In downtown Malone, eastbound traffic on state Route 11 must merge from two eastbound lanes to one lane. This merge takes place between Pearl Street and Washington Street, a distance of only one block.
Because of geometrics in the heart of Malone's downtown, the first of two regulatory signs warning motorists of the merger (thru traffi use left lane) is just east of Pearl Street. If the merge hasn't been accomplished by just past Washington Street, traffic in the right lane is forced to end up on Clay Street. A second sign (thru traffic use left lane) is on the small island that separates the through eastbound lane from the former right lane.
For all local motorists who know that only the left lane continues, there is no problem, unless you too get caught in the right lane because of heavy traffic in the left lane. But consider, for a moment, the drivers from out of town, who don't know about the necessary merge until they get to Pearl Street. Why do we locals try to make it nearly impossible for someone in the right lane to enter the left one? Do we say "too bad, buster, sit there and wait" or are we in such a hurry we refuse to be courteous because it will let someone ahead of us? Whatever the reason for our often selfish behavior, it can be considered a form of road rage to try to prevent another motorist from merging into our lane. And, to someone that is prevented from merging, it certainly doesn't make his driving disposition any better.
As the writer of these weekly articles on vehicle and traffic law and traffic safety and one that drives in Montreal frequently, let me give you the opposite side of a required merge. The location is the "on ramp" to the westbound Ville Marie Expressway (Auto route 720) from Lucien L'Allier St. in downtown Montreal.
This on-ramp is two lanes wide in order to queue heavy traffic using this entrance to the Ville-Marie. Just prior to actually entering the expressway, the two lanes must merge into one. Malone drivers would not believe how perfectly this merge works. Drivers in each of the two lanes take their turn, alternating from one lane to the other like clockwork.
This is the way merging traffic should behave. First, it doesn't get anyone upset that they lost their rightful turn, and secondly, this method works most efficiently in clearing congestion.
There is nothing in state Vehicle and Traffic Law about the proper way to merge. It is just common sense that each should take his turn. So, take note, Malone motorists, and be a little more courteous at the E. Main Street. merge. Other drivers will appreciate it, and you just might have a good feeling that you were appreciated by another driver.
Visit the website of the Traffic Safety Board at www.franklincony.org to view this and all previous Did You Know articles on vehicle and traffic law and traffic safety.
Dave Werner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.