Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Kenzie: Right turn ban wrong move

Wheels Section - Toronto Star
June 12, 2009

Mayor David Miller and several Toronto councillors voted last month in favour of banning right turns on red lights at selected intersections as part of a one-year pilot project. Then they voted to remove driving lanes from various major roads in favour of bicycle lanes.
These politicians maintain that they are not "anti-car."
People, you really ought to go with that explanation, because the only available alternative explanation is way less flattering.
Woody Allen's character in Annie Hall maintained that he wouldn't want to live in a city (Los Angeles) whose only contribution to culture was the ability to turn right on a red light. But even that dedicated Manhattanite recognized it as a positive contribution.
The only other jurisdiction in North America that banned rights on reds was Quebec. The supposed reason was to protect pedestrians, which is the proffered reason in Toronto, too. But Quebec studied the situation carefully, and realized what any sane person would realize: there are no safety gains to be had for pedestrians at all.
So Quebec rescinded the ban.
Sadly, the Quebec legislature also included "enabling" legislation which allowed individual municipalities to opt out if they chose to go back to the Dark Ages.
Make no mistake, Mayor Miller and councillors who think we live in Bicycle Fantasy Land (are you riding your bike up the Avenue Rd. hill in February?): the mass transit system of choice in Toronto and all major metropolitan areas in North America is the private automobile.
And all mass transit systems have one primary function: to move people and goods as efficiently and safely as possible.
In recent years, "as greenly as possible" has been added to mix.
Banning right turns on red lights fails spectacularly on every count.
Efficient? How efficient is it to sit at any intersection at 2 a.m. waiting to turn right until the bleedin' light changes? That's just stupid.
Safe? How safe is it to only allow cars to turn right during the only time pedestrians are allowed to cross that street? The cars have been waiting impatiently for their chance to turn. When that light goes green, they're gone!

If cars could use the gaps in the crossing traffic while waiting on the red to make their turn, then everyone – driver and pedestrian – gets home sooner, safer.
Green? Car engines (except for hybrids) are at their least efficient and most polluting when the car is idling. Infinite fuel consumption and infinite emissions per kilometre – you're dividing by zero.
What could possibly be worse for the environment than a car or truck, idling at a red light, waiting to turn right?
What is wrong with these people?
I can't expect these 18-speed New Democrats to do anything intelligent about traffic in our city, such as flyovers at major intersections, roundabouts everywhere there is room to install them or pedestrian tunnels to totally separate the walkers from the drivers.
That would require genuine understanding of the problems at hand, and of solutions that have been proven to really work in the real world in which we really live.
But banning right turns on red lights? These people are out of their freakin' minds.

~~Editor's Note~~
Missing information from the above article.
There has never been any mention anywhere that the City of Toronto is planning an all-out ban on 'right on red' turns.
The original conversation on this topic occurred in early May this year.
The city merely stated that it was looking at increasing the present number of intersections in Toronto that would have this restriction placed on them.
The vast majority of intersections that already have no right turn on red light signs at them have safety issues which is why you can't do it.
Intersections with restricted visibility from the left, multiple left turns from the opposing direction and multi-phase intersections are just a few of the reasons they are banned.

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