They Only Look Nice


I live in North Florida, and for whatever reason, we seem to have an overabundance of canopy roads.  You know the ones I am talking about, the ones where some genius thought it was a great idea to have trees spreading their branches over the road, creating a “canopy” effect.  At best, they look nice.

At their worst, however, they are really dangerous.

The canopy effect is basically created when the branches grow over the road, and those branches contain leaves.  Pretty simple.  And also quite hazardous.  While the shade created by the leaves lowers the ambient air temperature in the summer, canopy roads also help creates some treacherous road conditions.  Because they keep out direct sunlight, the leaves also serve as somewhat of an umbrella in the rain, so when there is a light shower, the water mixes with the oil from passing cars just enough to create an extremely slick driving terrain.  I speak from experience on just exactly how easy it is to become a victim of the conditions when, going less than 30 mph, my car went for a quick spin.  Lucky for me there were no other cars around at the time.

A few years back, during one of our rather heavy afternoon/evening summer thunderstorms, I saw on the news that a tree branch had fallen on a car that was driving on one of our many canopy roads, and a young girl (I want to say 10-12 years old) was killed.

Of course, it is not just during rainy conditions where these roads can cause trouble.  While it is fact that we just finished up 4 or 5 days in a row with rain, yesterday afternoon was sunny and bright.  The roads, even the canopy ones, were pretty much all dry by early afternoon, but that did not necessarily mean that drivers were safe.  About a mile from my house, the driver of a car learned that canopy roads are dangerous pretty much any time of the day.

An older woman was driving her car, and most likely driving the speed limit, which is 35 mph where she was driving.  Out of nowhere (technically, from a tree overhanging the road), she had an unwelcome passenger.  This lady’s trip ended abruptly when she was joined in the driver’s seat by what appears to be about a 6-8 foot tree branch.  It went straight through the window in front of her, and fortunately she only suffered minor injuries to her hand (I say minor because it was not me and because looking at the picture, it could have been way worse).  TreeinCar-1

I don’t get the allure of the canopy road.  Every time my parents visit, they comment on how “beautiful” they are.  I guess they look nice enough, but does how they look outweigh safety concerns?  I don’t think so.  And I am not against them because I hate trees (I don’t).  I am against them because I do not want to be driving down the road one day and have a branch in my car with me before I know it.  If our local government is intent on having them around here, which they are, maybe they should consider some sort of standardized distance from the road the trunk of a tree can be.  This might alleviate some of the safety concerns while providing some of the aesthetic appeal that so many around here apparently love.

For me, the nice look of the picture of the top of this post (and yes, that picture is one on of our local canopy roads) is nowhere near the potential danger shown in the second picture on this post, and picture one can turn into picture two in a heartbeat.




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