I have had occasion to drive on the 407 a few times in the last few weeks.
It sure makes commuting a lot faster - if you can afford it.
Judging from the prevalence of BMWs, Mercedes-Benzes, Lexi and Audis, these folks can.
And it's faster except if (e.g.) you were trying to go eastbound last Friday evening between Goreway Drive and Highway 27. There was a huge crash in the left lanes - I couldn't see how many lanes were blocked, but there were police cars, tow trucks, and the inevitable fire engines, all over the place.
Traffic was backed up for two or three interchanges.
I hope the drivers had packed picnic lunches, because they weren't going to be home in time for dinner.
Not tonight's dinner, anyway.
I called it in (hands-free, of course...) to 680, so maybe some of you got warned soon enough.
I also wonder if there's a refund on the toll in cases like this? I mean, the reason you pay is to get there sooner. If the highway can't hold up its end of the bargain...
The other thing I noted on my recent forays on the Yuppie Highway is that if lane discipline is a problem on all our freeways (and it is; we've got a major brouhaha going on in the print edition of Wheels these days; check out my response to the feedback from a recent column on this topic in this weekend's issue), then it's beyond hopeless on the 407.
Some roads seem to develop a certain 'localized culture'. I remember back before Daytime Running Lights were introduced; on some highways, almost everyone turned their headlights on during the day. You all should all the time anyway, but this did seem to happen on particularly dangerous stretches of highway, and I don't know how it evolved.
Sort of like a 'flash mob', except those things just LOOK random; they aren't.
Anyway, the 'localized culture' on the 407 seems to be that the driving lane is the second one from the left.
I know, I know - this is stupid, inconsiderate and unsafe, not to mention contrary to at least two subsections of Ontario's Highway Traffic Act.
But there it is.
Minivans with canoes on the roof.
Pick-ups with trailers tacked on the back.
Cars and, disproportionately, SUVs, all lined up, second lane from the median barrier, like they were slot cars.
They trundle along, oblivious to everything going on around them, as the aforementioned BMWs, Mercedes-Benzes, Lexi and Audis (and me) rocket past on both sides at once.
(Oh yeah - did I mention the average speed on the 407 seems to be about a buck thirty-five?)
Why do all these people drive in this lane?
I have to assume that part of it - probably a big part of it - is my old bugaboo; completely idiotic lane markings.
It looks as if the road designers outfitted helicopters with thousands of paint-ball pellets filled with white paint, had them fly over the freshly-poured concrete, and said, "Let 'em go!"
Wherever they landed, that's where the lane markings were.
Geez - it'd be funny if it weren't so tragically stupid.
It's six lanes wide here, three lanes wide there, not a hint of rhyme or reason.
Lanes added, lanes dropped, sometimes two at a time.
Some on-ramps become lanes, others don't (hint - they NEVER should; they should ALWAYS merge into the driving lane, the REAL driving lane, i.e. the right lane...).
Right lanes disappearing, either just ending, or turning into off-ramps, again, sometimes two lanes at a time.
I can only conclude that regular 407 users have determined that the one lane which does seem to keep on keeping on is that second lane from the median.
So they park themselves there, and damned be the hindmost.
Or the rightmost.
The upside for me is that there are sometimes two or even three Jim-Only lanes to choose from.
Gotta keep your head up though (which of course you always should) or BAM! - off you go to Barrie.
I wish I had had time to investigate that crash. I would bet the farm it had something to do with those stupid lane markings.
They almost always do.
Can't anyone from the Ministry of Transportation tell me why our highway lane markings are so badly done?
Unless my helicopter scenario is correct, SOMEBODY tells the line painters to do it wrong.
I would just like to know who that is.
Hmm-mm - you don't suppose he operates the tow truck company...