Traffic circles for the highway? Bring ‘em on

As for the flow through Duncan — let’s not go there.

Traffic circles for the highway? Bring ‘em on

Next time you’re in traffic on the Trans-Canada Highway (TCH) here on the Island, trying to negotiate all the left lane blockers, tailgaters, lane changers and general mayhem, take a close look at the lanes going in the opposite direction. What do you see?

Depending on the timing you will either see two to three kilometers of empty, traffic-free, two lane highway or maybe one to 1.5 kilometers of closely clustered traffic, in a struggle to get ahead of each other like a horde of angry bees, which is then followed by yet another two to three kilometers of emptiness.

Basically this translates to the fact that only a fraction, optimistically half, of the available highway is being used or occupied at any one time.

This, my friends, is the result of our highly educated, highly paid and probably highly benefitted traffic planners, engineers and maybe even local politicians whose solution to any cross-road junction is to install a traffic light. The effect is to constantly and frustratingly bring major highway traffic to a complete stop, which inevitably causes bunching and concentration of all that traffic going in the same direction.

Even one vehicle at a minor light-controlled intersection of the TCH has the muscle to completely halt the flow of the majority of the traffic on a so-called major highway and given the number of lights, say just between Mill Bay and Duncan (11 or 12?), the congestion and bunching just grows and gets worse.

To anyone who says that the lights are timed or synchronised and can be negotiated without stopping if the correct speed is maintained, I’d say ‘balderdash’. Add to that the amount of gas that is wasted and the frustration caused in this stop/start carnival and the recipe is ripe for confrontation and accidents.

As for the flow through Duncan — let’s not go there.

Solutions for a free(er) flow of traffic? They are there, but at a cost. Roundabouts (traffic circles)? Bring ‘em on I say. At least the traffic will only be slowed and distributed more evenly at these points, not completely stopped and bunched over and over again.

There are many major high-volume two-lane highways, ‘A’ class roads, not the motorway ‘M’ class in the UK over 200 kilometres long. Traffic lights? Hardly any — all roundabouts, and the traffic flows smoothly. Europe has roundabouts all over and they work in keeping things moving.

To those who will predictably lament, “But they’re so difficult to negotiate” — I’m speechless.

To the traffic ‘planners and engineers’ — is this really the best that you can do? Or worse, is this your deliberate intention?

Mark Wilson

Cobble Hill