At the corner of Guadalupe and 31st streets, there is a crosswalk that is probably the only aspect of Austin I hate more than the people who hang out at Spider House.
The “crosswalk” consists of a single stoplight that hangs between the east and west sides of Guadalupe Street. When a pedestrian presses the button to cross, the light begins flashing yellow, warning oncoming cars to begin slowing down. Apparently, said pedestrian is too lazy to walk down to the corner of 30th and Guadalupe, where there is a fully functioning stoplight and four-way crossing. The light then turns red, instructing cars to stop and allowing the pedestrian to cross the street. After a few seconds, it begins to flash red, telling drivers that they should stop and then proceed if the coast is clear. Essentially, the stoplight goes from yellow to red to stop sign in a few seconds.
Aside from being incredibly annoying, the lights wouldn’t be too terrible if it were just the pedestrians causing delays. It only takes a few seconds for a pedestrian to cross and then both drivers and walkers are free to go about their days.
Rather, it’s the other drivers that make 31st and Guadalupe so incredibly unbearable. Drivers will either soar through the crosswalk like the finger of God has just flicked them or, as more often happens, just sit dumbfounded when the light goes from red to flashing red. Once it starts flashing they’re allowed to go, but instead they just sit there, staring forward in confusion.
Any reasonable and sane person should be able to take in the situation, see that any pedestrians are no longer present and process that they can now continue on their journey. But no, almost one in three drivers will just sit there, inevitably delaying every car behind them.
And who are these people who can’t comprehend slightly confusing traffic signs? Perhaps Californians who come to Austin because it’s hip and then fasten like leeches to South Congress condos. Or they’re the kind of people who move in to West Campus and then complain about the fraternity parties, as if they didn’t know what they were buying when they signed their lease. Or maybe they’re the faux-hip co-op dwellers who peacock their indie-ness by drinking Ziegenbock, oblivious to the fact that it’s owned by Anheuser-Busch.
Perhaps Austin needs more confusing traffic signs. While it may increase the number of accidents and make traffic more unpleasant in the short run, the city would eventually sort itself out in some Darwinian way.
Then the city can slip back into the warmth of yesteryear, before the tech boom or SXSW, back when college students and state legislators had a monopoly on the all the jackasses in town.
Instead, our generation was raised on YMCA fields by referees who kept no score and coaches who gave everyone a trophy simply for showing up. Then, years later, we were made to think that we were entitled to a college degree and that we needed the quintessential college experience to cap our maturation. After-school specials and our parenting-book-educated parents told us it would all be OK so long as we followed our dreams and stayed true to ourselves, even if that meant earning a degree in some obscure ethnic studies major that has no practical utility in the job market.
And so, an entire generation of American college graduates are now sitting at stop lights, unable to comprehend what exactly is in front of them. For heaven’s sake: Go, damnit. Stop waiting for someone to tell you what to do. Honk. Honk.
Also, did you know that UT owns the largest winery in the state? That’s right, Ste. Genevieve wine is made on University property out in West Texas. So next time you’re at the store, support your university and grab a bottle of St. G. Seriously, if you’re drinking Barefoot or Yellow Tail, you might as well be an Aggie.