‘Righty mergers’ are latest scourge

Everyone’s having a Presidents Day clearance, so why not Action Line? Especially when the Mea Culpa Mailbag is brimming with so many timely goodies.

The East Third Avenue “puller-outer” situation has created a ruckus, as several loyal readers expound on the legal, but rarely well-executed act of pulling out from a side street into the median and waiting for traffic to clear:

“Yes, puller-outers are noticeable, but what really gets my goat are the ‘righty mergers,’” writes Sarah Trautmann.

“Righty mergers are those idiots who use the median or center lane on Camino del Rio and on north Main Avenue as a merge lane to the right,” she laments. “It’s left turn only.”

We’ve all seen (or done) this dicey maneuver, especially on north Main Avenue.

Drivers on side streets need to turn left onto Main Avenue. So they pull out into the double-yellow median, wait for a break in traffic and then merge right.

“I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve actually needed to use that median left-turn-only lane to actually turn left, only to find the lane blocked by a blockhead using it as a merge-right lane,” Sarah said.

Action Line checked in with Durango Police Department regarding “righty mergers.” It’s a traffic violation.

Officer Sean Douglass reminds drivers that the center median “is technically a turning lane, not a merge lane for side-street traffic.”

You can also get a ticket for slowly driving down the median for a block, which some clueless “righty mergers” do.

“Two Bicycling Boulevardians” add their two cents regarding two-wheeled puller-outers.

“The problem is that many Third Avenue drivers don’t know how to deal with bicyclists in the median,” they write anonymously.

“We apologize in advance for the bicyclists who break traffic laws, but drivers, please don’t stop for bicyclists in the median. If you’d just keep going, we can cross after you pass by without a problem,” the said.

“It’s like stopping at a green light to let people waiting at the red light run it and go first. It doesn’t help anyone.”

And finally, our good friend Dave Welz punctuates his definitive observation with a pregnant pause.

“As (Durango historian) Duane Smith has pointed out, East Third Avenue was modeled by streets in Colorado Springs. I lived there for a few years, and ‘pulling out’ into the median before crossing the other lanes of traffic was the rule,” Dave writes.

“I’m not sure if Colorado Springs-based Focus on the Family had any say in that, but I’m sure they prefer it to other methods of avoiding unwanted … collisions.”

In other matters, Ken Le Roy of “suburban Bayfield” reacts to recent happenings.

“So the health department makes an orderly evacuation because a blood-pressure instrument broke and some mercury spilled. Gosh, I remember when I was a kid (shortly after the glaciers receded), it was great fun to find a thermometer and break it so we could play with the mercury,” Ken recalls.

“So far, although my wife might argue, I don’t seem to show any abnormalities or strange diseases.”

Action Line suggests you dodged a silver bullet. Liquid mercury is a fascinating but dangerous substance best kept encased in scientific instruments.

And to wrap things up this holiday, a nice note from Michael Anziano, chairman of the Fort Lewis College psychology department. “Thanks so much for the ‘shout out’ in Monday’s column,” he writes.

Psychology has the highest number of majors at FLC, which prompted Action Line last week to comment: “If academics were a pageant, psychology would be given the sparkling tiara and a sash. What would Sigmund Freud think of that?”

“Once our department did hold a pageant, but that’s another story,” Anziano said.

“I’m not sure what Sigmund would think of the sash and sparkling tiara, but I can tell you we have Freud’s first slip right here in our archives. It’s a silk–cotton blend. The man had some class,” he said.

Email questions to actionline@durangoherald.com or mail them to Action Line, The Durango Herald, 1275 Main Ave., Durango, CO 80301. You can request anonymity if you ever staying at an inn that claimed “George Washington Slept Here.”