 128-lifestyle. So I do. The backups haven't been bad at all on Friday nights lately, even with the construction of the wondrous (though possibly ineffective) flyover ramps at the Sagamore. I say ineffective because unless the plans call for closing the Route 6A onramp on the Cape side of the bridge, it's going to be a parking lot getting off-Cape, not matter what.

I digress. Riding Route 3 has given me a new perspective on Masshole driving. For starters, the left lane is for lightspeed and the right lane is for crawlers. Anyone in between has to weave a thread. I keep up with traffic. That means if traffic is going 5 or 10 miles over the speed limit, I do, too. My usual is about 70, and the speed limit is 60 on Route 3. That's about fair. I'm not going to get a whopper of a ticket if I get picked, and I'm not holding up traffic either.

But there are some people who are in such a rush to get to their fun in the sun, that they must tailgate so closely, and ride so far to the left that they have the look of anticipation the way a kid does when he has to go pee real bad. That's why I call it the pee-pee dance.

Under normal conditions (and nothing is normal for Cape traffic in the summer) I would throw out the anchor and make the antsy driver go around. In these cases, I don't throw out the anchor, but I do keep my speed constant. It's not that I feel like I need to control the speed of anyone else, it's just that I'm here and I ain't movin'. Usually that causes a few "friendly" flashes of the lights. I don't get that though, is that supposed to intimidate me? Are flashing lights the international signal for having to go pee real bad? What? What really bugs me is the guy who flashes me when I am in a long and visible line of drivers. His flashes aren't going to be seen by the guy leading the pack four cars up, so am I supposed to pass it along or something? Am I interrupting some classic game of highway telephone?

One night, I left particularly late. It was well after dark as I was driving through Plymouth. There were only a few cars on the road, and one of them was beside me when a jacked up Dodge Ram raced up behind me. Within seconds I got the flash of brights. I picked it up a bit, hoping to pass the guy on my right so the truck could pass. He didn't. He stayed right on my bumper even though the right lane was wide open. He drifted left to get his lights in my sideview mirror and tried to blind me by switching on his brights and leaving them on. I moved left and turned my mirror towards the ground. This went on for several miles. It was just the two of us passing slower cars in the right lane that came up every now and then. Finally, he got off at exit 2, but not before blowing around me and locking up his brakes just to make me jam on mine at 70 mph.

Things were quiet for the rest of the ride, and it gave me time to think about this pud. One question I couldn't answer was, Why was he so insistent that I move? He could have solved his problem by going around me. I guess he thought it was his right because people usually give way to a pissy truck driver who has to go pee real bad.

The light flash is a fairly universal sign for "I'd like to be driving faster than this. Seeing as how you're currently in the passing lane, would you mind moving aside so I can pass you?".

I agree, flashing when the person is at the back of an obvious line of carse is idiotic at best. And the people who immediately pull tight up behind you to tailgate and flash when trying to get past you could certainly use a lesson in manners.

But I do feel the need to point out that on multi-lane roads, the rules of the road call for the left lane to be used only for passing.

From Chapter 4 of the Driver's Manual (pages 101-102):

Using Lanes

Always use traffic lanes as they are defined by pavement markings and road signs. Many intersections have special lanes marked for turns. Follow the rules of the road, using the proper lanes for turning and driving straight ahead.

On roadways with two or more lanes in your travel direction, use the right lane for driving unless...
• You are passing another vehicle.
• You are making a left turn.
• The right lane is blocked.

I tend to want to average 80-85 on the major highways, and frequently run into drivers who don't. I slow down and pull in behind them, not tailgating, and flash my high beams. Usually they'll find a place to pull into the traveling lane and I'm on my way.
Fair enough. There are cases where I will "give way." I'm not an entirely pigheaded driver.

I also was aware of what the driver's manual said about left lane travel, which means what you're saying you do is in conflict with the manual. In my case, as you probably also experience, on two-lane roads like Route 3 and Route 6, the right lane is indeed blocked ... with people who have nowhere to go and all day to get there!
I meant more in general, or in the case when there's no reason not to be in the traveling lane. In cases like the usual cape pileup, I'm wholeheartedly in the "just accept that you'll be here a while" camp.

BTW, you weren't by any chance throwing out the anchor in a black Maxima on the Pike westbound this morning, were you? :)
God no. I can't afford a Maxima. Besides that, I hate the Pike. Hate it. Tear down the tolls and we'll talk. I do drive it, but it's my last resort, as in, "You can only get there by taking the the Pike." I've driven Route 9 to Worcester from Newton to avoid the Pike.
Now that is some dedicated Pike-hatin' right there. I tip my hat to you, sir.

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