Steve Wallace: New rules of the road you might not be aware of

There are a several traffic situations that are not well known to the general public, but are taken for granted by seasoned commuters. Here are some examples.

Magnetic looping devices are now sensitive to bicycle traffic. Motor vehicle drivers have been aware of the sensors shaped like pavement cutout circles, diamonds and vertical rectangles, usually close to the crosswalk lines, that cause the traffic lights to change in favour of the triggered direction. Some roads do not display the telltale cutouts because they have been inset on recently laid pavement. There are now some vertical lines to the immediate right or left of the looping devices that react to bike traffic. This does away with the cyclist having to move the bike laterally, to imitate some sort of magic-wand trigger for a light change in the favoured direction. If the wheels of the bike are within the two white lines inside the marked area, the traffic light should begin its countdown to a cycle change. (Thanks to Doug for reminding me of this welcomed change for cyclists.)

article continues below

Jill is frustrated by the deactivation of the pedestrian-controlled traffic lights. They are now on a regular cycle change. It seems strange that the back-to-the-future initiative to combat the COVID-19 pandemic has traffic lights impeding the natural flow of just about everyone. She thinks this pandemic is a perfect time to synchronize the traffic lights in her neighborhood. I would go a step further and say it should be done in every part of the Island.

A driver must only signal to leave a traffic roundabout or traffic circle. It is polite to signal an entry, but it is not mandatory. Some drivers see the situation arise where traffic alternates, with those entering given the courtesy of entry by those in the circle in congested conditions. Courtesy can be contagious, but beware the likelihood of a crash when a driver in the circle does not allow another in during congestion. If a crash ensues, the entering driver will likely be deemed at fault.

Trees and shrubs, at residential intersections, often obscure the vision of both drivers and pedestrians. Several readers have complained about this lack of visibility. The higher the hedge, the greater the danger. Every municipality has regulations governing the height and setback of vegetation obstructing vision. The bylaws are in no way uniform, but they do nonetheless exist. Most municipalities have a complaint-driven process. No complaint, no action.

No licence required!

There is a growing trend among those drivers who have had their driving privilege suspended for a determined time, or in rare cases, indefinitely. These road rejects have now discovered a way to travel legally without government intervention. Motorized bikes have become the vehicle of choice for them. There is no insurance required if they are under a specific power rating. Likewise, there is no licence plate or licensing requirement.

The government had planned to rectify the situation, but the initiative was delayed due to other priorities. This is understandable, given the complexity of the situation.

What about electric scooters under the power rating for licensing demanded by government? There are all sorts of weird and wonderful transportation alternatives that have fallen through the cracks of regulatory initiatives. Being passed by a Segway going faster than the normal speed of inner-city traffic is both surprising and puzzling. A motorized skateboard is another oddity. Should it be restricted to a bike lane or allowed on the road?

Good luck getting any insurance settlement if a mishap does occur between a licensed driver and a no-man’s-land commuter. Sounds like job 1 for the next provincial government.

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

Read Related Topics

© Copyright Times Colonist

Most Popular

  • CARRIERS WANTED!

    The Times Colonist is looking for newspaper carriers to work in the Reader Sales and Service Department.


Find out what's happening in your community.