Speakers Corner: Are you a lane budger or an early-bird merger?

With construction season ramping up we are looking into the rules of the road. In this week's Speakers Corner, Pat Taney speaks with experts on how to merge safely when approaching a lane closure and more.

By Pat Taney

Speakers Corner is back! CityNews wants to hear from you. We’ve been asking you to send us interesting stories, videos or questions you want answered. The Queen Street booth maybe a thing of the past, but we’re still listening and want to hear what’s on your mind.

This week, two sides of a heated debate are weighing in as the spring construction season ramps up.

The issue is over when to merge when you see a sign indicating a lane closure ahead. Some people, like Chris Opesan, merge as soon as they can.

“I feel it’s more polite and safer to get over as soon as possible.”

But others like Jeremie McGuigan wait until the last possible moment.

“I go until the lane actually closes and work my way into the traffic flow.”

So who’s doing it right?

“It’s okay to stay in the lane that’s closing,” said Teresa Di Felice with C.A.A. “If all drivers actually maximize the use of both lanes until they can, this is actually the best case scenario.”

In fact, multiple traffic studies have shown this helps reduce traffic congestion by up to 40 per cent in construction zones.

At the exact point of a bottleneck, drivers should then use the so-called zipper effect.

“Where the lane closure starts, you would let one car in and then go. Each driver would do so and just take a turn,” Di Felice said.

In the past, some cities in North America have put up signs advertising the zipper effect in high traffic construction zones. But not everyone has received the message.

“We’re Canadian. We want to be respectful. We have this mindset and we were probably taught that when you see that sign, the first thing you should do is move over,” Di Felice told CityNews. “But if more drivers would use up as much of the open road as possible, it helps to increase traffic flow and can save everyone time.”

But some drivers say this doesn’t always work.

“I’ve seen the studies and it makes sense but sometimes you get to the end and people don’t let you in,” said Kevin Araya. “Because people don’t know this, it could cause an accident.”

Which is why Di Felice says drivers should follow the number one road rule. Whether you’re an early bird merger or a lane budger, be a polite one.

“Each driver just takes a deep breath and instead of feeling angered at the other one respectfully lets the other one in.”

If you have a story, question or issue you’d like CityNews to look into, send it to us here .

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