Lake County Motorist

Suburban Chicagoland commuter and motorist weblog

Road Rave: Yorkhouse Road

My original “favorite road in Lake County” is Yorkhouse Road, specifically the stretch between Delaney Road and Green Bay Road. This stretch is rarely if ever congested, and the route is 2 miles of motoring delight. The pavement is smooth, the path includes a great S-curve, the speed limit is 55MPH and the road is bordered by the Waukegan Savanna, guaranteeing that the land should remain open for quite some time – or so I hope.

Proposals have been made for the Waukegan Park District to turn part of the Savanna into soccer fields. Older writings indicate that the Waukegan Regional Airport may have considered using part of the Savanna for expansion. Enjoy this open stretch of high-speed joy before development slows the speed limit to a family-friendly pace.

Street lamps are few along the portion that borders the Savanna, but due to the open surroundings the road never feels scary and dark. On clear nights, the stars seems as bright as street lights with a brilliance unseen anywhere in the city of Chicago. Yorkhouse Road makes me happy to be driving in the suburbs.

This would also be a good road to experience by bike, but note that there is not a bike path alongside Yorkhouse; a cyclist would have to take chances with the speedy vehicular traffic. This road would be better suited for daylight cycling than night cycling, again due to the speed of traffic , S-curve and dearth of street lamps.

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Filed under: Road Raves, Roads, , ,

Back down Route 120

This actually happened Wednesday night during “It Came From the Sky, Part 2″.

While creeping west on Route 120, I noticed a stopped vehicle in the eastbound lane, with cars began accumulating behind it like snowflakes on the cold pavement. I shrugged, assuming that either the stopped vehicle had been rear-ended or had broken down.

Suddenly, the vehicle’s right-turn signal began flashing. That was when I noticed that it was backing up, down Route 120, at night, in the snow.

The driver backed up for another 20 feet or so, then very slowly made a right turn (forward) into a church parking lot that has a day-care sign out front.

I nearly screamed the glass out of my windshield in utter amazement.

Barring any medical emergency or vehicular failure, really now: what was this person thinking, backing up down a major road in this weather? It’s called “keep driving forward until you find a safe place to turn around, and do so”.

I give kudos to the drivers held up by this incident. Nobody set forth a car horn sonata, despite the delay. Perhaps these motorists drank from a wellspring of patience and compassion borne of the crappy road conditions, while I took a swig of stunned surprise.

I once saw a car back up 500 feet on Route 41 because the driver apparently missed the exit. I assume the two incidents aren’t related, except that Wednesday’s experience dredged up the memory. This kind of driving is best left to cartoons, movies and Europe, not Grayslake.

Filed under: Commuting, ,

The dangers of a long commute

Penelope Trunk recounts a harrowing incident of drowsy driving in an article about hitting rock bottom with an unfit job.

I’d like to add “physical pain” to the list of dangers. Long hours in stop-and-go traffic literally are a pain for me: Relentless acceleration and braking causes my knee to hurt, and my carpal tunnel starts acting up from extended sessions gripping the steering wheel. After the one-hour mark, there are few things I want more than to get out of the car and stretch my legs.

Taking the same route day after day can lead to boredom, which could increase the risk of drowsy driving like Penelope experienced. That’s why I’m always looking for ways to lessen the stress of a long commute, such as taking alternate routes to keep myself challenged or singing along to pop songs on the radio in an Elmer Fudd voice (try it, it’s fun). There’s also that Great Chariot, the Metra train, and I appreciate opportunities to let someone else press the pedal for a change.

My driving commute isn’t always a pain-ridden nightmare, and I can break up the monotony by running errands after work. This, however, leads to a new problem: “rapid wallet weight-loss syndrome”. Rather than face an hour and a half on the Tri-State or sitting on Milwaukee Avenue in Libertyville held up by a clot of cars, I’ll shop for household supplies after work and likely end up spending more money than if I ran a controlled shopping trip on the weekends.

I have no plans to leave my job so I’ll keep “working with what I’ve got” when it comes to the commute. As long as I have options, I’ll consider my commute manageable if somewhat long. I can say this now, but ask me again in five years when I’m ready to live on gruel and carrots to afford a house closer to work. Seems there’s always a price to pay when it comes to commuting.

Filed under: Commuting, ,

It came from the sky

News flash: It’s January in Chicagoland. Snow fell out of the sky last night and landed on surfaces, including the roads. It fell and fell throughout the night, and hours later when the sun rose over the morning commuters……it was still there, as if nobody anticipated that such a thing could happen here and now.

WBBM 780‘s amiable traffic reporter Bart Shore referred to this morning’s commute as the worst he’d seen in a while. I scoffed (Word of the Week) at Bart’s assessment, until I left home and found myself staring at miles of taillights on eastbound Route 60.

Sadly, that was the speediest part of my commute. I’m kidding, somewhat. When I finally pulled into the company parking lot nearly two hours later, my sense of humor was gone.

Two-lane county roads wore thin coats of snow and ice at 7:30 this morning. Were trucks not out plowing and salting through the night, as snow fell out of the sky and landed on surfaces including the roads? Poor road conditions only heighten headaches on traffic-choked routes already suffering under the weight of Lake County’s population explosion, of which I am part of the “problem”.

As evidenced from my reaction to Bart, I didn’t think it would be so bad out there until I got out there. I wonder if our transportation team thought the same?

……

Footnote: In all fairness, judging by several reports the traffic was bad all over Chicagoland, not just in Lake County. But my first-hand experience was with Lake County roads, so that’s what I covered.

Filed under: Road Conditions, ,

On the prowl for speeders

werecarBased on, ahem, recent personal observations, it’s a good time to advise my fellow motorists to watch their speeds and cease the reckless moves. And as a gift to you, I’m passing along a link to a well-known online speed trap directory.

Speedtrap.org lists traps for several Lake County communities. Lake County suburbs with several recent traps posted, and in which I personally have seen authority vehicles in similar locations include Deerfield, Grayslake, Lake Forest, Round Lake Heights, Vernon Hills, Wadsworth…the list goes on and on.

If this leaves you wanting more, ChicagoGasPrices.com‘s forum has a thread dedicated to Chicagoland speed traps.

Ummm……North Chicago?

The Tollway Authority’s website used to list roads targeted for enforcement in the coming weeks. I wish they’d resume this practice.

In Semi-Related News: It’s a full moon, and legend has it that lunacy is in the air. Let’s all try to keep the lunacy off the roads.

Filed under: Moving Violations, , , , , , , , , ,

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