JUST SAYIN’....... AN OPINION PIECE
By Kirk Winter
As the retired person, in our marriage I am largely responsible for running the errands in our family. I live in Lindsay, and Monday, May 6 appeared to be like almost every other day.
I had just finished picking up a prescription at the pharmacy, and had gone to the top of Kent Street to purchase some adult beverages at the Liquor Store. While I was in the store the power went out. Fortunately, I was paying cash and I was able to complete my transaction.
What I didn’t realize was the immediate traffic chaos I would be joining on Lindsay’s busiest street as drivers decided to lose their minds and ignore everything they had been taught about what to do at a four-way stop without functioning lights.
During my trip up Kent Street, I saw people blow through intersections without slowing for any other traffic, multiple drivers in the intersections at the same time with arms waving and hands gesticulating as vehicles missed each other by inches as the confusion grew, and the overuse of the horn as a form of communication between flummoxed drivers who did not have a clue about what the appropriate etiquette was.
The intersection of Kent and Angeline was worth your life to traverse with all the additional lanes clearly overtaxing the bird-like brains of too many Lindsay drivers. Pedestrians and bicyclists added to the pandemonium by entering lanes of traffic when it clearly wasn’t their turn.
I figured at minimum that CKL police officers would be on point duty at this intersection within minutes of the outage, but there wasn’t a black and white cruiser to be seen.
I thought I had seen everything when a semi-trailer made a rolling stop through the Kent and Adelaide intersection, almost daring any cars to challenge the chrome behemoth in an automotive version of “chicken”. Cars halfway through the intersection slammed on their brakes and stood mid-intersection to let this primordial beast pass.
I arrived at my doctor’s office across the street from LCVI hoping that by the time my appointment was done the lights would be on, and sanity would have returned to the roads.
An hour later, the situation had not improved, and the intersection of Kent Street and Victoria was jammed by indecision as drivers sat at the dead lights wondering what to do.
Power was off for almost eight hours and I am sure the gridlock on Kent Street only got worse as GTA commuters began to feed back into the City later that afternoon.
When the power did finally come back on, I checked the Ontario.ca site for the exact wording of how you need to proceed at a set of lights that have become a four-way stop because of a power outage. The legislation says “at an intersection with stop signs at all corners, you must yield the right-of-way to the first vehicle to come to a complete stop. If two vehicles stop at the same time, the vehicle on the left must yield to the vehicle on the right.”
Dozens of CKL drivers need to commit that definition to memory so next time the lights go out some level of common sense and order is maintained on our city streets. I just hope no one was seriously injured, as hundreds of my fellow drivers made me wonder once again how they ever got their driver’s licenses in the first place.