QQ Streetcar accident TWICE

QQ streetcar accident TWICE

Twice, first I was on it, then a year later (today) I was watching. It’s QQ, and westbound streetcars hitting westbound left turning traffic.

Today I just happened to be waiting on the south side of QQ to cross, as a streetcar approached the intersection westbound, slowing slightly, and a white minivan in left turn traffic lane beside it, also slowing. As my view of the minivan was beginning to be blocked by the streetcar, and with the streetcar horn blaring, I saw the minivan commence its left turn, inches from the streetcar. I could not see the impact but heard the thud which put the minivan back in the left turn lane.

A year ago the story was almost identical, albeit a different intersection and the fact that I was on board. Sitting in the third seat I watched an executive type bus beside us, steer across our bow and get hit by the streetcar I was in. The collision shoved the bus back into the left turn lane, and ripped the door off the streetcar. In neither case did the streetcar derail,

Looking at the intersections after, on both occasions, from the left turn lane, I see a round green traffic light directly ahead of me, which normally means left turns are permitted subject to oncoming traffic. There being no oncoming streetcar, the drivers’ both commenced turns.

But slewed off to the left are other lights labeled ‘left turn lane’ that were probably red at time of the collisions. The driver it seems is supposed to not only look ahead, but scan the horizon for other lights which may or may not exist, and which give the lie to the familiar round green light in front of them.

The same round green light is installed on King Street between Bathurst and Jarvis for the transit way pilot.  To most of us this means proceed, but on King Street the lights are flanked by no left turn and no straight ahead signs (two beside each light). The whole thing is hideous as well as dangerous. It resembles a quiz – get it wrong and you may be fined.

Traffic lights must be comprehendible in a split second, and highly consistent from one intersection to the next. The QQ traffic lights are not instantly understandable and are therefore part of the problem here. While the bus and minivan drivers will no doubt be found at fault, it is in reality the lights that are at fault.

Clear days, daylight, the best of conditions, not once but TWICE.

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