For most Ontarians, their first taste of the road begins with pen and paper, and the MTO’s Official Drivers’ Handbook.
To the casual observer in London, there are additional regulations not covered in the handbook. Most drivers in the city adopt the rules organically, though they have never been put to paper.
Thankfully, LondonFuse has been able to compile these rules – both for motorists and pedestrians – to ensure that efficiency is given equal footing to safety in order to truly get around like an A-Hole.
Rule 1: If you can see a light change, you must run it.
If a traffic light turns amber and you can see it from half a block away, you must accelerate in order to make it through the intersection. Drivers must make full use of the two seconds that both directions have at a red light.
Rule 2: Lane changes must be done two at a time with no signal.
Rather than use your blinkers to indicate a lane change, it’s proper practice to turn the wheel sharply and cross two lanes of traffic to get into the left or right turn lane. The more surprising your lane change, the better executed it is. Remember – quick and unannounced is preferable, as it forces other drivers to be more aware of their surroundings.
Rule 3: Air-nudging pedestrians makes them cross the road faster.
If the walk sign is counting down and pedestrians are still crossing the street, motorists must slowly and steadily inch toward the crosswalk when turning right. It is encouraged to get your bumper as close as possible to walkers’ shins. This allows the heat from your grill to inform them of your intention to turn.
Rule 4: Four-way flashers are no-parking zone parking passes.
If you are only running into the grocery store for ten minutes, it is perfectly acceptable to put your four-ways on and park in the fire lane. This lets other drivers know that you are on an urgent errand and don’t have the time to park in the lot proper. It is also allowable to leave your car idling if you will be in and out in less than five minutes.
Rule 5: Drive alongside emergency vehicles.
Ambulances and fire trucks aren’t two lanes wide, so motorists must use that extra space. At any given intersection there is only a one-in-three chance that emergency vehicles will be turning the same direction as you. That means drivers are two-thirds safe. If you are in the left-hand turn lane and a fire truck is approaching you, complete your turn as slowly as you can, and at the last possible second, to keep other drivers from doing the same.
SPECIAL EXEMPTION-LEFT TURNS: If you are four cars back in the left turn lane and the traffic light turns amber, you have the obligation to follow the preceding three cars through the intersection.
Rule 1: Crosswalk lights are suggestions.
So long as you have three seconds to reach the median between cars, you must make the attempt. You can safely wait on the median until the walk sign is on, or until there is another three-second gap to complete your run. Think of the red hand flashing across the street as a high five for saving time.
Rule 2: Do not rush if the lights turn amber or red.
If the the traffic lights change while you are crossing the street, you must continue at a slow and steady pace. During rush hour, this controls the flow of vehicular traffic as drivers must wait at the green light for you to get to the other side.
Rule 3: Make a few false starts to test the waters.
In order to keep motorists on their guard, make sure you step out into oncoming traffic at least two times before stepping back onto the curb. This ‘will they, won’t they’ move lets drivers know you might-possibly-be-intending-to-maybe cross the road. If a driver comes to a complete stop, wave them through, wait three seconds, and begin crossing once they accelerate.
Rule 4: Check your phone while crossing the street.
This is a must, especially if you are wearing headphones. Traffic should never stop you from completing a text. If anything, the opposite is true.
Rule 5: Walk as close to traffic as you can before stopping and waiting for vehicles.
In order to maximize your street-crossing efficiency, walk a couple metres past the curb while a vehicle is approaching. Stop about one foot shy of where it is going to pass you and wait for it to go by. If a motorist stops to let you across, revert to Rule 3.
SPECIAL EXEMPTION – CROSS-TALK=CROSSWALK: If you are having a conversation with someone across the street, there are no restrictions on when you can cross.
As with any traffic regulations, there are always exceptions to the rule. Should you come across a situation not covered above, ask yourself: Is it convenient?
If the answer is yes, proceed with confidence, not caution.
Feature photo by Gerard Creces