Steve Wallace: How long can you drive in bus-bike lanes?

Here are more questions and comments from readers: Can you drive in the bus-bike dedicated traffic lane?

Several people have asked for clarification. Yes, you can travel in these dedicated lanes, but only within the single block of travel necessary to turn right. The compatibility of buses and bikes in the same lane is another topic altogether. The safety in these shared lanes is almost totally dependent on the excellent safety record and keen observations of bus drivers.

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Joan wanted to know if it was legal to drive into the bus lane and stop when an emergency responder with siren and lights engaged is approaching. Yes, it is mandatory to go to the closest or safest side of the road, even if it is a bus-bike dedicated lane.

Al has congratulated the City of Colwood for the use of playground speed zones replacing school zones. He thinks this is a good idea, because it ends the guessing game about which days are statutory school days. Since most schools are community assets, and occupied well outside normal school hours, it is logical to have playground zones in effect every day of the year, from sunrise to sundown. The practice of placing the end-of-zone sign on the opposite side of the road, facing away from traffic exiting the zone, still bothers him. You are not alone, Al!

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Heidi would like to see all bike riders use a bell or some sort of warning horn to alert others of their presence in road traffic and on trails, so well developed in most metropolitan areas.

This is a good idea. Some jurisdictions make it mandatory, and others leave it up to the common sense of the rider. Sadly, common sense is all too uncommon in today’s traffic system. Pedestrians would be grateful for an advance warning of two-wheel travellers. They deserve no less.

Norm is recommending a practical road test be mandatory for all drivers at five-year intervals.

This has been a recurring request by others. The fact of some people having to wait for up to two to three months for a road test will likely see such a request sit on the bureaucratic shelf for the foreseeable future. There have been several recent initiatives by ICBC to reduce these wait times. It might be more effective to have mandatory driver testing for those drivers with several blameable crashes and/or multiple traffic offences. There is nothing like the obligation of having to take the toughest driving test in North America to strike fear in the hearts of most driver’s-licence holders.

V.S. had a great suggestion. He wants the traffic engineers to make a small change to the timing of the pedestrian walk signals. Instead of allowing pedestrians to walk immediately, upon the traffic light turning green, he wants a few seconds of delay, to allow right turners to clear the intersection. This would eliminate the clogging of the right-turn lane and relieve vehicle congestion at appropriately designed intersections.

Lexi asked if it is legal to parallel park on the opposite side of the road facing oncoming traffic. It is not legal, but seldom enforced by many municipalities. It is easy to park in such a fashion, but much more difficult to leave this kind of space safely.

Ted lamented the polite behaviour of Victoria drivers. He is vexed by their tendency to give up their right-of-way to another driver. He wants a comprehensive column explaining the practical application of the right-of-way. Well Ted, stay tuned and you will get your wish.

Steve Wallace is the owner of Wallace Driving School on Vancouver Island. He is a former vice-president of the Driving Schools Association of the Americas, a registered B.C. teacher and a University of Manitoba graduate.

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