Sunday, 19 April 2009


Four-way stops suck ass.

Here is a typical experience at a four-way stop:

> Cars A and B arrive at the same time. A is to the right of B
> B waits for A to go because they're on the right, but A isn't sure if they got there first and so waits for B to go.
> C arrives at the intersection, followed by D.
> A and B both start going, then stop to let the other go.
> C says "Fuck it. If you're not going to go then I will" and proceeds through the intersection. Car E pulls up behind him, and car F pulls up behind A.
> D is talking on a cell phone and is only vaguely aware of other cars at the intersection, and so proceeds through out of turn. G pulls up behind him.
> B doesn't want any other cars to go out of turn in front of him, and so goes through the intersection. H pulls up behind him.
> E sees that B is crossing in front of A, and takes the opportunity to go through the intersection.
> F is honking and swearing at A.
> A starts to go, but stops because a pedestrian is starting to cross the road.
> G enters the intersection, but has to stop in the middle of it because of the pedestrian.
> F is having an aneurism.
> G finally clears. H enters the intersection out of turn because he's an impatient asshat.
> A finally goes through the intersection. F follows right on his tail because she's pissed off at having to wait so long.
> etc ...

If four-way stops are stupid, then four-way stops with more than one lane in each direction are downright idiotic. Not only that, they're bad for the environment. Every single car has to some to a complete stop and then accelerate back up to speed. In some neighbourhoods this happens almost every block. No wonder people run the damn things.

Here's what I propose: If space permits, replace every single four way stop with a roundabout. They are efficient, environmentally friendly, and nobody has to remember who got there first or whatever.

City planners have put in the odd roundabout in new developments and on Waterfront Drive, but it is still more of a gimmick or novelty than anything else. We need to start fixing out traffic problems, including our fetish for these retarded intersections that almost nobody handles properly. I think we should develop a 12 year plan to cut the number of four-way stops by 80% by replacing them with roundabouts or regular intersections where ever possible.

I also think it would be cool to see Portage and Main as a roundabout. That would also allow people to turn from northbound Main onto Westbound Portage, which they can't do now. Major intersections in Europe are very often roundabouts and it works very well for them. They often have monuments on the centre island, turning them into something other than your run-of-the-mill meeting of roads. Can you imagine Portage and main with a monument like this one, from the old city hall?
Now that would bring some glory back to Canada's Most Famous Intersection.

h/t Average City for the picture


Graham said...

I read somewhere that in Europe, there are lines painted on the road at 4-ways. The lines are painted as such that one street has priority over the other, thus eliminating the "who got here first" thing.

Doing something like that, or roundabouts, make sense. How many more suburbs are we going to make where a cul de sac with 6 houses on it is for some reason privy to a 4 way intersection? I have to stop because an occupant of one of six houses may be leaving?

PolicyFrog said...

Love this idea. And I definitely wouldn't limit it to the four-way stop signs. There's plenty of signalized intersections that could be replaced by roundabouts: in town, on the perimeter and along major highways.

Of course, you'll inevitably get the "roundabouts will never work in Winnipeg, our drivers are too stupid" argument, which is just silly. Yes, education and good signage would be required, but it's not like you'd roll out 200 roundabouts in a single day.

cherenkov said...

Frogger: our drivers are also too stupid to use four-way stops, so that argument is a saw-off IMO.

I agree that we could also replace many signalized intersections, but not so sure about doing it on the Perimeter or a major highway with lots of large truck traffic. At least with a traffic light there is a 60/40 chance of making it through without having to slow to a crawl. I may be a dreamer, but maybe someday the Perimeter, the TCH, and Hwy 75 will all be non-stop expressways with overpasses. We just need to fire a few nurses to pull it off. :-)

Anonymous said...

They do use painted lines at 4-ways in England but that would not work here because of snow. Same with "cats eyes" on our highways...the snowplows woul destroy them. I am all for a roundabout at Portage and Main, that is a great idea.

Anonymous said...

There are way to many stupid people to use traffic circles in WPG.Most of them do not know how to use a merging lane.It's really not that much different so it would be brutal.

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