Q&A - We Need a Left Turn Lane

Q&A ImageI am frustrated !!

Our Mobile Home Park needs a left turn lane off Casorso road in Kelowna BC.

Casorso Road is a reasonable volume road with connections to schools, shopping centers, churches, residences, and other normal destinations.
As it passes by our 130 home park, very dangerous traffic activity occurs at the main entrance/exit.

I have been lobbying Kelowna City Hall traffic engineers to provide a left turn lane in the center of Casorso road, entering our Park. They claim that there is not enough traffic to warrant this request. Therefor refusing to provide a recommendation to Council. 

My wife and I experienced a near death happening when we were walking into the entrance. A car was trying to turn off Casorso, travelling at the usual over the posted speed. We jumped into the ditch and watched at least 5 vehicles play "who cares?" 

This has caused us to try to get a marked left turn lane at the entrance to our Park.  City Hall traffic engineers have said no as they claim we do not have enough traffic to warrant our request. Why?  How many vehicles does it take to kill one person? How much money is a human being worth?

At what point does traffic engineers act on a very necessary action. Before or after the death of a human being?

I was unable to find anything specific to BC on how left turn lane construction is justified.

I did find a semi related document from Transport Canada:

Rural Intersection Safety Handbook

and a number of documents from the US. Since Canada tends to follow the US in lockstep for this, they are likely of some use:

Left Turn Lane Design Factors

Left Turn Lane Installation Guidelines

Development of Left-Turn Lane Warrants for Unsignalized Intersections

You might also be interested in one view on the receiving end of your complaint:

How an Engineer Should Respond to a Neighborhood Speeding Complaint or Stop Sign Request

As I mention in I Want a New Highway Speed Limit Sign in My Neighbourhood, a simple letter or brief phone call asking for a sign is probably not the way to go. A researched justification with examples is less easy to deny.

In reply to by DriveSmartBC

There are other roads with left turn access but for some reason City will not place one at our Park. About the same amount of traffic occurs on Barrera. Simply put...the young fellow and his senior engineer made a mistake as to when to count the traffic ... what day and what hour. Now their senior engineers are using this faulty knowledge to make major decisions. They have flatly said no. I have asked for the traffic count they have and when it was done. No reply

In reply to by DriveSmartBC

Please, a Google Maps link or something to show us where this left turn lane is needed? And why? 

If I was a Traffic Engineer, I would look at the situation this way.

As things are now, a driver turning left from Casorso into the Mobile Home Park entrance has a clear and unobstructed view of any and all vehicles with whom he might be in conflict.  Obviously, he would wait immediately to the right of that solid yellow line, until there was a reasonable and safe gap to allow him to complete the turn.

If a Left Turn Lane was created, nothing would change, from a safety standpoint. The view of the oncoming vehicles wouldn't change. The view of the pedestrians, skateboarders, golf cars, or whatever might be using that sidewalk wouldn't change.

Meanwhile, with the present situation, the driver turning left might feel compelled to approach from the other direction, making a right turn into that entrance instead. Why? Because under Section 156 of the Motor Vehicle Act, if turning left the driver must not unreasonably affect the travel of other vehicles (such as those coming up from behind). Those vehicles don't appear to have sufficient room to pass him on the right without leaving the surfaced portion of the roadway; and that's illegal under Section 158(2)(b).

So if they decided to create a Left Turn Lane, it would become necessary to extend the paved area of roadway onto that gravel shoulder area, encroaching on people's lawns almost, and eliminating their opportunity to park on the street there in front of their homes in order to allow traffic continuing straight, and passing the vehicles in the left turn chute. This road widening would not go over well with those taxpaying citizens, is my guess.

The volume of oncoming traffic at various times of day is irrelevant; the only way to change that would be to install a traffic signal to halt them, so by the time the whole job was done hundreds of thousands of dollars would have been spent to address ... what, exactly? An inconvenience?

At what point does traffic engineers act on a very necessary action. Before or after the death of a human being?

Any sort of collision history, particularly involving injury or death, will make the Traffic Engineers sit up and take notice, in case there's a problem that they can mitigate; even if the problem might be traced to poor driving behaviour. In your general neighbourhood, I note the creation of large Traffic Circles where Casorso is intersected by Benvoulin Road, and Swamp Road, for instance; these things cost money to build (compared to just making intersections with lane lines) due to both materials and the amount of valuable real estate being used, but they do make things much safer, particularly where there is a high volume of potentially conflicting traffic.

I also see that drivers turning left from Barrera Road, into Casorsa, are provided with a Left Turn Lane; but that is surely a much higher traffic volume situation, plus which the necessary road width already exists. Cleverly, they also put in a little Left Turn Lane for teachers and parents turning into the Casorso Elementary School driveway; the road configuration allowed for this easily so it only made sense to do so.

So, I gotta ask again: why do you want this Left Turn Lane for drivers turning into the Mobile Home Park? It won't change anything, from a safety standpoint.

your long discusion must be from Kelowna City Hall engineers. To suggest that my wife and I may have exagerated regarding our near death experience, is offensive. Until you walk in our shoes, you have no idea what it is like to liv here with the traffic problems we handle every day.

In reply to by BarryP (not verified)

Forgive me, I do go on at length sometimes. Brevity aren't us, unfortunately.

your long discusion must be from Kelowna City Hall engineers.

I've never had any sort of contact with the Kelowna City Hall engineers, but over decades of liaison with engineers from other municipalities (with a particular nod to Len Mierau in North Vancouver City) and other Traffic Technologists I've learned a lot about how they think, and apply their tools.

To suggest that my wife and I may have exagerated regarding our near death experience, is offensive.

It's clear from what you've written that you had a close call there, but at no time in this thread have I suggested that you exaggerated anything. I'm sure anyone who has been reading it has gotten a very clear idea of the potentially dangerous situation there.

It's my firm belief that you'll be unsuccessful in pursuing with your demand for a Left Turn Lane, for reasons already discussed. But that doesn't mean there aren't other solutions, and I hope you won't mind if I offer a couple of suggestions.

There must be others in your community who share your concerns about drivers rocketing into the entrance in an unsafe manner; why not lobby the management/owners for a couple of hefty speed bumps immediately adjacent to the sidewalk area there? That alone should make drivers think twice about how quickly they attempt the maneuver. Currently, the way the road surface is aligned with the height of the sidewalk and the main drive, it's smooth sailing - too smooth, too easy to enter there at speed.

But you could also go one more step, and lobby the City to make a left turn from Casorso illegal. Get a petition going, and involve not only your neighbours in the Mobile Home Park, but those across the street who must find this activity disturbing as well, even if it's only from the horn honking when drivers hold up the through traffic, or scattered gravel from when other drivers pass them on the shoulder. Take a petition like that to the City, and it would have some power behind it; plus which, it's a cheap solution needing only a couple of  signs and maybe some lane dividers.

Easy, low cost, and probably popular with most people in the neighbourhood. I think it's worth putting a little time and energy into, given the probable result.


In reply to by DriveSmartBC

That discussion will happen soon, however, I have been discussing things with the engineers first as they have already contacted council as they are obliged to do. I personally know two of the councillors and have discussed things with all of council on other traffic matters. The time to call on them is not quite right yet.

Any chance of an explanation as to how this left turn lane (if created) would make things safer in the situation you describe?

Left turn lanes were originally created (usually at traffic-light controlled intersections) just to stash the vehicles waiting to turn so that they wouldn't block the main traffic flow. Typically, the creation of a left turn chute (as I call them) necessitates the elimination of a few parking spots on the right side of the road, so there will be a cost.

Interestingly. traffic engineers discovered quite serendipitously that creating opposed left-turn chutes reduced left turn collisions by as much as 50% - making it clear that far too many drivers were ready to turn somewhat blindly, against oncoming traffic, in those situations where no left-turn chute existed.

And obviously if there are left turn chutes with green arrows at a major traffic-light controlled intersection, the usual conflicts (oncoming traffic, as well as pedestrians) will have been eliminated by putting in a Left Turn Signal phase.

My wife and I experienced a near death happening when we were walking into the entrance. A car was trying to turn off Casorso, travelling at the usual over the posted speed. We jumped into the ditch and watched at least 5 vehicles play "who cares?"

How does what you've described here fit into this whole picture? Why was the car turning off Casorso travelling so fast, if making a turn? Sorry, but I'm just not understanding this whole situation; please elucidate!

The main entrance to our park does not have a dedicated pedestrian pathway so we have to use the vehicle area as seen on the picture. For some reason drivers are travelling over the posted speed, and tail gating, trying to get the driver of the vehicle ahead of them to drive faster. This is what was happening as we were walking into the park. The first of three cars, travelling north, was being pushed extremely fast...and tried to turn into the park without slowing down, almost running over my wife and I. He succeeded in entering the park but used the whold area to do so.  Cars coming the other direction were also driving very fast and tailgating. Police are saying that tailgating is becoming a very serious driving threat...especially as people are not obeying the posted speed limit.

The reason for the left turn lane is to provide a place for other venicles to pause while traffic and pedestrians and bicycles clear the area without causing the impatient  drivers to pass, either on the left or right as what is happening at the present time.