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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

At a Standstill, in Midtown

Gridlock, Midtown
Photo by myself in Midtown.

What happened here? Is this the scene of an accident? Was anyone hurt?

No. This is an example gridlock. This happens every day. It's a recipe for disaster in a busy city with a street grid.

First, an ambitious car tries to beat a red light. The cars ahead of it slow down and suddenly the sneaky car finds itself caught behind traffic. Then the light changes and pedestrians take their 'right of way', willfully crossing the street.

The sneaky car is stranded. It can't go forward because of the pedestrians. It can't go backwards because of traffic trying to going the other way, if only there weren't this *@#&!^ sneaky car blocking the road. Gah!!!

Horns honk. Ordinarily sane people lose their tempers. Rude hand gestures are made. All the while, a steady stream of pedestrians navigates around the stranded car.

Related posts: A Pedestrian City, Fixing Flats in the Streets and Taxi Drivers Wanted, Brooklyn.


Lozzie Cap said...

What a fantastic picture.

This looks familiar to me, from what happens regularly in London. And there is no grid system there - the city street plan has grown organically and mainly without the attentions of any kind of gardener for the last six hundred years or so. Canadian and North American friends used to clap their hands over their eyes in abject horror when I drove at my normal speed through London's madly winding and width-shifting shapes.

Blimey. That's nearly a poem.

Washington said...

Great shot! I see this everyday here in Curitiba (and I believe all over the world)! It is funny (or sad) how people feel powerful inside their cars. Shy and polite persons turns into something else, capable of doing and saying things that surprise themselves!

Lily Hydrangea said...

I'll admit it, I have done this-out of desperation. but I promise I didn't use any rude hand gestures while waiting for the right of way & hoping I wouldn't get a ticket!

barbie said...

That's a scary scene and a terrific photo. Your pictures always seemed posed but full of motion simultaneously. I haven't liked anything so much since discovering Diane Arbus in college. Thanks for stopping by my blog with the comment about my writing.

Jose said...

I wonder imagine it has become harder with the new bike lanes and parking spots! Great photo! I've been on both ends.

Ted and Lori said...

Oh my gosh, great job capturing that moment! We were staying in Chelsea, and this happened so much while I was walking home, past Madison Square Garden especially.

Kitty said...

Ha Lozzie. I've been driven down those streets (only once) and I know why your friends would be appalled. It's scary!!!

Must be difficult to first move to places like London or Boston. Getting to know the streets must be tough.

Thanks Washington!
Ha. Funny to think people become such crazed beings the world over!

Hi Lily
You're good to admit to such things. Mark admits to it too and feels absolutely justified. You two should commiserate about how it's like, driving here. Truly an experience.

Thanks so much Barbie. I love, love, love Arbus's work. She was very gifted and brave.

Hi Jose!
I have to wonder too if the bike lanes are safer now. I can't imagine being a cyclist here and have tried taking photos of the daredevil messengers but they are much too quick.

Thanks Ted and Lori
Yes, yes, MSG is terrible with all the commuters and drivers trying to get to New Jersey. Most New Yorkers avoid that area like the plague!

Christchurch Photo Diary said...

You just gotta go with the flow...ride that wave man...

Ineke said...

yes, i am afraid this is a universal thing. Great shot.

ChristieLove said...

its so familiar its scary