Right Turn on Red at a 5 Way Intersection

If you are stopped on Bastion Street in Nanaimo and the light is red, are you allowed to turn right onto Wallace Street (if it is safe)? Or only allowed to turn right onto Fraser Street?

Intersection

Looking at the diagram of the intersection I personally would not make a right turn onto Wallace. There are situation where it maybe legal but personally I would not take the chance.

Answer

There are two sections of the Motor Vehicle Act that cover this situation:

Red light

129 (3) Despite subsection (1), and except when a right turn permitted by this subsection is prohibited by a sign at an intersection, the driver of a vehicle facing the red light, and which in obedience to it is stopped as closely as practicable to a marked crosswalk on the near side of the intersection, or if there is no marked crosswalk, as closely as practicable to the intersection, may cause the vehicle to make a right turn, but the driver must yield the right of way to all pedestrians and vehicles lawfully proceeding as directed by the signal at the intersection.

This permits you to make the right turn at the intersection when the light is red if you satisfy all the conditions.

Turning at intersections

165 (1) If the driver of a vehicle intends to turn it to the right at an intersection, the driver must cause it to approach the intersection and then make the turn as close as practicable to the right hand curb or edge of the roadway.

This simply tells you that if you are turning right, you need to approach and turn as closely as is practical to the curb.

Regardless of whether you are turning onto Wallace or Fraser, you are turning right. Proceeding without turning would mean continuing onto Fitzwilliam.

It appears to me that you can satisfy the requirements of these two sections for a turn to either street, specifically because of the word practicable.

That being said, it is probably going to require more than the usual amount of caution when you turn onto Wallace Street. You are facing the possibility of 3 lanes of cross traffic conflict instead of the usual one lane.

Is the intersection design a good one? Probably not. Should right turns on red be permitted onto either Wallace or Fraser from Bastian? Again, probably not.

ICBC lists 20 reported collisions in this intersection from 2011 to 2015, 8 of them resulting in casualties.

My best guess ...

... is that a right on a red (or a left on a red into a one-way) would have to take place without driving half way (or more) through the intersection.

So I would only make the turn into Fraser Street.

Turns on red are dependent on the driver being able to recognize all potential traffic conflicts, and that 5-Way adds too much complexity, I would think.

Section 129 would apply.

(3) Despite subsection (1), and except when a right turn permitted by this subsection is prohibited by a sign at an intersection, the driver of a vehicle facing the red light, and which in obedience to it is stopped as closely as practicable to a marked crosswalk on the near side of the intersection, or if there is no marked crosswalk, as closely as practicable to the intersection, may cause the vehicle to make a right turn, but the driver must yield the right of way to all pedestrians and vehicles lawfully proceeding as directed by the signal at the intersection.

OK so now I'm replying to myself, go figure ...

If you take the time to look at this intersection, and the controls employed - which essentially add up to some left turn lanes (and some left turn traffic signals) it's very lightly governed, given the probable amount of traffic including pedestrians.

Of course, if that's working for everybody - and only five collisions per year with 40% of them involving injury so it seems to be - then it's arguably a successful intersection without need for further restriction or control given the volume of interaction and potential conflict.

But I can't help but contrast this with another 5-Way, this one in North Vancouver where Jones, West 23rd, and Larson come together adjacent to Carson Graham Secondary School. For years, it functioned as a 5-Way Stop; the uncertainty about right of way - for both vehicles and pedestrians - seeming to make everybody extra cautious and cooperative.

But perhaps inevitably, when traffic volumes increased, the traffic engineers found it necessary to install traffic lights. They have something like eighteen phases to them depending on demand, and multitudinous turn restrictions. And meanwhile, they could only accommodate four crosswalks, instead of five. I guess this is progress.

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