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Randy's Corner

About North Georgia publisher Randy Golden contributes a look into life in north Georgia, the Web, or anything that's on his mind.

Hello, friends
I would not want to be a traffic planner in north Georgia. I am certain it is a thankless job that not many people in the outside world understand or appreciate. Faced with increasing population and a lack of funding they use available tools to reduce the number of accidents to an "acceptable" level.

As north Georgia grows roads are becoming more crowded than intended. To offset the increase in traffic the state, counties and cities have begun to reduce speed limits to a manageable level. These lower speed limits help control the number of accidents by increasing the "think time" people have. It is a cost effective means of reducing accidents and deaths on our highway. Of course, there are always those who disagree with changes in speed limits, or even speed limits in general.

Kimball Bridge Road in Alpharetta runs past the police department just before it joins Old Milton Parkway. It is one of the many back roads I use when I travel to the area, normally on business. A small African-American community, centered around Clear Springs Church, has been there since I was a little boy (and is probably significantly older than that). I was making my way home on Kimball Bridge Road a few weeks ago when I encountered my first incident of "road rage."

I normally do the speed limit, especially when I know the police station is right around the corner, and on this day I was going at the posted 35 miles an hour. A man had been tailgating me for over a mile -- that's not uncommon these days -- and I had flipped my rearview mirror up so that I did not have to watch his headlights get dangerously close to my rear. This works for me - out of sight out of mind.

Well, the guy behind me did not particularly like me doing the speed limit. He felt I should do whatever speed he wanted me to do and began blowing his horn and waving both hands in a gesture I interpreted as "What are you doing?" Hemmed in by a double-yellow line the man continued to tailgate and I continued to ignore him. Finally, he zoomed around my car in spite of the double-yellow line, flipped his middle finger at me, pulled in front of me and slammed on his brakes. Luckily I was prepared for this last move.

When he finally decided that he could not make me as angry as I had apparently made him he took a drink on a beer, sped up and continued on. Now if this was Hollywood, a cop would have come out of the station, witnessed the entire incident and arrested this idiot. But its not Hollywood and the cop didn't come out. At the next light, I pulled in behind him and he continued making gestures. I laughed. For the next two lights I ended up directly behind him on Old Milton Parkway, a road three lanes wide each way, a much safer place to pass. Then he turned right and I continued on my way home.

This type of behavior always interests me. A friend explained the nature of the act that I considered aggression. "Tailgating is normally an attempt to control you, not aggression," he explained, "but passing in a no-passing zone and slamming on the brakes is definitely aggressive. This type of behavior occurs in high-density traffic or urban areas."

So now we see north Georgia (and I consider Alpharetta to be north Georgia) becoming a high-density traffic area just like downtown Atlanta. It came as no surprise to us that the haven of north Georgia and Atlanta outside the perimeter continued its recently unbroken record as the leader in growth for the decade of the 1990's. Some counties, like Gilmer and Dawson saw relative growth rates above 70% for the ten-year period while our old friend Gwinnett County led the pack in actual growth with the addition of 225,000 people. North Georgia, we hardly know you.

Randy Golden, Publisher


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