Steve Wallace: Race to the next light usually in vain

John is retired from Telus, which is noted for being one of the best safety conscious companies in our province, and possibly the country. Their attention to safe driving is outstanding. They do most of their training in-house and have been doing so for many decades.

He has always noticed aggressive drivers. They rush from intersection to intersection governed by a red traffic light, only to stop at another red traffic light, never realizing the speed sequence timing employed by traffic engineers is meant to accommodate drivers travelling at a legal maximum speed.

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They do not get held up by cross-traffic at those sequenced intersections. The more they exceed the speed limit or travel well below that same speed limit, the more frustrated they become. John would arrive at his out-of-town hotel room, close to his work site, calm and collected, instead of being frustrated and stressed. John’s “see you at the next traffic light” mantra, explained it all.

Julie reminded me of the sensitive high-crash areas in our cities and towns throughout our province. They are identified on the ICBC website. Many drivers use this information to choose a route which is less likely to result in a crash. She has witnessed several crashes at specific intersections. One of them had the recently mentioned “elephant feet” crossing, which allows cyclists to ride in the crosswalk.

The police attended a crash at the location where this kind of crossing was in play, and she had a conversation with an officer. Safe travel within the pedestrian marked crosswalk with elephant feet is afforded to cyclists and pedestrians equally. The constable had not yet been involved with a crash of this type. Julie says he asked her if the cyclists must stay on the elephant feet markings. She says she replied to the contrary, they get the use of the whole crosswalk.

Now before readers become overly critical of the police, lets’ all take a collective reset. B.C has a reputation of bringing in new legislation governing transportation without sufficient notification of the driving public, let alone the general public. What are transportation authorities, provincial, municipal and federal thinking? Not much it appears! (We had rebellions in our colonies of Lower and Upper Canada in 1837 and 1838, in what is now Quebec and Ontario because of communication voids). Would it not be logical for those responsible for passing new legislation and regulation to inform people charged with the responsibility of enforcing those very laws?

Julie has another suggestion for authorities. This one concerns the Tillicum and Highway 1 intersection in Victoria. The green light for cyclists to proceed straight through is accompanied by a red light for parallel motor vehicle traffic. Julie sees motor vehicle drivers make a right turn on red without first doing a shoulder check to acknowledge cyclists. She wants a timing separation of these two modes of travel. No right-on-red should apply to the car drivers as a solution to predictable conflict.

Jill has an interesting beef with the transportation authority in the City of Victoria. Now that the bike lanes are firmly entrenched on Vancouver Street, why are so many cyclists using Cook Street? The answer is simple: They can legally do so.

Despite the considerable expense and inconvenience to local motor vehicle traffic, there seems to be no obvious signs directing cyclists on Quadra and Cook Streets to the much safer Vancouver Street corridor. This soft suggestion could alleviate the mounting traffic congestion, sometimes several short blocks, on the above mentioned two streets. Combine this traffic congestion situation with the most aggressive construction season in memory, and we have a sense of dissatisfaction and frustration by both travel groups, namely cyclist and drivers.

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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