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August 03, 2009

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Brian

I think part of the problem is the 407 is mainly used by "the privileged". People who can afford the crazy tolls, can write it off, or those on a company dime who don't care. These types tend to be more in a hurry than your average driver and are more prone to lane banditry then the rest.

Though I don't disagree with your comments about its bad lane design. I don't know if there are any civil engineers reading this, but I always found traffic is like water flowing in a pipe. Reduce the size of the pipe (number of lanes), or try and redirect the water (lanes end) and the volume of water behind goes up (traffic jam).

As far as my own rant on the 407 goes, I just have to wonder if it would be better used if the tolls were less. Driving to Florida last spring, we actually came to a toll that was 25 cents. And there was even a guy in the booth collecting those quarters from everybody. Given the time of night I'm surprised they made enough to cover his salary.

Greg H

Jim, you couldn't be more right. The worst part is that fixing the problem wouldn't require any new asphalt, just new lane markings. Maybe next time you're on the 407 you should just fall into the lane of "least resistance" and see which lane you end up in. I wouldn't be surprised if you end up all the way left due to lanes being deleted on the right.

Maybe we could encourage good behaviour by having the right lane actually marked wider than a standard lane. Most folks would think "hey, I've got more clearance to the guy next to me!" and out of laziness would then choose the right lane. It would also benefit truckers.

Another idea would be to change the silly chevron sign in the middle of the lanes (tried years ago to prevent tailgating) to insignias of "407" in the right lane so that it's clear that this lane continues and does not exit at some random place.

Brent Morton

Jim, I wish I had a dollar for every time you've mentioned this issue of poor highway design and lane markings over the years. In all that time, has anyone actually responsible for highway design ever responded to you to explain why they do it the way they do?

The only thing I can think of is that they think it's more dangerous to have the left lane merge to the right than it is to have the right lane merge to the left.

Jim

Hi Greg:

Good idea about the wider lane - make it feel like something special.

Painting "Jim Only" on it probably wouldn't work.

BTW, I must confess, I stole that line from my friend Jeff Lorriman. He originated the "Jeff Only" lane and I shamelessly purloined it.

Jim Kenzie

Jim

Hi Brent:

Heck, I wish I had a dollar for every time I've mentioned it!

They could open an account now and I'd be rich in weeks...

I did have a sit-down several years ago with a couple of deputy ministers in the Ontario Government when David Turnbull was the Minister of Transportation. He really did seem to enjoy the portfolio, and having been born in Great Britain (if memory serves) he actually had a clue about driving and traffic management, unlike - obviously - all his predecessors and successors.

I broached the subject to them, and they looked at me like I was from Mars. The concept had obviously never crossed their minds. Their only response was, "Our highways meet all accepted standards."

I suggested that whoever wrote the standards needed to give his head a shake. Why wouldn't highway design at least enable proper driving behaviour, if not downright encourage it?

An independent highway designer subsequently told me there ARE no 'accepted standards' for highway design, at least with respect to lane markings.

If there ARE any civil engineers out there, whether fellow Skule graduates or not, I'd love to hear from them.

Ministers of Transportation, Deputy or otherwise, are likewise encouraged...

Jim Kenzie

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