Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Why I Don't Always Stop at the Stop Lines

A while ago, someone asked me, "Huy, why don't you stop on the stop line when making left turns?" And, I had one simple explanation: look at what happens. But, since you have no idea why, I'll tell you in today's kick-ass guide to making left turns in Saskatoon.

Making a left turn can always be a bitch, especially during rush hour. You have to wait for the oncoming traffic, and risk getting hit when making your left turn on an amber light. But during rush hour, you often see one of these:


When you see one of those, it makes some people want to say, "Chika, chika, yeah!" Why? It's a form of relief, and people seem to believe that it moves traffic faster, which it does. But, what happens when it's not rush hour? Well, usually, you only see this:


You'd really like to see that green left arrow again, don't you? I mean, that green light is boring, and you have to wait for the stupid oncoming traffic. Don't you wish you could just skip all that and just make that left turn without being in an accident, even though it's not rush hour? Well, it's possible, and I'm going to show you how!

So... when you travel around Saskatoon, you might notice that Saskatoon has traffic signals that look like this:


Well, there is a way to make the traffic signal display a flashing green arrow that points to the left. It's all based on this "square" on the road that's usually found in the left-turning bay of intersections with a cement median, or in the left lane of any intersection that has one of those signals. Here's what it looks like... I've marked with with an "X:"


On most left-turn bays, you will see that "square," which detects the metal on cars. In the picture, it's pretty obvious where it was. And when a car stops on that area, the traffic signal displays a flashing green arrow, allowing those making left turns to make left turns without having to yield to oncoming traffic. Again, look at the picture, and you can see it within the my black lines/drawing. Now, you're not always going to see it when you're driving, but it's there. If you don't see it, all you have to do this: imagine that there are three "invisible cars" in front of you. Once you've done that, make yourself the "forth," or even "fifth" person in line. Please note that this concept only works about 75% of the time. So, you're better off looking for that metal detector!

Please note that this doesn't work for all intersections as some intersections in Saskatoon that have those types of signals operate differently. Here are those exceptions:
  • Southbound/northbound traffic at Confederation Drive and 22nd Street West. The lights appear when there are cars, period.
  • Southbound/northbound traffic at Idylwyld Drive North/South and 22nd Street West/East. The lights appear when there are cars, period.
  • Eastbound/westbound traffic at Idylwyld Drive North and 33rd Street West/East. The lights appear when there are cars, period.
  • 20th Street West/East at Idylwyld Drive South. The lights appear when there are cars, period.
  • Southbound/northbound traffic at Broadway Avenue and 8th Street East. The lights appear when there are cars, period.
  • Southbound/northbound traffic along Lorne Avenue at 8th Street East. The lights appear when there are cars, period.
  • Southbound/northbound traffic along Central Avenue at Attridge Drive. The lights appear when there are cars, period.
Oh yeah, here's a major exception:


So there you go... I hope you see why I don't always stop at the stop lines when making left turns!

And for those of you who just thought of me a moron, or those who have seen me do this and have given me dirty looks: try it for yourself! Furthermore, if you are heading eastbound or westbound on Attridge Drive/Preston Avenue (near Preston Crossing) North through the overpass in an attempt to enter the freeway (Circle Drive), there is a way you can avoid waiting for oncoming traffic.

When you are making a left turn from the overpass to enter Circle Drive, you will see a traffic signal set-up that looks like this:


In the picture above, the overhead signal stays green at all times to instruct traffic to proceed through the area. As for the bottom traffic signal, the light will always stay green. However, when enough traffic activates a left-turn arrow, the left-turn arrow will begin to flash as traffic on the other side of the street (oncoming traffic) will be required to come to a stop for your benefit.

Below, you will find a diagram/picture of where you can stop in the area to activate a left-turn arrow...


In the picture above, you will find a panel where electrical wiring can be found underneath, which is embedded into the concrete median. This area has been circled above. If you would like to activate the left-turn arrow at the expense of oncoming traffic, you may do so by stopping ahead of the panel, which is approximately the spot where the fourth (4th) car would stop if the left-turn lane is full of vehicles. This area has been noted above in the area that has been "squared."

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