Odds & Ends From the Inbox

InboxI've been trolling through the DriveSmartBC inbox for inspiration this morning. There are a lot of odds & ends there that deserve to be mentioned. Thanks to all for these questions and suggestions.

Maureen asks about dimming high beam headlights when you are driving on a divided highway and the center barrier blocks your headlight beams from oncoming drivers. The regulations require that you dim your headlights whenever you are within 150 meters of another vehicle until you have passed or overtaken it to prevent the beam from striking or reflecting into the eye of another driver. If another vehicle is within that radius, dim your headlights.

Rosa is curious about tire blowouts and their frequency as she is not aware of any way to prevent them. Improper inflation, curb or pothole damage is likely the most common cause of failure for passenger vehicle tires. A good tire pressure gauge is worth having, even if your vehicle is equipped with a tire pressure management system (TPMS). Check regularly to insure that your tire pressure is set to that shown on the tire placard. If you hit a pavement defect and are concerned, have your tire examined by a professional at a tire center.

Deliane would like pedestrians reminded about how dangerous it is to wear dark clothing when walking at night in bad weather. She also wants to know about crossing mid-block, not in a crosswalk. If the municipality does not prohibit it in a bylaw and your yield to vehicles, jaywalking is not illegal.

Alan wants to be reminded why photo radar was taken off of B.C. roads. There is enough material to write a book on it, but I'd say that it was one of the planks in the Liberal Party platform that was acted on when Gordon Campbell was elected premier in 2001. This hot potato continues to be tossed back and forth today but like any bitter medicine, the patient needs to decide that taking it outweighs the disease. Apparently we've not gotten there yet.

Syd would like drivers to give their horn a tap when they are backing out of their space in parking lots. This will warn pedestrians who are not watching for lit backup lights as they approach your vehicle. ICBC says Only use the horn when it gives a useful signal to other drivers and helps prevent a crash.

Persephone is honked at when she slows down in construction zones that are posted with regulatory speed signs but no construction is taking place. Following the rules doesn't always mean that others appreciate your efforts. The signs are in place for a reason as there are hazards present in construction zones even when workers have gone home for the day.

Sandy stops for the stop signs at E&N railway crossings and has twice been passed by drivers who overtook him without stopping themselves. Even though the chance of meeting a train or other maintenance of way equipment is slim, failing to stop properly is still illegal.

Finally, Irene was surprised to find that ICBC is not interested in hearing about speeders that she wanted to report. Her local police did not appear to be responding to her husband's requests for more enforcement and she was trying to find another way to have drivers slow down. ICBC's function is to insure drivers while the police and RoadSafetyBC deal with unsafe drivers. By the way, RoadSafetyBC is only interested in your unsafe driver report if the driver is medically unfit. They will direct you back to the police for anything else.



An, apparently misunderstood traffic rule.

Always the best way to discuss a topic is to first define what you are talking about.

So, what is "Jaywalking" ?

If, I'm standing at an intersection controlled by traffic lights and I cross the roadways, inside the crosswalk, against the light.  Is that Jaywalking ?

Many do call that Jaywalking, but NO, it is NOT.  That is a pedestrian disobeying a traffic control device.

So that's what is NOT Jaywalking, what is ?

Jaywalking is crossing a street not at an intersection or crosswalk within one block of a traffic control device. 

The Vancouver City Street and Traffic Bylaw 2849 defines it as :

"Jaywalk" means to cross a roadway, not being a lane, at any place which is not within a crosswalk and which is less than one block from an intersection at which traffic control signals are in operation."

The confusion lies in the fact that this offense isn't really addressed by the Motor Vehicle Act of BC.  Some city bylaws address it many do not.

When you think of it, it makes sense.  Your are standing in downtown, anyplace at an intersection, the location is controlled by a three phase traffic light, perhaps even a set of pedestrian lights.  There is a cross walk marked on the road surface.  You are impatient, you are late, so instead of DISOBEYING the red light/ped light, you sidestep to the area just beyond the marked cross walk and cross the street.  You didn't disobey the red light.

If you did that in the City of Vancouver, you have run afoul of Section 12(2) of Bylaw 2849, the Street and Traffic Bylaw.

Then you have streets in some locations that have no traffic lights or crosswalks for blocks and blocks.  As long as you yield to vehicles, you can cross mid block.  That act is NOT Jaywalking it is just crossing the street.  So the statement "in some locations Jaywalking is legal" is absurd, in that if what you are doing doesn't fall into the definition of Jaywalking you are NOT Jaywalking.

Oh, that the scenario of sidestepping the marked cross walk to avoid the red traffic light.  That perfectly legal in Kelowna, for example.

Perhaps related.

It's my belief that those flashing green pedestrian controlled traffic signals we use are unique to BC; other jurisdictions manage things without them just fine.

It's also my belief that they were invented around 1960, and were meant to be used only mid-block, in locations where pedestrians might be tempted to jaywalk to save themselves having to amble over to the nearest intersection in order to get themselves some right of way. And for this application, they work well enough; and once the pedestrians are out of the way, there's no reason for a driver to remain staring at the red light, they can continue having stopped and yielded. Sort of a win-win for everybody.

But many traffic engineers don't seem to understand that a fundamental goal should be to accommodate all road users as well as possible, in a way that provides safety - but also facilitates traffic flow.

So all too often they will place these things at intersections. And that's ridiculous. Frequently, pedestrians in their ignorance of the rules (or disregard for them) walking adjacently to the 'main road' will continue to do so even if they're facing a red light - which is illegal (unless there's a 'Walk' signal facing them, and that is never the situation here).

Meanwhile, drivers arriving on the cross street, seeing the situation where the main road traffic is stopped, will often gun it through the stop sign without any pretense of stopping, to take advantage of the temporary lack of perceived conflict. All of this is just dangerous, and often shows a fundamental disregard for the law.

It's high time that they quit employing these archaic devices, never mind creating new ones. But I don't suppose it's going to ever happen; a simple pedestrian controlled light, unsynchronized to any traffic flow, is a cheap option. So they cheerfully ignore the constant disruption and danger created (never mind all the unneccessary pollution from idling) and disregard the hazards created. In that, they have a lot in common with the cops, who you will never see monitoring these intersections, nevermind ticketing pedestrians and motorists alike who disregard the fundamental rules.

Lights not at intersections

You are correct, once you've stopped and you've yielded to whatever you can proceed even if the light is still red.  There are a few at railway crossings as well.

The key is the light is "not at an intersection", no that it is a ped controlled signal.

If you dare to obey the law and drive through the red light having stopped and yielded be prepared to have to defend yourself in court, as most non big city cops don't know the law that well.

Sec 129 (5) of the MVA.

Scratching my head.


You are correct, once you've stopped and you've yielded to whatever you can proceed even if the light is still red.  There are a few at railway crossings as well.

Yeah I know I'm correct, and that the key point is that there be no intersection where the pedestrian controlled traffic light is erected mid-block like it's supposed to be.

But I'm racking my brain trying to figure out where there's a railway crossing that meets the criteria. I'm pretty sure I've seen uncontrolled railway crossings, as well as railway crossings that only have a Stop sign on each side. These may or may not have an accompanying flashing red light. And of course there are railway crossings that have flashing red lights and bells and barriers 'n everything.

Then in Vancouver/Burnaby there are railway tracks that parallel mid-block pedestrian/elephant crosswalks on streets such as Rupert and Boundary, where you have a 'regular' pedestrian/bicyclist controlled traffic light adjacent to a full barrier/flashing light train crossing. 

Solve this mystery please, and point out where they use a solid red light to stop traffic at a railway crossing, that one can proceed past and over the tracks having stopped (and yielded to trains, presumably).

Solid red at a railway crossing

I couldn't find the one I was thinking of - there was a video a while back that was titled something along the way of people can't bother staying stopped at a red light..

Here's one (bad because tiny) example:

There is a solid red in-front of what used to be rail-way crossing (Arbutus corridor). It is placed several meters ahead of the "main intersection" in-front of the rail-crossing, under the rail-crossing lights. There were a few set up like that in Vancouver along that corridor and others - but I couldn't find them anymore.

But I'm guessing that the same rule would apply to them: Stop, see if theres no train, proceed to the intersection's stop line - if there is space to fit your car in with-out it ending up on the tracks.

Arbutus corridor.

Yup, you'll find something similar at Broadway, etc. The idea was that you stopped for the first light, at the first stop line (or maybe the amber was too late, so you stopped at the intersection with the tracks behind you). But it was OK to proceed to the next one, if you didn't stop on or block the track.

Currently, that whole corridor is undergoing a renaissance, so to speak, as the city of Vancouver now has right-of-way. And a large bill.

So they're going through the transition (physically removing the tracks was the first order of business, I watched part of the process from a coffee shop) and going well so far; removing irrelevant, inactive crossing devices is probably low on the agenda.

But I don't think those things in your Google image on West 16th were solid red lights - I'm certain that they flashed wig-wag style, with accompanying bells, back in the day when that was an active railroad line. But the first and second stopline arrangement mirrors that on Broadway and Arbutus.

Hey, did you know that there used to be a railway connection across False Creek, between the Burrard bridge and the Granville bridge? It would pivot on a central axis to allow tall boats through. Not that this has anything to do with red lights, really. I think it was in use until around 1980.

Broadway & Arbutus

I was thinking, and took a look for this intersection, here.

Sure enough, we see the (very faded) initial stop line before where the tracks ran, and the overhead traffic signal wrapped in plastic, no doubt due to come down.

And on Broadway, I don't recall whether they had additional flashing lights when a train was coming, anybody else remember?

Train Crossing

There was one on Clement Ave in Kelowna.  A train crossing the roadway activated a three phase traffic light (no arms, as the train crossed at about a 30 degree angle, making the area very wide).

I believe it now has been decommisioned.

Thanks. I'm guessing it's this one.

Took a look on Giggle Earth, and I think I've found the new and improved version(?).

I dare say that at one time - perhaps Clement was a narrower road with less traffic volume - it was a creative solution for the traffic engineers. Arguably, a couple of Stop signs would have achieved the same thing (with or without flashing red lights on top) but a full on traffic light would surely capture drivers' attention much better.


Speaking of capturing attention with an unusual traffic device, I'm reminded of the time when I first drove in France, around 1984. Drove off the Hovercraft, and was shortly heading south on the Autoroute from Calais. Several hundred meters ahead, standing on the shoulder, was this real tall fella in an orange jumpsuit, moving his stiff right arm up and down to bring driver's attention to the pending construction zone and slow them down. It was only when you got closer that you realized he was a manikin!

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