P R E L U D E
Over the years, Emory has become an increasingly difficult school to get into. Once people do get in, however, it seems the real challenge is getting out.
As many students, faculty, and alumni know, it can be incredibly frustrating, and potentially dangerous, crossing the street from the University to Emory Village at the often snarled five-point intersection of Dowman Drive and Oxford and North Decatur roads, the traditional entrance to the University. With the proliferation of gourmet coffee cafés in the Village, hundreds queue up to cross every day. Watching how people navigate is an easy way to separate Emory neophytes from the old guard--tentative freshmen often begin their march a split second before traffic starts to roll in their direction, while many professors don't even have to glance up from their New York Times to know when it's safe.
But you don't have to have spent your life teaching at Emory to master this maneuver. It's actually quite simple and safe if you know how to go with the flow.
First things first. Blinking "Walk"/"Don't Walk" signs posted on the corners of Oxford Road at the University entrance and near the Chevron station, and on North Decatur in front of Everybody's Pizza, are designed to funnel pedestrians safely from campus to commerce. And they work, even if they aren't lickety-split quick. Instead of crossing in front of westbound traffic heading down North Decatur, which most people do, merely obey the blinking signs and take the alternate route. It's admittedly a bit slow, but it's better safe than speedy.
But if speed is of the essence, crossing the other way is equally safe if you can harmonize with the traffic. The first movement in this motorized scherzo allows cars that have been idling alongside Glenn Memorial Church on North Decatur to turn into campus, travel west down North Decatur, or angle off onto either section of Oxford Road. When that segment is played out, the tempo builds for cars traveling east on North Decatur, which have been bottling up and blocking access to the precious few parking spaces in front of the Village.
After that movement has faded, the third and most challenging section of the piece is orchestrated. One green light cues traffic to move north on Oxford Road either into the University, farther up Oxford Road, or left on North Decatur. Another simultaneous light permits cars to leave the University down any of the aforementioned streets. It's anyone's guess as to who has the right of way, and blaring car horns often punctuate this rolling symphony. The downbeat for the final stanza occurs when a green light allows traffic on the section of Oxford Road near Kinko's to begin its marching song.
Once you sufficiently familiarize yourself with this vehicular choreography, you'll be able to avoid a pas de deux with a passing Passat. --J.D.T.
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