Anybody else almost have a wreck here?

park and taylor

For 30 years now, I’ve been pulling out of the St. Peter’s Catholic Church parking lot, turning right onto Park, then left onto Taylor to head home. I also frequently make the same move at the same intersection heading home from work during the week.

As you are no doubt aware, the part of Taylor to the left of Park (heading west) is one-way — four, later widening to five, lanes all heading down toward the river.

To the right (the east) of Park, Taylor is two-way. If you look at my crude graphic above, you’ll see there’s a concrete divider going off to the right, but none to the left.

For 30 years, I’ve had no trouble. Heading north on Park, I pull up to the intersection and stop, look carefully to my right to make sure no one’s coming and trying to change lanes suddenly leftward where it becomes one-way, and then turning left into the closest lane, the way you’re supposed to do.

And I’ll confess that, having done this perhaps thousands of times without incident — and being reluctant to turn away from the direction I expect other cars to come from — I’d gotten to where I’d start rolling out slowly out into Taylor even as my head was turning in that direction. And for 30 years, this bad habit did not cause any problems.

Until a couple of weeks ago. And then, twice in one week, I had to stomp on the brakes to avoid a head-on collision with a car coming up the hill, the wrong way, in my lane!

Twice in one week! The first time I saw as an anomaly, the second time I’m starting to look upon as a trend. (Once more, Jerry Ratts would say, and we can give it to Lifestyles — if we’re still alive.)

Needless to say, I look very carefully to the left now before letting my vehicle start to roll. I’m a little obsessive about it, now. But one near-collision didn’t fully teach me that, and the second time, the other guy and I had to hit our brakes so hard that smoke came from the other car’s tires.

It scared the bejeebers out of both of us, and he started yelling at me, and I started yelling at him, and then… I shut up, and slowly rolled forward so that our windows were next to each other, rolled down my window — being careful to seem non-threatening — and told him, “This is one-way.”

He started to protest, gesturing toward the concrete median dividing the road behind me, and I said, “Yes, that’s right — it’s two-way behind me. But from here on down to the river, it’s one-way. Really.” He seemed to believe me — at least he didn’t yell any more — and we both went on our ways.

If I’d had more presence of mind, I would have asked him where he was coming from, so I could figure out where the system had failed. Is there a missing one-way sign that had always been there before?

I don’t know. But I’m wondering whether any of y’all have encountered this heart-stopping phenomenon on that stretch of Taylor.

If so, maybe we need to lobby the city to do something…


15 thoughts on “Anybody else almost have a wreck here?

  1. Karen Pearson

    Not right there, but I’ve seen (and avoided so many near misses on Assembly that It’s hard to believe. And most of them seem senseless errors. Btw, this area is minor, but the corner of Virginia, Olympia, and Bluff has become a big gamble. People have too many possibilities, plus it’s suddenly a lot more traveled than it was. And it’s more traveled by students who are often unaware of the parils. And are they EVER going to fill the potholes in the Olympia area that were created by the trucks that detoured through the neighborhood behind Olympia school while that stretch of Bluff was closed??!!!! There! I’ve had my rant about the traffic woes that were non-existent until a couple of years ago.

  2. bud

    As a former highway safety professional the rule is pretty simple, a majority of crashes are the responsibility of both parties. Granted the other dude would have been charged but drivers have an affirmative duty to drive defensively. In all my years in safety I don’t recall this location ever coming up as an issue. But it is a funky location so be careful!!

  3. bud

    Don’t know if it still is but the I-20 ramp intersections with Broad River Road ranked as the top crash location in the Columbia area.

  4. Sally

    Yes, that whole block around Saint Peter’s is dangerous, although I’m mostly down there only on Sunday afternoons when it’s quiet. Remember it was a guy driving an SUV taking a right on red without stopping, who knocked Father Linsky out of the crosswalk, resulting in a shattered arm taking nine pins to fix it. (Drivers all over town seem not to know that pedestrians have the right of way.) That area probably will get even busier when the new building (apartments?) next to the library is constructed. Remember, however, South Carolina is ranked third as having the nation’s worst drivers, and I don’t believe it has much to do with the conditions of the roads. My latest driving astonishment: For the third time in three weeks I’ve seen drivers using the center turn lane on Trenholm Road as if it was a regular traffic lane! And these folks aren’t driving slow like they’re looking for a side street. No, just tooling up the center turn lane. Where is the Forest Acres PD when you need them?!?

    1. Richard

      Remember in SC a red light doesn’t mean “stop”. It means that the next six cars can proceed through the intersection. I went through a double-intersection last week, when I went under the second light I saw it turn red… a truck 300 feet behind me didn’t even bother slowing down and just about took out a car that had a green light.

      SC drivers have to be some of the dumbest driver’s I’ve ever shared the road with. Using turn signals are just simply an option in this state.

  5. Norm Ivey

    My bride and I have been traveling in California for the last week or so. The drivers here are the most courteous and cautious drivers I’ve ever encountered. It takes getting away from South Carolina to realize how drivers are supposed to behave.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      I felt the same the first time I spent time in small-town central Pennsylvania, where I was freaked out by driver politeness. I mentioned it in a column that I think was the first column I posted on my then-new blog, in July 2005:

      Manners: While I got honked at several times when I executed truly stupid maneuvers because I didn’t know where I was going, on several occasions I ran into driver behavior that was so considerate and deferential it was downright odd. My wife and I stood on a curb on the main drag of Shippensburg, looking up and down and wondering whether we wanted to cross there, and a truck stopped — right in the middle of the block — to let us proceed in front of him. The exact thing happened twice in Carlisle — once when we were on foot, once when I was about to pull out of an alley. The cars clearly had the right of way, but stopped dead. It was so odd as to make you suspect a trick of some kind. But they were just being helpful.

      It was like I was in the Twilight Zone, or on an alternative Earth…

      1. Norm Ivey

        It was like that all over Fresno and Sacramento. Sacramento also had an incredible mass transit system, including light rail and Amtrak to San Francisco several times a day. We never needed it for our activities, but it was nice to know it was there for those who needed it.

        On the flip side, we were involved in an accident in Columbia the day before we left for California because some idiot stopped at a green light to let cars turn left in front of him. I couldn’t see the young lady turning left, and she couldn’t see me. After we collided, the other car took off. The young lady was cited, but the whole thing was caused by the idiot who didn’t follow the traffic rules.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Don’t talk to me about places with great mass transit! I’m too envious!

          My wife is always talking about great walking tours we could take in England if we can ever afford to go again. She talks about Cornwall, and Canterbury, and a northern one that would take us to Newcastle (which makes me think of two things: Eric Burdon and this — and coal, of course). Sweetening the deal, she proposes visiting some of the places where my ancestors once lived, such as Allington Castle.

          All of which I think sounds awesome, but a small part of me always thinks, How about just going back to London? They have The Tube!

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            Former family homestead Allington Castle was in my mind over the weekend because I finally started back reading Chernow’s Alexander Hamilton, and it mentioned that Hamilton wrote a sonnet for his bride-to-be. This caused me to try to remember from English classes so long ago just what made a poem a sonnet, so I went to Wikipedia.

            Of course, that led me to reading again about the man who introduced the sonnet to the English language — Sir Thomas Wyatt, my 13th great-grandfather. And he owned Allington. Then, I noticed that Allington is near Maidstone in Kent!

            Why the exclamation point? Because earlier that day, I had been working on my mother’s family (I’m descended from the Wyatts through my Dad). My Mom’s a Collins, and I was striving to take the Collins line back another generation or two, and I managed to get to John Collins, who lived his whole life (from 1569 to 1644) in Maidstone, where he was Keeper of the Gaol.

            So, being me, I thought it was really cool that two guys from opposite sides of my tree were in the Maidstone area in the 16th century.

            Anyway, the family lost Allington after the son of the poet, Thomas Wyatt the Younger, led Wyatt’s Rebellion against Bloody Mary. Thomas the Younger lost his head, and we lost the castle. Moral for future generations: If you’re going to be involved in a rebellion, don’t be the guy they name it after…

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              Yeah, with me, everything is going to come back to my genealogy mania. It’s how I spend my whole weekends, when I can.

              I spent Saturday cleaning out my closet for the first time in years. Yeah, it took the whole day — it’s a walk-in, with three levels of shelves up top, and it was really a mess. But I ended up with several big bags of clothes to give away, so it was worthwhile, not to mention that there’s a lot of dust gone from the room now, and I can actually find stuff…

              So I made up for Saturday by spending Sunday climbing my family tree…

              1. Brad Warthen Post author

                And genealogy isn’t just some ego thing. I don’t just trace my own family. I spent quite a bit of time Friday night on my wife’s, and a couple of hours Sunday taking my son-in-law’s family back several generations.

                All of it’s fun. I’m a fan of detective TV shows — Bosch, Shetland, The Wire, Inspector Lewis — and this stuff is as close as I’ll get to being a detective myself…

                1. Norm Ivey

                  I’ve casually done some genealogy research. The biggest obstacle for me is that I refuse to take word of mouth as evidence. Lots of people on Daddy’s side of the family insist there is Native American blood running in our veins, but all I can identify is farm blood.

                  1. Brad Warthen Post author

                    Yeah, I worry about word-of-mouth, too. As for your ethnicity, a DNA test will settle that.

                    I have no Indian ancestors. I have no Asian ancestors. I have no African ancestors. I’m not even slightly Jewish, or Arab, or polynesian. Basically, what Ancestry DNA told me is, “You’re the whitest white boy at Bypass High.

                    I’m totally European. I’m 45 percent Western European, 27 percent British, 21 percent Irish, 5 percent Scandinavian, and, in the “low confidence” areas, 1 percent Eastern European and LESS than 1 percent Iberian.

                    I don’t even know how that happens, considering the way people have mingled since 1492.

                    I can’t say I fully understand this, but I don’t think those are ethnic designations. I think it means I have commonalities with the DNA of other people who live in those places (someone who understands it better, correct me if I’m wrong).

                    I suppose certain people would tell me I’m 100 percent oppressor. And they wouldn’t be entirely wrong. For instance, if you go back just 300 or 400 years, you’ll think those two biggest numbers should be reversed — almost all my ancestors are in England (or the British Isles, anyway), and almost none on the European continent. But if you go back to around 1066, you’ll find that a lot of my continental DNA came across the channel in the form of Norman invaders. I have a BUNCH of Norman ancestors, and so far, not a single Saxon one. Even the ancestor whose legend is sort of tied up with Robin Hood’s was, apparently, a Norman…

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