Removing Traffic Signals – Let Motorists Figure It Out

Traffic signals and signs overkill in the Hamptons
Several stop signs in a small area

Next Wednesday’s meeting of the Hampton Town Board is going to be quite something. You should make it your business to be there.

At that meeting, the board will consider the creation of a new ordinance requiring that all traffic signs and signals throughout the Hamptons be removed so that motorists can sort things out entirely by themselves.

Town Mayor David Hasselhoff has expressed surprise that this proposal, which he has endorsed, has gathered so much momentum since it was last talked about at the meeting four weeks ago.

“We call this ‘The Every Motorist for Him or Herself’ proposition,” he told this reporter. “We’ve seen enough.”

Edward Longstreet, the town’s Administrator of Highways, had first thought this up.

“Motorists are now desperate. Wherever you go takes an hour. They stop and go, then stop and go again,” he said. “Tempers flare. People look for an opening, then slam into gear to get to it first. They’re in Ferraris or Porsches or Teslas, cars that can speed up very fast. After getting there, they slam on the brakes. And more often than not, they hit something. Or God forbid, somebody. We can’t have this.”

With traffic lights and signals gone and with Every Man for Him or Herself approved, people will move cautiously. They will wait for what others might do. They will wave thank you.”

“Where everybody is on their own,” he concluded, “there are no accidents. It’s all documented.”

“The prime example of this,” Deputy Mayor Ted Carlson said, “is the melee that takes place at the foot of Long Wharf in Sag Harbor every day. Six roads converge. Call it a melee, a circus, an entertainment. Everybody creeps along at two miles an hour, anxiously looking this way and that as cars come in from the side, from the rear, even right down in front of you and toward you.

“Fifteen years ago, the State of New York wanted to put a roundabout there to solve this problem. We voted it down. And guess what? There have been no accidents in 15 years.”

Specifically, the passage of Every Man for Him or Herself will cause all stop signs, street markings, traffic lights, speed limit signs, left or right turn signs, signs that tell you how far along in front the next town still is, yield signs, pedestrian crossing signs, no parking signs, crosswalk hatching lines, passing lane indicators, school crossing signs and detour signs to be picked up and taken into storage.

Flanders Road will get new traffic signals and lights in two intersections.

“Some of these signs have been up since the first days of motor cars,” Mayor Hasselhoff said. “It’s time they came down.”

The proposal, he said, has been backed by nearly all organizations in our community.

The Save the Earth people are all for it. “It’s well known that the slower you drive, the greater will be the number of miles you get on a gallon of gas,” said environmentalist John Quackenbush.

The chambers of commerce are for it. “With no signs,” said Johnny J. Cash of Southampton, “you’ll see all our beautiful elm trees, town ponds, downtown commercial districts, colonial windmills, saltboxes, hanging planters and water mills unimpeded, just as the early settlers saw them.”

The school boards are for it. “Nothing will prevent the excessive loss of life of our schoolchildren better than traffic that is slower and more cautious,” said Franklin Learner, the town school superintendent.

Farmers are in favor of it. “Our potato trucks and tractors on the roads are probably the most vulnerable to what is going on now,” said Frankie Tomato. “So often a grader or a plow gets hit. I’ve been to so many funerals. This will solve that.”

Even the rich are in favor of it. “Frankly,” said Dean Banker, the chairman of the Hamptons Social Set, “we just want to get to our homes safely. We don’t care how long it takes. Everything we want is behind our hedgerows. There’s no need to go out. So it’s just about getting to them without incident.”

Also in favor of it are members of the Airbus A380 Action Committee, which has been lobbying for a longer runway at East Hampton Airport.

Said Horatio Flybynight, the president of the committee, “The Airbus is the biggest commercial airliner in the world. The runway needs to be lengthened from 3,800 feet to 12,000 feet. When that happens, each A380 landing reduces traffic on the highway by 570 vehicles. Also, it will wipe out the housing of all the people by the side of the airport who keep complaining about us.”

And the Hampton Psychiatrist Union is on board. “So much trauma results from all these accidents,” said Dr. Angela Wellfeather. “Here, we’ll have people smiling and waving at being let in. It will change everything.”

Nevertheless, Dr. Wellfeather, who chairs the union, tells us that if anxiety is increased rather than decreased, her organization is prepared to propose an amendment that would fix everything.

“Remove the traffic signs, but leave the traffic lights. Although dark, our amendment will require them to light up red for one minute out of every 10 so during that minute, all motorists can stop, sit up straight behind their wheels, sigh, do a mantra or other mind-calming exercise and restore themselves to an om state.”

And of course, Mayor Hasselhoff is in favor of it.

“Our plan will be a model for historic communities around the world. Having signed it into law, it will be a great stepping stone in my career, the man who changed travel. I could become a county legislator, a state senator or even, God forbid, the next president.”

After the discussion and possible vote on this ordinance, another of the three-hour-long monthly meetings of the Deer Control Committee will take place. As usual, speakers who propose that deer be hunted out of existence, be cuddled and fed, be darted to sleep and trucked up to the Adirondacks, be neutered, be killed by bows and arrows rather than guns, be encouraged to mate or be hog-tied and carted off to zoos will participate. Nothing in the end will get done, but it’s fun to hear all the arguments once again.

All citizens of the Hamptons are welcome to attend, this Wednesday at 10 a.m.

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