'Yield' means 'press on'? 'Annoying': Cars leaving the inner Beltway loop for Charles Street must fight through stubborn drivers coming from I-83 who ignore a yield sign.

The Intrepid Commuter

February 05, 1996

ON THE Charles Street exit ramp from the inner loop of the Baltimore Beltway, near where Interstate 83 traffic merges with Interstate 695, stands a splendid example of the apparent waste of money spent on our public roads.

There, just a few feet from the road and rising about 7 feet high, is a structure that few if any people ever see or pay attention to: a yield sign.

The sign is supposed to be seen and obeyed by the traffic coming from I-83. Those motorists are supposed to slow down and yield to traffic exiting the beltway.

But do they? Nope.

For instance, Rose Eley, who travels the Beltway's inner loop daily en route to Towson, said she has a difficult time getting into the right lane to make the exit to Charles Street.

In fact, she often has to nearly come to a stop and wait -- or plead -- for traffic in the yield lane to let her in.

"I've got to fight my way over there," she said, sounding combative. "The thing that is scary is that I've got slow down, and I'm yielding to them, and there's traffic coming off the beltway behind me and there's no reason for me to slow. It's just annoying, it really is."

During the evening rush hour, traffic is equally thick with vehicles from both the beltway and I-83 on the ramp, she said. "But they [I-83 motorists] have the yield, not me."

Your Intrepid One -- who apparently has too much time on our hands -- camped out there last week for about 30 minutes and watched vehicles from I-83 ignore the sign.

The Maryland Vehicle Law states that motorists who have a yield sign must stop if necessary to yield to oncoming traffic.

Lt. Minda Foxwell of the Baltimore County traffic unit said it would be a tough call which motorist to cite in the event of an accident.

"If it wasn't a serious accident, most officers wouldn't cite either motorist," Lieutenant Foxwell said.

This is a wonderful example of an ignored traffic sign and a worthy winner of the Intrepid One's Favorite Ignored Traffic Sign Or Signal Award Of The Week -- a true champion.

Brave but dangerous drivers create two lanes from one

Quiz time: When is one lane of traffic not really one lane, but two lanes? Answer: When you have a crazed motorist behind you who decides there is enough space in your lane to nudge in beside you.

It's a problem a lot of drivers face daily at the intersection of Hillen Road and Perring Parkway in Northeast Baltimore, near Morgan State University.

One lane of traffic on southbound Hillen Road -- the only lane of traffic there, folks -- dead-ends at Perring Parkway, and a right turn is required.

Here is where the funs begins.

Too often, someone who thinks he's Richard Petty or some other daredevil -- do we dare say student? -- swings wide to create his own left lane on Hillen, passing the line of cars waiting to turn from the one lane at the stop sign. Next, the daredevil turns right on to Perring Parkway from that self-made left lane -- all the while blocking the view of motorists who bothered to have properly lined up in a single lane at the stop sign.

It's dangerous.

Although there are no signs saying "one lane only" or painted lane markings or some other cute gizmo, it is only one lane. One lane.

"There should be something that tells us to stay in one lane, because someone will get sideswiped," said Kenny Washington, who lives in the area.

Maj. Alvin Winkler of the police traffic division said cars that make the turn from the left lane are guilty in the event of an accident.

"Without markers being there, it's for one car to turn left," Major Winkler said. "It's amazing they haven't had any accidents."

Michael Psenicska, a Perry Hall driving school instructor, said the dual system of cars turning at the intersection is something "that evolved" over the years, "but we instruct people to keep to the right."

Perhaps a better idea might be to post a cop for a couple of weeks, then see who gets in the far left to make a turn.

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