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Let's embrace courtesy on the roads


  |  Posted: Saturday, Jun 28, 2014 06:00 am

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Parking in the St. Albert downtown core is an easy way to trigger a debate, and now with the city’s angle parking trial period, it seems easier than ever.

The Gazette has featured several letters to the editor and plenty of online comments for or against angle parking on Perron Street despite the fact this trial has opened 29 new spots on a street notorious for its lack of available parking. It’s changed Perron Street from a four-lane to a two lane, though.

Critics who’ve spoken against angle parking claim that it’s too difficult to back out of the angle parking spots, as visibility is non-existent, meaning backing up “blind,” and the apparent unwillingness of passing traffic to accommodate other motorists, likely because Perron tends to be used as a short-cut to St. Albert Trail or Sir Winston Churchill Avenue. Hence, critics claim angle-parking has got to go.

A similar problem has cropped up around the city during the necessary yet frustrating season known in Alberta as “construction.”

A good example is at the intersection of Boudreau Road and Bellerose Drive. Substantial construction work has been performed across Boudreau near the RCMP detachment, and traffic has been reduced to one lane both ways with steel plates in the pavement for weeks.

The westbound left-hand lane was recently the open lane, with the right-hand lane barricaded and signed to warn motorists to merge into the adjacent lane. The problem was, very few of the motorists in the open lane were “allowing” other motorists to merge.

Traffic experts say the most efficient way to funnel traffic from two lanes into one is with “zipper” merging. The idea is to flood both lanes with vehicles and for those at the front of the line to take turns proceeding, one from the left then one from the right, etc.

This wasn’t occurring last week in St. Albert. Motorists in the left-hand lane apparently wouldn’t tolerate merging, so traffic in the closed right-hand lane was piling up, affecting the Sturgeon Road intersection to the east.

Both of these issues have a common cause – and a common solution. Motorists don’t own the road. They share it with other motorists.

Angle parking is found in almost every other Alberta community, big and small. It functions safely and efficiently when motorists back out slowly and carefully and approaching motorists show courtesy, stopping for a few seconds to let their neighbour out.

The same applies in construction zones. Motorists should be courteous and allow other motorists to merge safely, which costs, at most, a few seconds of a person’s day.

Being courteous is a cheap, effective way to allow traffic to flow more quickly and safely across the city. Let’s embrace it.


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