Zipper Merge Goes Against Every Life Lesson We Were Ever Taught
I just saw that statement from The Moline Police Department that basically throws up their frustrated arms and says, "Oh, do whatever the Hell you want," when it comes to the awful Zipper Merge idea.
I mean no disrespect to the brave men and women who carry a badge for the City of Moline, and I'm pretty sure that even though this statement comes from the "Police Department" it was written in an office far away from the streets the officers protect and serve.
Let's look at the 'Zipper Merge" idea a little more closely, in an effort to understand when it might work, and why it should never be necessary!
Zipper merge is a basic idea of allowing alternating members of any two lines to enter the one line created by both. But for the zipper merge diagrams you've all seen to work, they start with a static group of members. Once you're no longer moving, I guess alternating is better than nothing. And as for the Police, they're tired of the calls they're getting from motorists who sound more like spoiled 5 year-olds. But if you take the real-life model, the Zipper Merge still needs 2 static lines.
Well, how do you get those lines? Easy--one is the group of people who have already moved over to the only open lane of traffic, and are slowing to accommodate the heavier traffic in less space. But where does the OTHER group necessary to make the standstill come from? Also easy: They're the self righteous poopfaces who think they shouldn't have to wait or slow down ever, regardless of the road conditions.
So when they see a lane closure (let's call them 'Speedy,') they rush ahead in the lane sensible people have already left, keeping their speed up, passing the other vehicles until it's time to try and sneak in at the last second. What happens then, is the previously slowed traffic in the open lane is forced to brake to allow Speedy into the lane. That is the chain reaction that makes slow moving (but moving just the same) traffic come to a stop. Now, when other Speedy's approach the line of traffic, they feel justified in zooming ahead, essentially doing the same thing that caused the problem, because they're much more busy and more important than you to wait, or to adjust their habits in any way.
If the important speedys had just merged over when they were first made aware of the upcoming lane closures, they could have already adjusted they speed and distance between the other vehicles, allowing for cars entering the highway, and still never have to stop! Think about your last trip over the I-74 bridge with one lane closed. Now picture that same trip moving slowly but never stopping! It's possible my peeps!
We've been taught this lesson since kindergarten: Get in line quickly and the line moves quickly. Apply the Zipper Merge to any school day and you see Fail. Oh, there's a line for meatloaf? I'll just Zipper up here and start another line I happen to be in the front of! Hmm, I bat 3rd in Wiffle ball? I'll just go on up ahead and ZIP right in there. That's a trip to detention. Zipper Merge communion at Church? Jesus wouldn't want his favorite servant to wait in line...I'll just skooch up past this old bitty with the walker. That behavior goes against everything we've ever learned. And now Moline Police Department is encouraging it? Geez.
Hope the Fire Department doesn't follow suit. I'd hate to see a Zipper Merge at a classroom door of a school that's on fire.
The problem is that we get possessive and rude when construction season comes to the Quad Cities. We forget that only by cooperating with each other do we reduce all of our inconvenience. And even if you're recent convert to the Zipper method, you spend a lot of time frustrated and mad. It's because it goes against what you know is true from Kindergarten. One line travels faster than two lines trying to fit in that same space.
So I won't Zip, and I won't block the drivers trying to get past me in the other lane. That's just plain asking for trouble. If you thought you were late before, wait 'til you're banging fists with another driver.
Be careful out there.