ROADS REPORT

Newest extreme sport: bus riding
Be careful to avoid the naked hijackers and monkey waste, and don’t get caught spitting

Article June 16, 2004
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If you’re going on vacation in the UK this summer and plan to take advantage of public transportation, bring a raincoat.
Bus riders in Edinburgh, Scotland, have taken to spitting on their drivers in such large numbers that the drivers are now being equipped with DNA kits.

Police say they get around one report each week of a driver being spat on by a passenger, though they believe the actual number is twice as high because many incidents go unreported.

More than 1,800 employees on the city’s two main bus lines will be given the “spit kits,” which include latex gloves, sterile swabs to collect the spitter’s DNA and an evidence collection bag. Passengers who are identified as spitters through the DNA testing will face assault charges.

The move follows the introduction of similar DNA kits on the London Underground, ScotRail trains and some buses in Glasgow.

Roadside attraction

Several hundred gallons of used cooking oil spilled all over a road near Boca Raton, Fla., last month when a truck driver forgot to close the valve of the oil container.

The local sheriff said the oil made the roads extremely slippery and the whole area smell like french fries.

It took seven hours, a load of sand, some cement and even kitty litter to clean the quarter-mile section of road.

Not to be outdone, though, during the same week a trucker in Milwaukee accidentally spilled a load of aged monkey droppings and algae that closed two highways for four hours.

The waste had been removed from a moat at the Milwaukee County Zoo and aged for two days to destroy any viruses. Unfortunately the latch broke on the truck’s tank, which held the waste, and the aromatic sludge spilled across the junction of two busy highways.

Anarchy in the UK

A parking ticket left the singer in a local British rock band wondering if he had been rocking out a little too hard recently.

After leaving his band’s practice space in April, he found yellow no-parking lines painted underneath his car and a ticket on the windshield. The singer figured he must have somehow missed the newly painted lines when he parked earlier that day because he had been using the same spot for two years.

He was prepared to pay the fine until factory workers across the street told him that they saw contractors push his car out of the way, paint the lines, and then push his car back on top of them. Then shortly after, a traffic officer came upon the car and ticketed it for illegal parking.

The singer then complained to the city council and had his fine revoked. He is now seeking compensation for alleged damages to his car and an apology from the council.

Tips from the road

As smart as it may seem at the time, it’s usually not a good idea to flee from the scene of an accident by hijacking the vehicle you just ran into. Particularly when the other vehicle is a school bus. And you’re naked.

But that’s just what a Georgia man did recently after crashing his car near Atlanta. Just as police arrived on the scene, the man commandeered the bus, which hadn’t picked up any children yet, and led the officers on a slow-speed chase into oncoming traffic.

Eventually the naked hijacker was stopped when a concrete pumper truck and a tractor trailer blocked the bus’s path. He was arrested and taken to a hospital for treatment and a mental evaluation. Charges are pending and more could be added because the man spat at emergency medical technicians.

Police were not immediately able to identify the naked man, but have reason to believe he may be from Edinburgh.

From the hands of babes

While the grown-ups in government can’t seem to figure out what to do about soaring gas prices, some high school kids in Eau Claire, Wis., have built a car that gets 1,610 mpg.

A team of electronics students at Eau Claire North High School won first place last month at the 12th annual High Mileage Vehicle Challenge. The team used parts from a forklift, snow blower, printer and motorcycle to create the 240-lb aluminum hybrid car.

In response, a representative from Hummer said, “Yeah, but everyone knows that suburban families need off-road capability. That thing probably can’t even drive over a boulder.”

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