By Adam Ganucheau/NEMS Daily Journal
EDITOR’S NOTE: Today continues a summer series by Daily Journal reporters called “Teach Me Something” where we show how to do a variety of things and how things work.
By Adam Ganucheau
OXFORD – The Square is Oxford’s city center, where residents and visitors of the city alike come to eat, shop or play every day of the year.
With all the attractions of the Square comes automobile congestion, which has prompted strongly enforced Square parking policies.
The traffic in Oxford has gotten so congested at times that the city’s public works department adopted a “traffic calming policy” earlier this year.
As a resident of Oxford, I often am tasked with driving on the Square behind a visitor to the city.
As the out-of-towner struggles to enter the Square streets in front of me, I can sympathize.
A description of vehicles comes to mind from William Faulkner, a longtime Oxford resident, from his minor novel “Pylon:” “Expensive, complex, delicate, intrinsically useless, created for some obscure psychic need of the species if not the race, from the virgin resources of a continent, to be the individual muscles, bones and flesh of a new and legless kind.”
Faulkner must have written these words while watching people attempt to maneuver their vehicles on the Square.
If you have never had the pleasure of visiting the Square, let me try to explain why it could be confusing. The main road on the Square is actually a circle, which always has the right-of-way. Outside of the circular, main road is a square road lined with parking spots. There are four main entrances to the main circular road of the Square, and two more side entrances to the main road.
There are 10 pedestrian crosswalks just on the actual Square block, and more than that on the streets going away from the Square. Pedestrians always have the right of way (and they know it, too). There are no stop signs anywhere on the Square – just yield signs, which inevitably freak people out.
I have lived in Oxford for three years. Understanding how to drive on the Square is really something you just need to do yourself. However, let me try to give some tips on how to maneuver the Square if you have never done it before.
• First and foremost, carefully check each crosswalk for pedestrians. As I mentioned above, they assume you will stop for them, and they often fail to even look before stepping into the white paint.
• If you are trying to find a parking spot on the Square, you might have some trouble. There are only about 100 parking spots on the block, but the city has done a great job of providing off-Square parking. If you want to try to find a spot on the Square, take the secondary side roads lined with parking spots, not the main circular road.
• If you are simply taking in the sights, smells and sounds of the Square, continue to watch the road as you are driving. Roll down the windows, drive at a slow pace and feel free to take in the beauty of the buildings, but watch the road. I promise if you hit a building, pedestrian or another vehicle, you likely won’t enjoy one of the most enjoyable places in Mississippi.
• Remember that the Square has a three-hour parking limit Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
• Take a look at a map before you attempt to drive the Square for the first time. If you have a specific destination, it makes your life easier to know how to get there. If you get confused, drive around the Square a couple times. You’ll eventually get the hang of it.
The Square has much to offer to residents and visitors alike. Whether you are visiting the Square for the first time or making your everyday trip, be sure to follow the rules of the road and enjoy yourself.