This is not a Chile rant. This is actually probably a pretty universal one, so feel free to grab some popcorn and nod along.
Tonight, as we were coming back from dinner, a car asked us for directions. We were on the street Salvador, and this car’s driver was looking for the hospital of the same name. Rodolfo motioned toward the building to our left – part of the hospital complex.
The driver, however, was looking specifically for the ER entrance. His passenger looked quite calm, so I hope he wasn’t the one with an emergent situation, but the driver was still pretty agitated and obviously, if you’re looking for the ER, you’re not likely to be in the mood for dawdling.
Rodolfo explained that the ER was straight and to the left at the first stoplight – if, that is, left turns were allowed at this time. You see, Salvador is one of Santiago’s reversible streets. Some streets are two-ways at night and on weekends but change to one-way during the morning commute and the other-way during the evening commute. It’s actually quite a genius idea to help the traffic flow, although I do always wonder about the chaos during the first few minutes after a direction change.
Anyway, the hospital. We pulled up to the stoplight and saw that in fact, left turns are only allowed during the evening commute, when the whole street is going one way, avoiding the traffic jams that could be created if cars in one lane were to wait to turn left against oncoming traffic.
Now, from a traffic flow perspective, I understand this signage. But wait one second – we are talking about an emergency room. This is ridiculous for two reasons.
1) The street that the entrance is actually on is already one-way. Are you seriously going to further cut down the ways that people in need of urgent care can reach a hospital? Seriously?
2) If I am having an emergency, your street signs? They can go screw themselves. Seriously. If the person in my car is bleeding or unconscious or what have you, I do not give a crap about your “no left turn” business, so the sign is just asking for people to ignore it. And before you think this is part of the plan to generate revenue from tickets, let me add that Santiago police do not seem to give a crap how anyone drives, and I’ve seen far worse things than illegal left turns go unpunished.
Aaaand that’s it. There’s no real point or conclusion here, just sharing one of those moments in life where you wonder what on earth those people were thinking. You’re welcome to share your own stories of poor city planning in the comments.