ROADS REPORT: Expect the unexpected

Roadkill beautifying highways, women winning driving-skill competitions, will wonders never cease?

Blog Entry December 06, 2012

David Matthews has been chronicling the unexpectedly humorous side of transportation news for his Roads Report column since 2000. The stories are all true.

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Lady Honda
Honda has unveiled a new car it says is designed specifically for women.

Just introduced in Japan, the new (awkwardly named) Honda Fit She’s claims it will improve skin quality thanks to improved air filters, prevent wrinkles by way of a special UV-blocking windshield and proclaim your gender to passersby with its pink exterior, steering wheel, dashboard and floor mats.

There’s still no place to secure your purse, but that’s OK because the apostrophe in the “She’s” logo is a heart.

If you’re one of those women’s lib types, Honda has you covered, too. They’re also planning to offer an “eyeliner brown” model.

Waste not, want not
You think your job stinks? Talk to Tyrone Henderson, a seven-year veteran of the Maryland State Highway Administration’s wildlife carcass removal crew.

Each day, Henderson, 40, climbs up into a massive yellow dump truck and heads out to, as he likes to say, “find the stinkies.”

This time of year is the busiest for the crew, with breeding season clouding the judgment and survival instincts of deer. In the fall, it’s not unusual for crews to pick up 18 deer carcasses along roadsides each day.

Years ago, workers would dig a hole along the side of the road and bury the deer on the spot, but that doesn’t work today with increased development and underground utilities.
So the Highway Administration came up with a formula for recycling the deer.

Workers like Henderson bring carcasses back to the crew’s Sykesville, Md., base where a front-end loader scoops them up into one of four wooden bins, each capable of holding up to 40 deer. Horse manure from nearby farms and wood chips are then layered on top of the bodies to quicken decomposition.

Each week the piles are aerated and more manure and wood chips are added. After three months, the piles are moved out into the open air for curing. The finished product is a deep, rich compost that crews use to fertilize highway median flower beds and restore roadside construction areas to a lush green.

Needless to say, even in a time of economic uncertainty, Henderson doesn’t have to worry about job security.

“A lot of guys don’t like it, but it has to be done,” he told The Baltimore Sun. “It doesn’t bother me. I just breathe through my mouth.”

Battle of the sexes
In the tradition of Billie Jean King and Danica Patrick, a German woman is proving that when it comes to parking, women are just as good, if not better, than men.

Overcoming the jokes and stereotypes about female drivers, 45-year-old Sabine Langer beat four men and three other women in the finals of the German Parking Championship. And she didn’t even need a pink car to do it.

The competition involved squeezing a 30-ft limousine into a parking spot, parking a rickety old three-wheeler, mastering the awkward horizontal gear shift of a Citroen 2CV and even parking while blindfolded.

Langer told a local newspaper that the toughest challenge in the competition was parking a tractor-trailer, during which women had to wear platform shoes and men wore high heels.

Hundreds applied to compete in the competition, which featured a grand prize trip to the Monaco Formula 1 Grand Prix.

Langer attributed her win to practice. “I drive a lot with my job and do a lot of parking, but I never would have said I had the right stuff to win a contest like this,” she said. “Mind you the guys were also surprised.”

Actually, the real surprise came later when those guys discovered that Langer was not only a woman, but also a blonde. R&B

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