An effluent society: Riga's atrocious traffic bottlenecks

  • 2002-03-07
  • Edgar Kariks
When will some clever person come forward and suggest a lasting solution to the daily hours of misery that occur in the fair city of Riga? Why do I have to waste 15 to 20 minutes of my life each morning crossing the 400-meter Vanshu Bridge coming into the city?

The strain on the bridge itself can't be a healthy one, not to mention the stress and anxiety suffered by drivers and passengers in overcrowded public transport as they do battle with their nerves before getting to work totally disgruntled.

Anybody who manages to cross the huge expanse of the River Daugava at peak traffic time and remain a calm, balanced and happy person should receive a medal and put a patent on their nerve-soothing technique.

As for me, I'm at wits end when I see crazy drivers every morning jumping lanes, abusing each other, tailgating and causing near-accidents while - as they call it - "maneuvering" their way across the bridge at a pace an invalid on crutches would get across faster.

How is it that immediately across Vanshu Bridge, on the corner of Citadeles and Valdemara streets, there are oodles of so-called traffic police just sitting there, hiding behind the façade of the Bank of Latvia hoping to catch a few drivers with cars that are in less than good technical repair?

Why aren't they controlling the traffic and moving it along instead of relying on obviously uncoordinated traffic lights to guide the flow?

Why hasn't anyone in the department responsible for this sort of thing attempted a solution? Why are there traffic bottlenecks all the way along Valdemara Street right up to the National Theater on the way out of town across the aforementioned Vanshu Bridge, and then a completely unimpeded flow until it all starts again at the Slokas Street-Kalnciema Street intersection across the river?

Somebody should take note. The increase in fuel emissions alone from the hundreds of vehicles on the bridge at any one time is surely a major health hazard. Fuel being burnt for no productive reason is a trait not of an affluent, but of an effluent society.

Maybe this time it's not just a job for some poor clerk in the Transport Ministry. Maybe the solution can be reached by coordinated dialog between various ministries and departments.

Does anybody in Riga really care? I wonder if the mayor has ever wondered why the traffic outside the City Council building on Valdemara is always at maximum density.

Maybe we should do what our visiting international politicians do when they arrive in Riga. It seems that the guys in the escort convoys are masters at dissolving traffic jams.

I would certainly not want to be in their way driving my beat-up old Moskvich.

Maybe we are all too busy? Perhaps a public bank account should be opened where people donate money toward a solution? One day, the price will be right and a solution will come forth.

Some clever person will win the jackpot. I suggest the placing of barriers between lanes. That would prevent lane-jumping for a start. What do you think?