Guest Opinion: Why the rush?
There probably hasn’t been a single generation since the Industrial Revolution that hasn’t complained loudly about how life moves too quickly nowadays, and it was better “back in my time.”
Quoting Red from The Shawshank Redemption, “The world went and got itself in a big damn hurry.” Knowing this, it is easy to dismiss the cries of “Slow down in town!” as only another manifestation of generational dissatisfaction.
Yet the reality of this grassroots movement is that many Glenwood locals, of very different generations, have stopped to ask themselves, ‘What is the rush?’
When such a tiny change, laying off the gas for one and a half miles, can make such a positive impact on the community, it is important to examine what it is that makes us feel like we are entitled to every microsecond of time saved by rushing. What exactly do those seconds bring us?
Say, for example, that a driver on Grand Avenue doesn’t “take a minute,” and speeds through the downtown core at their preferred 35 mph speed. He reaches the Walmart end of town one minute earlier. Maybe he gets stopped by the light, but maybe he doesn’t.
Perhaps this driver hits the jackpot and cruises all the way to Aspen without catching a single red in the nearly 30 lights they pass. Then what? He gets to go to work sooner? He sits in the parking lot, thumbing through social media, or answering work emails before he even walks in the door? Maybe he does avoid being a few minutes late to something important.
But what did those few minutes actually cost him?
It wasn’t better for his health. He undoubtedly felt rushed the whole drive. There was almost certainly some under the breath cursing at slow drivers in the left lane, and the associated rise in blood pressure.
His speed was even more costly than he realized at the time as it significantly increased his likelihood of a collision, and endangered pedestrians.
This driver didn’t take a slow breath when traffic is equally slow, to look around at the stunning vistas which surround our valley, releasing a little stress from his day.
He missed out on the chance to see the local business signs, promoting sales and local events.
He created noise and emissions that made a tourist family on the corner of Ninth and Grand wonder if they wouldn’t rather make it out to Crested Butte next summer, removing precious potential revenue from the city’s improvement fund.
We aren’t getting away from the traffic any time soon, either. Nearly every town in the state of Colorado is currently locked into the growing pains of booming population, infrastructure updates and road maintenance.
Glenwood Springs is no exception. Many of our town thoroughfares are undergoing change, and involve shared lanes and slower speeds. And the reality is that this will get worse before it gets better.
School started this week, (over 6,000 students) which brought hundreds of more drivers out on the road during the morning rush hour. More surface paving will happen along Grand Avenue and Highway 82, and the 27th Street Bridge construction funnels drivers all the way around to Eighth Street and back up to the downtown core.
And for the moment, none of us can change any of these factors. So instead of blaming every other driver and speed limit sign on the road, creating dangerous road conditions and arriving at our destination already angry and frustrated, we need to take ownership of our commuting experience.
Plan to leave quite a bit earlier for the next month or so, until the congestion of school and construction slows, and as you turn on the ignition, mentally acknowledge that you will probably be slowed down at some point. Choose how to use that time when the going is slow and consider those few quiet minutes in the car a gift. You can’t change the thousands of cars in front of you, or the fact that you’ll get there when you get there, so find a way to make that time your own.
In return, by embracing the Sunday driver inside you, slowing down in town and not stressing about the traffic, you can instantly improve the quality of life in the town of Glenwood Springs, and elevate the possibility that you will actually have a good day.
Diane Reynolds and Lindsay DeFrates are part of the Imagine Glenwood community coalition, which is focused on traffic-calming in Glenwood Springs neighborhoods and along Grand Avenue.
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