Vidcast: The Disappearing Passing Lane

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Have you noticed? That formerly legal passing zones are systematically being painted over double-yellow? But it’s not just that. Safe, efficient passing as such has been targeted for termination – whether deliberately or inadvertently – via conflicting laws that allow legal passing only by doing so unsafely.

Here’s what I mean by that:

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721 Hummingbird Lane SE
Copper Hill, VA 24079me on bike



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  1. The passing lanes are also disappearing because the left lane has become the new right lane on many of America’s highways: Left-lane squatters doing precisely the speed limit. I can often go faster in the right line these days than I can in the left. Unless there’s a pilot fish clover in the right lane doing the exact same speed limit to make sure the speed limits are respected.

  2. I’m mixed on the declining 2 lanes dropping to 1 with a left turn lane. The 2 lanes were always blocked by 2 clovers side by side proud in their authoritarian unity both going 2 mph under the limit, keeping all mankind safe with their knowing better than the rest of us. Now, they can’t/don’t block when I pass in the suicide lane. They honk, they flash their lights, but goddam do they respect that solid yellow with the respect usually reserved for the costumed enforcers.

  3. I’ve done several motorcycle tours on the BRP from VA to TN and back again. When going gets slow on the double yellow, I take my chances and pass anyway. In the past couple years, I’ve toured up to Vermont and learned their double yellow is a recommendation only. You can legally pass.

    • Same here, Mike!

      The rule ought to be: Pass when safe (according to your own judgment). If someone screws up, that’s on them. Presumptively treating me – and you – as inept/reckless because someone else was is absurd (as well as vicious).

      Unfortunately, this is how the system works. A given road may have been “incident free” for decades – with a lawful broken yellow passing zone. But one garish wreck – the result of one person’s poor judgment or recklessness – and they paint over the legal passing zone and it’s now illegal for anyone to pass, whether they’re perfectly capable of doing so safely being beside the point.

  4. Eric, I live on US 221 too, only a little further south.

    Recently, the same thing happened here on 221.

    And like your area, there are lots of scooters here as well as people who drive at least 10-15 mph under the posted limit.

    Even more aggravating is that the actual enforced limit around here (other than during DWI fishing expeditions) is 10+ whatever is posted.


    Yep, they’ve been painting double yellows in formerly legal and perfectly safe passing zones.

    Sometimes I might forget that the lines were changed.

    Fuck malum prohibitum.

    I pass when its safe and don’t have enough extra time in my life to drive blindly behind an elderly person who insists on going 10 under the posted limit/20 under the actual limit.

    • Hi Roy,

      Good to meet another edentulite! (We’re about 15 miles north from downtown Floyd; near the J&J, if you know where that is.)

      Yep – lots of old Clovers around these parts.

      Some of them get noticeably angry when passed, too. They’ll flash their lights, honk their horn. I just don’t get it. When I am hauling stuff in my old truck, and driving below the PSL (or slower than anyone coming up behind me), I always wave them by at the first opportunity.

      It’s no skin off my nose – and it reduces tension (as well as congestion).

      But these are concept Clovers will never grok!

    • I’ve been wondering if such ploys as doing away with passing zones, aren’t designed to make the public demand/tolerate more busywork road construction?

      Here, in the last few years, they’ve been widening/straightening many of the two-lane highways, with the excuse that the bubbas were having too many accidents, not being able to pass safely or navigate simple curves.

      And this is a very rural area, and there’s never a lot of traffic!

      It sucks, too- as it is destroying the character of many small towns; and uprooting many people who lived along these roads! (Not to mention the obscene amounts of money it is costing!)

      I can imagine their next move, too: After getting us used to these wide straight roads where one can safely drive at higher speeds, I’ll just bet they’re going to start stationing radar-armed porkers at strategic locations, so they can have another stream of revenue. It was hard to speed on the old roads- as there would often be a slow-moving truck or farm equipment, or you’d have to slow down for the curves…..but now they’ve made it easy to speed; the trap has been set- now all that remains is to station a few rats to catch the scurrying mice.

  5. While we’re on the subject of insurance: How is it that they can require us to have ins. just to exercise our right to travel freely (By precedent then, I guess they could require us to have ins. to exercise our right of free speech- after all, we might say something that “offends someone”- Hey, if you don’t have speakers insurance, then you’ll have to remain silent!…)

    But what they should require mandatory insurance for (and I’d have no problem with it, as it doesn’t involve a right or the public- but rather the restraint of gov’t) is TO BE A STINKING COP!

    Think about it: If pigs had to have individual insurance, paid for out of their own donut-filled pockets, just think how different things would be! They’d have to be careful not to cause incidents of harm, death or damage, because they’d quickly be priced out of the market if they did; and when [not “if”] they did, instead of the taxpayers footing the bill, as we do now, the ins. co.s, funded by the premiums paid by the pigs would be the ones to foot the bills.

    It’s funny- all the BS the gov’t imposes on us- unconstitutionally- but something it SHOULD do, to restrain itself and to ensure justice; and to prevent we the people from having to pay for their indiscretions…it doesn’t do….of course.

    Imagine how different this country would be, if we had pursued THAT?! It’d be so simple. Wanna be a pig? Then you post a liability bond or buy insurance. Your insurance lapses? You don’t “work”.

    Instead, every Joe Sixpack has to carry insurance to drive the minivan down to the 7-11….but the tools who are out there shooting people; engaging in 100MPH car chases ’cause they saw a joint in a guy’s ashtray; and using battering rams to barge into people’s houses, are virtually untouchable, and WE end up paying for all of their crimes.

    • the way the claim the right to require auto insurance is that they own the roads. Not that they should, but they do.

  6. Re: Mandatory/non-free-market insurance:

    I don’t know if it’s the case in all states, but I know in many now-a-days, a ticket/accident will follow you for a long time (especially once it gets into the insurance database) to your detriment; but if you’re a safe driver, who has never had a ticket or accident in 30 years, your “clean” history will NOT follow you- as many DMVs are only keeping records for three years.

    So say you have not had any violations for 30 years, you look indistinguishable from someone who may have had 5 accidents and 20 tickets 10 or 15 years ago.

    i.e. as far as safe/complaint driving goes, they are only capable of looking at the past 3 years. So even the safest drivers get lumped in with everyone else- and you thus can not get a discount for being a very safe long-term driver.

    So someone like myself, who has had no moving violations, ever [Lucky!] and only one accident in 30 years (100% other guy’s fault- pulled out of a stop sign right in front of me) is not distinguishable from a friend of mine who had a ton of major accidents (all his fault) in the 90’s. He gets the same rate that I do…or rather, I have to pay as much as he does for insurance, because they only look at the past 3 years- and can’t “see’ any further back than that, even if they wanted to- unless it’s in their (your particular insurance co.’s) records.

    So, us uber-safe drivers are essentially subsidizing the mediocre/bad ones.

    • An excellent point, Mole!

      Now, if we had the right to decline their “services,” for that and other legitimate reasons, some much-needed corrective would be brought to bear.

      I’ll give you a parallel example:

      It is not yet mandatory to buy home insurance (assuming you own your place; i.e., have paid off the mortgage). Well, a couple years ago, for no legitimate reason, the shyster company (this means all of them) that issued our policy summarily decreed the cost was going to go up by a considerable amount. I called, asked why. Noted that we’ve never filed a claim, that nothing (in terms of our risk profile) was any different that I could see. Their answer? Rates are just going up for everyone. Really? Not for us. Cancel the got-damned policy.

      It felt almost as good as sex to tell the unctuous prick that.

      • DAYUM, Eric! 😀 I think we’re living parallel lives or something!

        I did the same thing not 2 months ago! Got the homeowner’s insurance bill, and noticed the premium had been raised nearly THIRTY percent- and I have never had a claim of any sort. I was almost expecting it, though- as I figgered[sic] they’d be looking to recoop their expenses from “Superstorm Sandy”, even though it never visited KY.

        LSS…I’m now “self-insured”! And you are SO right; it feels SO good!

        If only we could do that with the vee-hickles! At least in some states, like NY ironically- you can post a bond in lieu of insurance- but here in KY you can’t even do that!

        The tens of thousands of dollars I’ve paid in insurance premiums over the years are just another tax. Never had a claim; never caused the ins. co. to pay out so much as a dime…..but I’m forced to subsidize drunks and the reckless and irresponsible.

        Back in the 90’s I picked up a ’66 Catalina wagon for junk with my tow truck- I found a pamphlet in the glove compartment, from 1959, warning of the dangers of the mandatory insurance NY was seeking to enact at the time. There I was, 40 years later, reading it- it was a “prophecy” which indeed came to pass.

        It was nice to see though, that back then, at least a decent sized segment of the population must have been concerned about the tyranny of such things- apparently, there had been an organized movement to oppose mandatory insurance. Today, that tyranny is so ingrained, that 99.8% of the people would think us nuts for opposing it. Wish I would have kept that pamphlet, just for a reminder of the world that America (even NY) then was!

        And the real irony is: Mandatory insurance causes people to be more reckless. They can relax and not have to worry if they take a reckless chance because they have the insurance, so no worries about them losing their house or property if they cause damage and can’t pay- picture ’em saying “That’s what insurance is for!”.

        • Schools and media. So long as they have these it is just a matter of time. They just keep pounding and pounding and when enough resistance dies off the trained and conditioned population goes for it and overwhelms the remaining resisters. Every one of their schemes ends up coming to pass sooner or later. Once it has it is normalized. People don’t know how to live without it. They cannot conceive a different way of doing things.

          it’s really depressing to think about it.

  7. Its not just passing zones on two lane highways going away either. In many suburban areas (including mine) many main roads are going on what is called by the “planners” as a “road diet”. They take a four lane road (2 lanes in either direction), and turn it back into a two lane road. Most then have a turn (often very wide) lane (suicide lane) down the middle.

    When they were four lane roads, the line down the middle was always double yellow. But they stay double yellow when they are three lane roads, but now you don’t have a left lane to pass. And people go crazy (honk etc) when you pass them in the suicide lane.

    And most clovers are too dumb to use the turn lane as a turn lane. So they try to make a left turn directly from the traffic lane! So if there is oncoming traffic, they bottle up the traffic lane by stopping in it! In spite of an often very wide turn lane directly next to them on their left…………………where they should be,,,,,,ughhh.

    Frankly clover clusters are very dangerous. Far more dangerous then people passing.

    When passing left of center, on two lane highways like the one in your video, you should be going fast when passing to get out of the oncoming lane as fast as possible. It also puts you further in front of the person your passing as well when you go faster.

    • Hi Rich,

      Yup – the same thing’s going on here (VA), too.

      I agree with Brent that the object (the real object) is to make driving as such so unpleasant that people just give up. That taking the bus or train becomes the preferable alternative.


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