The zipper merge is controversial to some people. It shouldn't be because they are already doing it in Sioux Falls.

Whenever the topic of the zipper merge comes up I will always hear from numerous people who refuse to give any thought to the idea of allowing someone to merge in front of them at the beginning of a construction zone. "They should have moved over sooner!" is usually the reply. Or "They saw the same sign I did, why didn't they prepare?" as if changing lanes early is akin to saving money for retirement.

Right now southbound I-229 starting at Western Avenue turns into a parking lot rather quickly. Lane closures are forcing the massive amounts of traffic normally carried in two to three lanes by only one. My wife was sitting in that parking lot on Tuesday morning when a little red car was granted (or took) a spot in the line not far from the end of the right lane. My daughter snapped a pic and sent it to me. The center lane was empty most of the way between Minnesota and Western.

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Zipper merging, which has been explained by numerous YouTube videos, uses all of the available lanes until the lane actually ends, and then all of the cars take turns going into the single lane. This is a more efficient way of getting all of the traffic through, primarily because instead of one long line of traffic that goes back for, let's say, a mile, you would only have the backup for around half of that mile because you are using all the available space. But people in South Dakota, and Sioux Falls especially, hate this concept. The sentiment is that anyone who waits that long to merge is a rude line cutter and must not be allowed to change lanes in front of you.

Right now in Rapid City, they are trying to get people to do the zipper merge as well. City officials there are trying to tell people that if you drive in a kind manner, this would work really well. But since most people drive as if every other car on the roads are trespassing on their personal driving property, it doesn't.

Did you know that you are already zipper merging and it works great! If you get on I-29 at either 12th Street or Madison Street with lots of cars in the two lanes that turn left to the on-ramp, you are zipper merging every time. In fact, the lanes are designed that way. The on-ramp has two lanes divided by dotted white lines until it disappears and you have to merge. The curve of the intersection helps facilitate this but it is in fact a zipper merge.

So you're already doing the zipper merge, why not do it at construction zones? Drive to get along with everyone else, don't be competitive. It's still fine to curse and honk at people who are dangerous and distracted behind the wheel, but drive nicely and let your neighbors in during the rush hour.

But don't stop to let someone out of a parking lot or street on 41st Street. That's just stupid.

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