ROADS REPORT: Too much of a good thing

If fixing potholes, enjoying the sun or splashing around in a pool car are wrong, who wants to be right?

September 10, 2013

Water ride
German police usually don’t take notice of four men cruising through town in a convertible on a warm Sunday afternoon.


However, when the vehicle those men are driving has been converted into a mobile swimming pool, well, that’s another story.


In June, a motorcycle cop on patrol in the small eastern town of Eibenstock first became suspicious of the men’s ride when he noticed water slosh out as it drove around a curve.
On closer inspection, the officer saw that the men, including the driver, were splashing around in a hollowed-out passenger cabin that had been sealed, lined and filled with more than 500 gal of water. The vehicle was even decorated like a tiki oasis, with a wooden deck around the cabin, thatch trim and plastic floral decorations throughout.


When the officer doubled back to get a better look, the men tried to flee, but between the weight of the water and only one functioning gear, the convertible topped out at just 16 mph. The men eventually pulled off into a parking lot and tried to run off into a nearby river.  


Police eventually had to call for backup, not to catch the passengers, but to manage the crowd of spectators gathering around the convertible.


Soaking up the sun
There are easier ways to catch some rays behind the wheel than driving a pool car.


In fact, a new study from Stony Brook University in New York warns that UVA rays from the sun—the ones that cause aging, eye damage and skin cancer—are able to penetrate through the windows of your vehicle.


As a result, a large percentage of our cumulative sun exposure happens on the road. Yet, most people mistakenly believe that they are protected from the sun if their windows are rolled up.


Researchers recommend wearing sunscreen, long sleeves and protective eyewear whenever you drive, even though they know you won’t.   


A kick in the asphalt
By day, Ron Chane is the busy owner of a screen-printing business in Jackson, Miss. But by night, he transforms into a street vigilante, fixing potholes in city streets using stolen city asphalt.


Armed with a shovel, a push broom and a pickle bucket, Chane and his girlfriend would periodically “borrow” from what they call “Mt. St. Asphalt,” a large mound of city asphalt visible from the highway that has been sitting unused long enough to have plants growing out of it.


The pair then hit the streets, spending several nights this summer fixing the city’s potholes. They got so good, they were soon able to fill a pothole in as little as 20 seconds: He poured and she smoothed.


As a finishing touch, Chane would inset a small plant in the center of the pothole patch, then spray paint a circle around the repair with an arrow pointing to it next to the words “Citizen Fixed.”


Chane told ABC News: ”It’s sort of like Robin Hood. Once we saw that people were appreciating what we did, we went out again and made a goal of fixing 100 potholes. We’ve actually filled 101 potholes, so our mission has been completed.”


As a business owner and taxpayer, Chane felt justified in his street-smoothing crusade. However, the city’s not so sure. The new mayor of Jackson, Chokwe Lumumba, released a statement expressing support for people making improvements to the community, but adding, “we do not accept any use of the city’s resources without going through the proper legal channels.”


Chane’s actions are currently under investigation by the local authorities, though no charges have been filed. Chane said that he’s been approached by the Mississippi DOT, and that while they won’t condone his actions, they “were on the understanding side.” R&B

David Matthews

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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