Douglas McIntire

Douglas McIntire

I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with driving around our fair town. Throughout the years though, I’ve seen certain habits and trends that persist — some of which must really confound transplants to the area.

The first thing I noticed after coming back to work in Brunswick was McKeen Street. The straight parallel to Pleasant Street has remained so overlooked and under appreciated over the years. I still see people rush down Church Road to reach the daily snarl that is Pleasant Street while completely overlooking McKeen, with it’s identical speed limit and greater likelihood of survival of both crashing as well as road rage incidents.

“But I have to get to Route 1,” you moan. Well — no, unless you are heading to Bath and points north, you don’t. Most people use the bypass to get to Cook’s Corner — a move that takes just as much time as a leisure trip up Bath Road.

When I was young, we took the bypass, but only because it was like a teenage Autobahn where my friend Rob once hit 120 in his old Camaro before we spun off onto the already precarious offramp at Cook’s Corner.

But I digress — back to McKeen Street. When I was a new driver, heading up McKeen toward Church Road, I had to hold back my youthful exuberance until the moment of relief somewhere around Navy housing when I could throttle up to a blistering 35 mph.

At some point, that slight bump in the speed limit was moved up to just past HBS Elementary and the town rejoiced — well, sort of. What I’ve found is long time locals have yet to get the memo the speed limit was changed and refuse to climb above 25 until right about St. Charles Church.

Jumping back to McKeen Street’s more delinquent cousin, Pleasant Street — it’s really always been anything but pleasant. Every weekday, just around 4 p.m., we would hear the scanner blow up in the newsroom for what we called “bumper cars” time.

Tight lanes, 35 mph speed limit and the temptation to hit that limit between the frequent lights makes Pleasant Street as close to a white knuckle drive as Brunswick can produce. Add into that mix, the number of turning vehicles in a condensed area and people who, for whatever reason, can’t figure out where they’re going until they get to the bypass split.

Which leads me to people heading toward that bypass making left hand turns into Dunkin Donuts. Know this — nobody likes you. The people who just figured out they were taking the bypass and switched lanes only to come to a dead stop behind you? They don’t like you. The people driving toward 295 don’t like you darting in front of them, and, for reasons unknown even to them, your cousin Willie in Chicago has a deep-seated loathing at the mere mention of your name.

While I like a cup of coffee and a bacon, egg and cheese croissant as much as the next guy, please find time to fetch yours sometime other than rush hour. As for Dunks, I realize you didn’t like the traffic pattern at the corner of Church and Pleasant Street, but this is not an acceptable answer.

Other etiquette to keep in mind is the unwritten Maine Street rule. If you pull into one of those diagonal parking spaces because you just have to have a spot in front of Little Dog, you have just consigned yourself to the mercy of the public. You can try and back out, but you got yourself in that spot, brother, you can find a way out.

This is especially true around 4 p.m. — forget it, it’s not our responsibility to let you slowly back out of a space you should have known better than to get yourself into. I’ve been parking in the public lot or along the mall for ages because I’ve seen people run out of gas trying to back out from in front of Senter’s. One poor motorist from Massachusetts had just finished dinner at Bombay Mahal, only to sit in his car long enough to get hungry again and tuck into Henry and Marty’s for a second meal.

“That’s how they get ya,” he muttered, waving a clenched fist at the BDA, “they suck you into parking and they won’t let you go!”

That’s why people on the mall always look happy. They are able to enjoy their Danny Dogs safe in the knowledge they’re free to go whenever they want. The added bonus is the rest of Maine Street is a short walk away and in the summer, their cars are shaded and blissfully temperate when they get back in. There’s nothing like trying to back out of a parking spot with your minivan set on broil.

Brunswick is a friendly place but those streets can turn mean on a dime, my friends. Just print this out and keep it in your visor for a handy-dandy reminder of Brunswick rules of the road. Better yet, buy a few extra copies and send them to your friends and relatives from away and we’ll all be happier on the road.

Douglas McIntire is an educator and writer in the Midcoast and really, truly loves the BDA, so don’t hate me Deb King! Feel free to enjoy a frothy Dunkaccino and email your complaints to [email protected]


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