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SHARE THE CARIBOO ROAD: No right turn on red?!

Please stop fully and look both ways before turning right at a red light
Bert Groenenberg is an avid cyclist who enjoys riding his bike for freedom and fitness. Groenenberg appreciated the bicycle-themed sculpture in downtown Rossland on a road trip. (Photo submitted)

This column is an imaginary correspondence between Patty the Pedestrian and Maddie the Motorist, written by Bert Groenenberg.

Dear Pattie:

Last week, you wrote about vehicle right turns being about 20 times more dangerous than left turns. But now a friend of mine in the United States tells me there are some places where they are not allowed to turn right at a red light.

What is so unsafe about that?

Signed: Maddie the Motorist

Dear Maddie:

Until the 1970s, most states in the USA did not allow right on red. Their federal government, believing it would save fuel, forced all states to allow it. But cities do disallow it; New York City and downtown Ann Arbor, Michigan are two of them. (Neither does Montreal Island)

What is unsafe about a right turn on a red light? It is about collisions with pedestrians and cyclists, not other vehicles. Picture this: “The driver inches into the crosswalk, watching the oncoming traffic to his left and waiting for a gap to appear. He finally spots one and accelerates into the turn, without realizing that a pedestrian on his right has just stepped off the curb, beckoned by a green “Walk” sign. Tragedy follows.” (Zipper, David. It’s time to ban “right-on-red.” Fast Company. 2023.06.14)

The result? By 1982 in Ohio, collisions increased 57 per cent for pedestrians and 80 per cent for cyclists. In Wisconsin, the numbers were 107 per cent and 72 per cent, respectively. (Ling, Micah. With Pedestrian and Cyclist Deaths on the Rise, It’s Time to Ban Right on Red. Bicycling. 2023.11.08)

In Williams Lake, many drivers treat right on red as a yield sign. They do not even come to a full stop. One bad spot is right from Oliver onto 3rd Avenue North.

Maddy, please stop fully and look both ways before turning right at a red light!

Signed; Paddy the Pedestrian

Bert Groenenberg has been walking, cycling, and driving in Williams Lake for over 30 years.