Random Thoughts While Stuck in Traffic

Traffic Signal OffHave you ever given any thought to how efficiently traffic lights control the flow of vehicles? I found out last Friday afternoon at 5:30 pm as I traveled the 7.6 kilometers between Superior Road in Lantzville and Northwest Bay Road in Nanoose Bay on Highway 19. Total elapsed time: 40 minutes for a trip Google Maps says should take 5 minutes.

Power was off due to storm damage and the 4 way stop procedure was in effect for the dark traffic lights in Nanoose Bay, causing the delay.

I thought that it would be much worse as the tail end of the line was at Ware Road when I drove by it at 4:45. Thank goodness everyone leaving work in Nanaimo didn't all try to go home at the same time!

Given that this particular traffic signal had not been working since the previous day, drivers were for the most part waiting their turn and being patient in the lineup.

The first thought to run through my head was to wonder why the road maintenance contractor did not have flag people at that intersection for the peak traffic volumes created by to and from work trips. It would have made the 40 minute wait a lot shorter!

It might have something to do with trees down everywhere from the storm and flaggers being busy elsewhere already!

When I learned to drive my dad used to tell me that it cost the same amount to drive with the top half of the gas tank as it does with the bottom half. Good advice for surviving being stuck on the road. My situation wasn't bad compared to those who were trapped by fallen trees between Port Alberni and Coombs on Highway 4.

Working in northern BC also taught me to dress appropriately for the weather. Sure, you could stay warm if you were lightly dressed in the cold, but that only counts if the vehicle keeps running and the heater works. Otherwise, you'll be glad to have those emergency supplies and warm clothing.

I'm fortunate enough to own a reliable vehicle that I can afford to keep maintained properly. If you are not as fortunate, deciding not to travel could be a wise decision.

Being stuck in the "wilds" of the Regional District of Nanaimo wasn't a hardship, just an inconvenience. That can change quickly in many other areas of our province, so it is really worth preparing properly and knowing what the roads are like before you go.

Merry Christmas everyone, safe travels!


Submitted by E-Mail

My wife and I were in that same traffic line-up and it took us an hour to drive from Ware Rd to NW bay Rd. I was fuming because I couldn’t understand why that situation was allowed to develop. There was plenty of time for the authorities to put some emergency plan in place and move the traffic through the one intersection without traffic lights. I would hate to think about what would happen if we had a real emergency. I hope someone gets their behind kicked for their poor response.

It may not be the responsibility of the RCMP to solve the problem but surely a phone call to the proper authority would have resulted in some action.


Submitted by E-Mail

Drove the “no lights“ inland highway 4 times and impressed how drivers behaved!! I presume not enough officers to man those intersections..

Submitted by E-Mail

With hydro gone out, if there can be any good thing about it was the cooperation at the intersections with no traffic signals.

Don’t know about other motorists. I never saw any angry drivers about who was first and or I’m before you.

I was with a friend from out of country and at the first light we encountered my friends were very concerned about how and who goes first. When I remarked that it would be by the four way stop rule. They had no idea what I was talking about.

So as to not be distracted, I just commented to just watch and we stopped and then proceeded when it was our turn. We came upon no less then four sets lights.

When we got back home. The first thing that they commented was we have the similar but it doesn’t realy go like that but with some arguments about who goes first, not aways but it does come up. Some times even fights brake out

.I didn’t know what to say and could only smile meekly and commented "life is to short" and did it really take any longer.

Submitted by E-Mail

I was stuck in traffic on Friday at Nanoose both going and returning from Nanaimo; About a 45 minute delay due to the traffic light being out.

Yesterday, as we drove to Port Alberni I commented on the 1 hour wait as Hydro crews cleared lines and road. One of the things that really struck us was the lack of communication by the flaggers.

I believe the same applied to Nanoose traffic light outage. Lack of communication. I.E. are we going to be stuck in this lineup for 1 hour, or 8 hours etc. fill in blanks.

I believe this could be easily addressed with the portable electronic signs or better yet, over the highway info boards like they use for the ferries.

Communicate the reason for delay and expected time waiting for lane to move. This would allow people to shut off engines and de stress. If signs are not available.

Have someone that works for Highways or Flagging company walk up and down traffic line with portable sign and information. Not complicated.


Half tank

Read this and wasn't going to comment as living where I do and having worked in Northern B.C. I agreed with everything you said.

Yesterday we got hit with a snow storm that dropped close to 30cm of snow and it brought up the thought of electric vehicles. At the best of times with the current models available one is travelling on the bottom half of the tank. Throw in winter temperatures, highway closurers and long delays there are many roads in Canada that a massive infrastructure update will have to be completed within 21 years. Personally I just cannot see it happening.

I may purchase a EV for running around town but I definitely would never consider a EV for a trip from Vancouver to Calgary or across Canada in the winter months. And I definitely hope there is no parent out there that is stupid enough to put their family in an electric car and head out. Talk about being unprepared.


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