Drivesmart column: Turning right at a Sechelt four-way-stop

Passing on the right is forbidden in this circumstance but that does not stop many drivers.

By Tim Schewe

This all started with a simple question from my e-mail: “Are right turn lanes allowed at four way stop intersections?” The story evolved as I asked questions to try and understand the situation before answering here. It turns out to involve the intersection of Trail Avenue and Cowrie Street in Sechelt.

The municipality has marked Trail Avenue with turning lanes at Cowrie Street.

“A few years back” the municipality removed the markings for the right turn lane on the north side of the intersection. Apparently this bothered a citizen so much that they repainted the line and arrow themselves under the cover of darkness one night.

The municipality responded by painting them over again with something similar to driveway sealer.

My correspondent was concerned that without the lane markings it became a bit of a free-for-all at the intersection. It was wide enough for two vehicles and no one was about to wait their turn. This was a hazard.

I contacted the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure to ask about the lane marking situation. The response was that the intersection was not their responsibility, but marking turn lanes here was contrary to accepted design practices because of the configuration.

He added that in this situation, there was only one lane there so legally there cannot be two cars side by side at the stop sign.

The engineer is correct, passing on the right is forbidden in this circumstance but that does not stop many drivers. A bulb out would be much more effective as it leaves drivers with no choice. It also increases pedestrian safety by reducing the length of the crosswalk and exposure to traffic.

ICBC’s Crash Map for this intersection shows 12 collisions between 2013 and 2017, three of which resulted in a casualty of some sort.

This leaves my correspondent to wonder about the turn lanes marked on the other side of the intersection, but that’s a story for another day.

Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement. To comment or learn more, please visit DriveSmartBC.ca

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