Putting Out the Vibe Random observations from my day-to-day life

May 17, 2016

Is it legal to wait in the intersection at a green light?

Filed under: Colorado,Maps,Random Observations — Tags: — Matthew @ 4:19 pm

Drivers in Colorado are notoriously bad. Not FIB bad but still poor nonetheless. Although this is my opinion, it’s also supported by un-citable anecdotes from our midwestern friends who are CO transplants. You may be thinking to yourself, “self: how is this possible in a state with winter weather and roads that rise to 14,130 feet?” My theories:

  1. The Colorado Front Range doesn’t receive perpetual winters the way that other states do. Large snow storms often melt within 24 hours because of fluctuating winter temperatures which frequently exceed 50 degrees. Sure, CO drivers experience winter conditions when driving to the mountains but these are elective winter conditions (I can choose to drive into winter conditions for a six hour ski trip and then return to 50 degrees in Denver). Contrast this with the conditions in which I took my drivers test – a blizzard with single digit temperatures near Milwaukee – and it becomes pretty clear that people from states like WI grow up practicing winter driving.
  2. CO has become such a transient state that we now have a melting pot of all different kinds of bad drivers (California, Texas, New York, etc.). We commonly discuss that no one is actually from Colorado and meeting “natives” is like seeing a white rhino.

With all of this in mind, I’ve noticed an interesting trend in Colorado:  When turning left at a green light, many drivers don’t enter the intersection and instead wait behind the white stop line. The result at congested intersections is that once the light turns red, no one gets to turn. Rather, if cars wait past the stop line they can safely turn once the light turns yellow. Have you ever waited for several cycles of a light behind a (California license plate) driver who won’t edge their car into the center of the intersection? Growing up I would have found this ridiculous but in Colorado, it seems to be frequent (especially when I’m rushing home from work to catch tip off a badger basketball game). This is caused by each state defining their own traffic laws and as a result, many of Colorado’s transplant residents don’t know how to turn left. Interestingly, based on the CO Traffic Code MTC 604, it is legal in Colorado to wait in an intersection (as long as you’re not hindering traffic flow) and then proceed to turn once oncoming traffic has stopped. I set out to understand which states are ruining this interpretation of the law and my results are shown below.

Legal to wait in center of intersection? States
Legal to wait in center of intersection 28
Legal – but only for one vehicle at a time to be in center of intersection 1
Illegal – must wait behind stop line 11
? (unable to find reference to law) 10

Left Turn Map


State Legality?  
Alabama Legal to wait in center of intersection source
Alaska Legal to wait in center of intersection source
Arizona Legal to wait in center of intersection source
Arkansas Illegal – must wait behind stop line source
California Illegal – must wait behind stop line source
Colorado Legal to wait in center of intersection source
Connecticut Illegal – must wait behind stop line source
Delaware Legal to wait in center of intersection source
Florida Legal to wait in center of intersection source
Georgia Illegal – must wait behind stop line source
Hawaii Legal to wait in center of intersection source
Idaho Illegal – must wait behind stop line source
Illinois Legal to wait in center of intersection source
Indiana Legal – but only for one vehicle at a time to be in center of intersection source
Iowa Legal to wait in center of intersection source
Kansas Legal to wait in center of intersection source
Kentucky Legal to wait in center of intersection source
Louisiana Legal to wait in center of intersection source
Maine Legal to wait in center of intersection source
Maryland Legal to wait in center of intersection source
Massachusetts Illegal – must wait behind stop line source
Michigan Legal to wait in center of intersection source
Minnesota Illegal – must wait behind stop line source
Mississippi Legal to wait in center of intersection source
Missouri Legal to wait in center of intersection source
Montana Legal to wait in center of intersection source
Nebraska ?  
Nevada Legal to wait in center of intersection source
New Hampshire ?  
New Jersey ?  
New Mexico Illegal – must wait behind stop line source
New York Legal to wait in center of intersection source
North Carolina Legal to wait in center of intersection source
North Dakota Legal to wait in center of intersection source
Ohio Illegal – must wait behind stop line source
Oklahoma Illegal – must wait behind stop line source
Oregon Illegal – must wait behind stop line source
Pennsylvania ?  
Rhode Island ?  
South Carolina Legal to wait in center of intersection source
South Dakota ?  
Tennessee Legal to wait in center of intersection source
Texas Legal to wait in center of intersection source
Utah Legal to wait in center of intersection source
Vermont ?  
Virginia ?  
Washington Legal to wait in center of intersection source
West Virginia ?  
Wisconsin Legal to wait in center of intersection source
Wyoming ?  

A few notes:

  • I’ll caution you that I performed this research on a state-by-state basis and many states blend safety recommendations into their traffic codes (laws). Therefore, it’s very possible that I have mistakes above so please let me know if anything needs updating.
  • Although I thoroughly searched, some states (Wyoming, West Virginia, Virginia, Vermont, South Dakota, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New Hampshire, and Nebraska) don’t seem to take a stand on the legality of turning left at all and I couldn’t find citable sources (please let me know if you find differently for your state)
  • Some areas have city or county ordinances which contradict the state law relating to waiting in the center of an intersection. Austin, Texas has been promoting a well-publicized “Don’t Block the Box” campaign which, as far as I can tell, contradicts this article from the Texas State Troopers.
  • Many states across the country are implementing flashing yellow turn arrows instead of solid green lights because research shows that drivers will use more caution when turning and may be less likely to mistakenly assume that they have the right-of way over oncoming traffic.

October 12, 2012

Where the Beer Flows like Wine: breakdown by state

I have a lot of pride in my Wisconsin roots – especially when it comes to beer. Although, the quality of WI beer (and beer drinkers) is hard to rival, since moving to Colorado, I’ve felt conflicted whenever I hear Coloradans bragging about the number of breweries in this state. Then, a couple of weeks ago I was discussing this point with some coworkers – one from CA and one from WA – who both thought their states had “a lot” of breweries too. When it comes to beer, this isn’t my first rodeo (or my first map) so I feel pretty qualified to get to the bottom of this issue…
Number of Breweries by State

Number of Breweries by State
From brewersassocation.org as of 10/8/12
California 512
Colorado 259
Washington 214
Texas 171
Oregon 168
New York 164
Pennsylvania 160
Michigan 150
Illinois 138
Wisconsin 119
North Carolina 105
Florida 104
Ohio 93
Virginia 89
Massachusetts 83
Minnesota 81
Missouri 73
Arizona 68
Indiana 66
Georgia 59
New Jersey 54
Tennessee 54
Iowa 49
Maryland 47
Montana 47
Maine 45
Idaho 38
Connecticut 37
New Mexico 35
Nevada 33
Nebraska 31
New Hampshire 30
Vermont 30
Alaska 29
South Carolina 29
Utah 27
Louisiana 25
Alabama 23
Kansas 21
Wyoming 20
Delaware 19
Kentucky 18
Hawaii 16
Oklahoma 16
South Dakota 15
Arkansas 13
District of Columbia 13
Rhode Island 10
West Virginia 10
North Dakota 8
Mississippi 7
Total US Breweries: 3,725

A table of all of this data is displayed to the right.
I acknowledge this map has limitations. For example:

  • Texas is ginormous – so 171 breweries really isn’t that impressive.  Actually, looking at breweries per capita by state may be more indicative of quality beer culture.  The Brewers Association does just that and found Vermont to be number one.  Wisconsin was an unfortunate number nine in 2011.
  • This data is from the Brewers Association’s Find US Brewery page and was retrieved on 10/8/12.  While I believe this list to be pretty comprehensive,
    1. Breweries throughout the US are constantly changing from year to year
    2. The list includes both “breweries in planning” and chains, such as BJ’s (counting multiple BJ’s locations in one state seems like cheating)
  • The Beer Mapping Project takes breweries in each state a step further and plots actual location. It’s very interesting to look at density of breweries in certain regions of the country. For example, while the above map shows that Illinois has 138 breweries, almost all of these are located in the Chicago area.

Regardless of Wisconsin’s rank, either by total breweries or breweries per capita, there is one thing that Wisconsin has that no other state does:
Spotted Cow Logo

August 24, 2010

Girl Scout Cookie Geography: A brownie civil war!

If you’re like me, you grew up in the wonderful and comforting land of Caramel DeLites, Peanut Butter Sandwiches, Shortbreads, and Peanut Butter Patties.  However, when I attended the University of Minnesota for my freshman year of college, my Girl Scout Cookie world came crashing down around me.  When trying to purchase Caramel DeLites from some Twin Cities Brownie saleswomen, I was shocked to see that they didn’t sell my favorite cookie.  Upon closer inspection I realized that they did sell what seemed to me to be a generic knock of off, entitled “Samoas.”  It turns out Samoas and Caramel DeLites are the exact same cookie but are merely the different names that the two licensed bakers of Girl Scout Cookies, ABC Bakers and Little Brownie Bakers, have for them.  It seems Little Brownie Bakers has been making Girl Scout Cookies since the early 1980s and ABC Bakers has been making them since 1939.  I suppose that in  forcing the two companies to compete for the nation’s girl scout cookie sales, the Girl Scouts of America has actually managed keep the price of cookies down by forcing economic competition.

However, this system also undoubtedly causes strife for Girl Scout Cookie lovers across the nation.  This is because there is actually very little consistency throughout states or even counties in some instances, whether Little Brownie Bakers or ABC Bakers have been selected as the baker of choice (it is up to the Girl Scout leadership in that region of the country).  So if you find yourself in Buffalo County in Western Wisconsin, be careful how your order your Caramelly Coconut treat.  Much like families were torn apart during the Civil War, it seems Buffalo County has it own Girl Scout struggles between the north and south of the county.  Also, what’s up with Osceola County in northwest Iowa being the only county in the whole state that purchased from Little Brownie Bakers because they are actually a part of Southwest Minnesota’s Girl Scout Leadership?  Either way, that is whack and they must really be in love with Samoas (and not Caramel DeLites).  Thin Mints may be Thin Mints across the board, but here is a summary of the confusing cookie names.

ABC Bakers Little Brownie Bakers
Caramel DeLites Samoas
Peanut Butter Sandwiches Do-Si-Dos
Shortbreads Trefoils
Peanut Butter Patties Tagalongs

So I did some research – a lot of it actually – and created the following map of how Girl Scout Cookies break down throughout the Midwest.  I highlighted the WI, MN, and UP counties in white but then grew a little lazy as I researched the baker of choice throughout the rest of the map.  If you zoom in you can still make out the other county lines though.

Girl Scout Cookie Map

Girl Scout Cookie Map

View Minnesota and Wisconsin Map Only





April 15, 2009

UW-Madison Socio-Academic Campus Zones

After ballroom dance class today, I was on my way back to the Engineering campus and ran into my roommate, Lee, who asked, “what are you doing over here?” – a very valid question actually, since I haven’t been required to go to the east side of campus for a legitimate, academic reason since sophomore year. He, although an engineer himself, was actually on his way back from Art History. The truth is, the non-engineering areas of campus do have a completely different disposition and when I venture to the east for either choir or ballroom dance, it’s like visiting an unexplored, foreign world. Without further adieu, I am proud to present my most recent result of procrastinating both work and school – The UW-Madison Socio-Academic Map: My take on how our campus actually breaks down.

Figure 1 - UW-Madison Socio Academic Map

Figure 1 - UW-Madison Socio-Academic Map

Nerd-Land:  Home of the College of Engineering, Computer Sciences, and Wendt Library, Nerd-Land is the dwelling place of some of the most socially inept students on campus.  In traversing the halls of Engineering, one might witness 10 people surrounding a single game of chess, an intense conversation comparing notes on respective W.O.W. (World of Warcraft) characters, or even over hear numerous jokes about μ (“mu” – the coefficient of both static and kinetic friction), all in only a few minutes.  Spend too much time in Nerd-Land and your standards for the opposite sex will drop dramatically (until an eye opening journey to the east brings you back to your senses)

Nerd-Limbo:  I believe students who spend much of their day in the orange zone to be in Nerd-Limbo – still interested in a practical, technical education but capable of holding a conversation about something other than what they got on yesterday’s Thermo Exam.  The hard sciences (not meaning difficult, but the opposite of soft), such as Physics, Chemistry, Biochem, Genetics, and also Math and Stats* find their home in Nerd-Limbo.  People who are regulars in this area of campus may even have interests that lie outside of academics.
*Grainger Hall (School of Business) appears in purple above because it is considered an overlap of the orange and blue zones.

Liberal Arts-Ville:  Venture too far to the east and your existing schemas of what is a normal classroom environment will be greatly challenged.  Students studying Social Sciences, Music, Dance, Languages, and also all of the students on College Life who represent the entire demographic of our student body so well, attend class here (as needed).  College Library also falls within this zone.  Expected attire in Liberal Arts-Ville requires that all students “try” before class (sweat pants strongly discouraged).  As a result, this is where many of the campus’ best looking people, who seem to only emerge nocturnally at the bars on Friday and Saturday, spend their weekdays.
The location of the Psychology building seems to be an anomaly, surrounded by both Nerd-Limbo and Nerd-Land.

Places I only go to drink beer:  A couple times a week I migrate from my familiar world to another familiar world (think Oregon Trail, except no one has ever died of dysentery out at the bars).  Unfortunately, since I live on Lathrop St. (lower left corner of the above map), traveling from my classes and/or house requires navigating through unfamiliar territory, which is commonly avoided via taking cabs.

Coastie-Island:  Also known as “frat row,” Langdon Street is as unfamiliar to me as the internet is to my Grandma.  Hundreds of girls wearing gaucho pants, ugg boots, north faces, and huge sunglasses (regardless of the weather or current sun intensity) and guys with fohawks, popped collars, and probably tribal armband tattoos dwell in this region.§♦
§Coastie Island slightly overlaps with the Places I only go to drink beer only because of the less than ideal location of the State Sider Apartments.
The recently constructed Lucky Apartments, located in between Liberal Arts-Ville and Places I only go to drink beer is an unfortunate contradiction of my Socio-Academic Theory.

Disclaimer:  This post is merely satire.  There are clearly exceptions to the immense stereotypes that I cast here. I realize that very hard working and motivated people exist in all academic areas of campus.





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