Exchange stop signs for yield signs?

Burn down the stop signs! My goodness, one week readers rant about people rolling through stop signs giving the jitters to others passing through the intersection and the next others suggest we get rid of most of them.

Bob Wilson, of Vancouver, writes: “I’m surprised that you would ask, “Why do drivers keep rollin’ round the corner? The reason is obvious: Gross stop-sign overkill. There are so many needless stop signs here that they have simply become just decorations on every street corner.”

Wilson alleges that the authorities began an “infill” program in the late 1990s in the mistaken belief that more stop signs would make our streets safer.

“It was obvious from the start when the stop sign infill program started, that eventually they would be so commonplace that they would be ignored.”

He may have an ally in Terry Rodgers: “While one cannot condone ignoring stop signs I would like to make a case for replacing some with yield signs . . . where it is not essential for safety reasons to bring traffic to a complete halt. This would smooth traffic flow and reduce gas consumption.

“I live in West Van and occasionally take people to and from the airport and there are 49 sets of traffic lights in between. Assuming that half are against me, I have to stop and then accelerate to whatever speed is appropriate 49 times each way.”

Geoff Eldred, in Delta, made the same point and suggested, “I think we should junk at least 75 per cent of all stop signs in favour of yield signs.”

David Westcott thinks part of the problem is with the layout of stop signs. “In the U.K. drivers are required to stop behind a white line that is positioned so that they can see both ways from this point. Here the stop line is set too far back.

“If the driver is law-abiding this means that he more often than not has to stop twice. Here we are looking to be green and energy conserving. We could save a huge amount in carbon emissions just by changing their archaic laws and having one stop line where the driver could see both ways.”

Phil Gustin throws this idea into the mix: “We all have stories of poor driving that we see in this city. Why doesn’t the Lower Mainland have a force of dedicated traffic cops? I suspect that if an effort was made to raise money on the backs of poor driving habits it would be a substantial revenue stream. Let TransLink run traffic enforcement and let them keep the revenue or a portion of it.”

I don’t think Mr. Gustin’s tongue was in his cheek at the time of writing.

A POLICE OFFICER’S VIEW

Constable Sandra Glendinning has served with the Vancouver Police Department since 1995 and is assigned currently to the Dog Squad.

Glendinning writes a blog about her daily encounters on the streets called Behind the Blue Line. Today, we introduce a column in which she will offer her thoughts about traffic and driving matters.

I really do think I’m a decent driver.

Not for the fact that I’ve been driving for a long time but because much of that driving is done at high speed, through heavy traffic, with lights flashing and siren blasting, around those who do not know how to yield to an emergency vehicle and all the while processing information about the emergency call I have been dispatched to; all performed without losing my cool and causing or being involved in an accident and arriving at my destination able to deal with whatever situation the 911 call centre has seen fit to throw my way.

For all the “crazy” driving at work, I’m relatively serene on my days off when behind the wheel.

I obey the “yield to car on right” at four-way stops, I merge well, I slow down to 30 km/h in school zones and I wave a “thank you” when another driver goes out of their way to make driving a more pleasant experience.

But there is one intersection only a few blocks away from my home that severely threatens the serenity of my off-duty driving. The east/west street has the right of way. The north/south street has stop signs where it intersects the east/west street, meaning everyone approaching the intersection while driving north or south has to stop.

The southbound drivers have got this figured out, likely because the area on that side of the intersection is home to only 20 houses. The northbound drivers, as far as I’m concerned, need a swift kick in the butt. Almost no northbound drivers stop until they are well into the intersection and signalling their westbound turn.

It is so bad that now, when approaching the intersection on the east/west right-of-way, I slow to crawl and creep through to avoid a collision. With clockwork regularity, I have to make an abrupt stop to allow a person through who has not stopped for their stop sign. It’s infuriating.

Citizens in the area have complained to the city (I don’t live in Vancouver, so don’t go giving them a hard time), asking for stepped-up police enforcement, and some requesting that the intersection be turned into a four-way-stop. While we have seen a few police cruisers monitoring the intersection on an intermittent basis, residents have been told a four-way-stop is not practical as our intersection is too close to another intersection.

Road safety is paramount.

Stop at your stop signs. Yield to on-coming traffic. Be courteous as it will likely make someone’s day — probably your own.

Vancouver police constable Sandra Glendinning blogs at behindtheblueline.ca. Her opinions aren’t necessarily those of the city’s police department or board. You can e-mail Sandra at [email protected]a.

Photograph by: John Lucas