The four way stop is new to a lot of people – especially from the UK. I am used to them now but I know that many people I meet are confused by them. After a few scary experiences where a british driver has misunderstood how these four way stops work, I now always make sure they know before we set out in their car.
A four way stop is a junction with four stop signs. Each side of the junction takes their go in turn, based on the order each vehicle reaches the stop sign. The trick to using them is to note who is at the other three stop signs when you reach you the front of the line for your side of the junction. The people already there go first, one by one, and then it is your turn. It is a pretty fair system and works quite well.
Occasionally you have problems when people go out of turn, or when they wave you on when it is not your turn. The rolling stop can cause some confusion here too. Make sure you come to a complete stop and then people will know that you’ve arrived and you get to take your turn.
This evening on our way back from Kits we saw the great advantage of the four way stop procedure when we came to a junction by the highway where the lights were out. Actually they were flashing red – from all directions. This would have caused chaos beyond measure in the UK – and probably most places in the world.
Here? We all started using the four way stop procedure. It was a complicated junction, with more than one lane in each direction, but everything worked well. While we were there traffic kept flowing with only the odd hiccup. There were no horns blaring, no fists raised and no stress. I don’t know where the four way stop came from, but it is well suited to Canada – where fairness and being polite are valued.
On our trip to and from Kelowna we used our GPS (Sat Nav). This toy (sorry tool 🙂 is wonderful when you are traveling around in unfamiliar areas. We were able to set out from Vancouver with our hotel’s address already entered and be confident that we would not only find Kelowna but also get all the way to the hotel.
Our GPS talks to us. No really it does. It tells us which turning to take. Now on a short journey in the city, it pretty much never shuts up. But on a long journey, where you are on the same road for a long time, you begin to wonder if it is on. Especially on this journey over the Coquihalla highway. The map shows you nothing but the road you are on. For five hours. In case anyone has forgotten, Canada is BIG. Really big.
We spent some time imagining what it would be like to drive from coast to coast. It would not only be the GPS that was silent. We would run out of conversation. Probably in Alberta.
Here in Vancouver we have two bridges that cross to the north shore, linking North and West Vancouver to the rest of Vancouver. The Lionsgate bridge is probably the best known. And with it’s three lanes, it can be a frustrating one to use.
But today I wanted to pause and think about the other bridge. It has two names: the second narrows and the ironworkers memorial bridge. The first name makes sense if you think of the Lionsgate bridge as the first narrows. The second name dates back to the catastrophic collapse of the bridge during it’s construction ion June 17, 1958. At that time eighteen ironworkers were killed as the bridge fell into the Burrard inlet.
We may not think about this often as we drive over the bridge, but at least on this anniversary we should give a thought to them.
There is to be a third seabus taking people across from Lonsdale Quay to Canada Place. This brings our ferries up to three in number. We will also only have 10 minutes to wait for the next peak hour ferry, a 5 minute improvement over the 15 minutes now.
Of course we will have to wait until 2010 – the magic year when it all happens. Still it is a great way to travel, whether you are a tourist or commuter. You can even bring your bike aboard 😉
One thing that many people stress about when coming to BC is the thought of taking their driving test here. In fact one of the most common questions is about dodgy ways of beating the system by going first to a Province that allows you to exchange your (British) licence for their Provincial one. Then hopping over to BC and swapping again. Job done.
Well I have heard this scheme to work, if the gods of bureaucracy are on your side. The rules suggest that you should have had your out of Province licence for two years first.
I mention this only because our second daughter, Gwen, has now passed her road test and has a full licence. She has graduated from the graduated licensing program and can drive like an adult. Her examiner actually wrote “beautiful drive” on her results.
Gwen was not really worried about the test. Most of her peers have taken them without failing and so has her older sister. She was probably more worried about the photo for her licence. And she wasn’t all that pleased with that. Beautiful drive shame about the cheesy smile.