Back to a lighter topic today, which of course comes back to something to do with driving. I try not to always lean to my driving rants, but because I often write first thing in the morning after having driven into work, that is what is most prevalent on my mind.
Today, manhole covers. I view these as necessary to our modern sewage convenience, yet those city planners and road workers have a way of making them far more involved in my daily drive than need be. We all abhor potholes and the bumpy ride they can give us, but what about those fixtures that were intentionally installed as part of the street? How is it a little extra planning and a little care in the workmanship to make sure these don’t add to the shock treatment our cars get from the daily commute?
Some of you may be raising an eyebrow and wondering what the heck I am talking about. I realize this isn’t a problem in all areas. More rural areas could care less because they likely operate on a septic system and haven’t seen a manhole cover and could care less too. In a major city, those covers may be the least of your concerns as the roads so beat up that running over a cover may be the smoothest part of the block. Where I live, though, the roads are actually in decent enough condition overall that I take note when something is going to cause me to come out of my seat.
My first complaint, where they are placed. Why is it our fabulous city planners can’t put these things either in the middle of the road or at least in the middle of the lane so you can naturally avoid it with your tires? In the middle of the lane, it would exist were (at least most of us) tend to avoid, along with the incoming traffic. In the middle of the lane, those traveling where they should be wouldn’t sail on over without a thought. But no, those things are thrown in like a vehicular slalom course going back and forth between sides. Being in a small car like I am, hitting one of these is not a small thing. Whether raised or beneath the level of the street, I worry I am going to bottom out a strut if I am not paying attention.
And of course, this course doesn’t follow a back and forth pattern either. The planners thought it would be a great game to put them so you get into a groove swaying back and forth, only to break the pattern and put two in a row on the same side, then back to the opposing side. I have found that I unconsciously know my route to work and when I need to cut a corner or take it wide to straddle a cover rather than hit it with a tire.
My other gripe is getting these things somewhat level the road. I am sure it takes a bit longer and perhaps some extra expense, but you’d think they could get these things somewhat level with the road. Slope that asphalt, or as I have seen on some streets, use concrete in a 1-2 foot circle around the thing. It makes for a smoother ride and a happier set of drivers. Much like my rant about after construction poor street patch jobs, when the city tears up the street to do some repairs to the sewage system, I can’t understand why they can’t get the street back to something resembling its previous state. No, the street ends up like a rippling stream of bumpy asphalt, with the cover either inset for a dip or sticking out like a speed bump.
I’ll admit, in the big picture of life this doesn’t seem like much, but it is an annoyance that could be avoided. We can’t do much about their placement any longer, but we can make them a little more integrated to the road. So, city workers on the roads, I’ve seen you out there. The three of your holding up the shovels while the one guy is working put those shovels to work and make those repairs a bit better for the rest of us.