Columnists

On The Street Where I Live

I was waiting my turn, the other day, southbound at a “redneck round-a-bout”. There a millions of these intersections, located throughout the world. We used to call them “four-way stops,” but stopping is quite optional these days. Not only that, not slowing down before not stopping is quickly becoming the popular uptrend.

Lest you think I’m picking on our rural denizens at the country crossroads, let me remind you that there are tens of thousands of crossing intersections in metropolitan areas, as well. In this world of socioeconomic and geopolitical divide, not stopping may be the last projection of com-mon ground.

In some ways, I think many of us are showing tremendous financial responsibility. Municipalities spend millions of dollars to construct elaborate traffic circles to keep traffic moving through an intersection. Instead many of us are achieving the same payoff by simply not stopping at stop signs. Big savings there!

Indeed, I have to apologize to other drivers. When I approach intersections, I’m afraid that I still hear the voice of my late Mother telling me that I must follow the rules. Eventually, I’m sure that I will get over that, but until then: I’m sorry that I cost you thirty seconds in your busy day.

I can see how that can add up. If you end up behind me at one of these intersections each day going to work, that’s a whopping two and one-half minutes I cost you each week. For the year –– and I’m assuming you get two weeks off for vacation –– I’d owe you a solid 2.08 hours of your time. Think of the Netflix™ you’re missing!

Because I was actually stopped at the intersection, during that moment or two that it takes for other drivers to decide who is going to run the stop sign first, I had a brief chance to look around. I noticed that I was stopped at a peculiar intersection. I was southbound on Windham Lake Drive and to the left was Windham Lake Road. To the right was Windham Lake Way, and I could see the sign for Windham Lake Trace.

Those kinds of observations make me wonder –– wonder like, how much anxiety medicine the mail carrier for those homes takes. Beyond that, I wondered what’s the difference. What makes a road different from a way or a trace?

Turns out that there are no real rules for road names, but there are accepted conventions:

A Road is a long, narrow stretch of smoothed or paved surface for transportation. It –– along with a Route, Way, Course, or Passage –– is the most basic description.

A Street is a public way that normally has buildings (commercial or residential) on both sides.

An Avenue is usually larger than a street, and is lined with buildings or trees.

A Boulevard is a very wide avenue that has trees on both sides, and should have a grass or tree line down a center median.

A Lane is a narrow road, considered to be the opposite number to a boulevard.

A Way is a side street off a road.

A Thoroughfare always leads to another street at each end.

A Drive is a long, winding road, which commonly follows the shape of its surroundings –– like lakes or mountains.

A Trace follows the topography of a slope.

A Court is a road or street that ends in a circle or loop.

A Highway is a main road that connects cities or towns.

A Close is British, and is always blocked at one end.

Through this discovery I’ve learned that, even though the postal service considers my home to be on an Avenue, it is actually a Place. A Place is a road or throughway that leads directly to a dead-end, and the giant drainage ditch at the end of my road would surely qualify.

You’re welcomed to drop by my house and see. This time, I suggest, you make it a point to ac-tually stop when you get here. John O. Marlowe is an award-winning columnist for Sagamore News Media.