August 21, 2022

By Arthur H. Gunther III

     For many decades, from the very first automobiles, when horse-drawn wagons and carriages were still about, there was a right-turn path at a stoplight intersection in a little hamlet not far from me. It seemed to offend no one; I can recall no newspaper reports in my time as a journalist of accidents at the intersection. 

     Yet now, as “progress” continues in what is now suburbia approaching an urban-suburban existence, the “free-to-go” right-turn path has been removed in favor of a corner planting, which may go to weed if there isn’t a regular municipal work order for same.

     Now, in the great scheme of things – Covid, greed, war, democracy threatened – who should care that some motorists now must wait in line at a stoplight rather than slide to the right and take the path, subject only to a “Yield” sign?

       Why care? Because the path was “free,” taking it reminded you that sometimes in this hectic world you can get a pass, not have to wait in a traffic line, just be careful and yield. Small thing, but sort of like having a school snow day or, as a child, staying up late.  

     We all need a breather. Can’t always have the rules ruling us.

     I imagine that the intersection has been converted to a four-way traffic-light stop and the right-turn path eliminated so as to meet federal/state funding rules, or to reduce liability to municipalities in this over-litigated world.

     Whatever. I will miss the path no longer to be taken at Middletown Road and Central Avenue, Pearl River, N.Y.

     The writer is a retired newspaperman.