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Behind-the-Wheel

What to do, when fences, trees and hedges block the view of the road

Clear road sightlines

We have too many blind corners in our communities, says one correspondent.

And according the writer, they have had, and have seen, many near-misses because drivers cannot see around trees and shrubs when attempting to turn onto a street. It is often impossible to see cross traffic where the growth of grass and weeds forces drivers to pull too far out in order to see oncoming traffic.

Many four-way stops have hedges and trees growing (near them) sometimes blocking the view of the stop signs entirely. Property owners should be told when their bushes and trees pose a hazard to visibility and perhaps be asked to trim them, or have the city do it.

The City of Port Alberni's zoning bylaw is one example of how sight triangles at intersections there must be created and maintained.

“Notwithstanding any other section of this bylaw, on a corner lot at any street or lane intersection, except for a permitted principal building, there shall be no obstruction of the line of vision above a height of 1.25 metre (4.1 feet) and below a height of 3 metres (9.8 feet) in the triangular area contained by lines extending to points 6 metres along each lot line from the corner of the lot and a diagonal line connecting those points.

If the obstruction is from someone's property, the bylaw can be used as a remedy. When it is growing from or situated on the boulevard, then it is the municipality's responsibility.

Contact the municipality responsible and explain the difficulty. Bylaw officers will deal with the property owners and public works will do the maintenance on public property. Be persistent if no action is taken. The most effective method is likely sending a written notice to city council.

The same process works with provincial highways. The British Columbia Active Transportation Design Guide explains how sight lines are decided starting on page G10.

In that case though, the agency to advise is the road maintenance contractor, with a copy to the district office of the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure. It has the authority to take action under the Transportation Act.

Drivers who are faced with poor sight lines at an intersection must stop as required. Having done that, creep forward to a point where you can see without interfering with cross traffic and make a second stop. Proceed when it is safe to do so.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.



More Behind the Wheel articles

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About the Author

Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. He has been writing his column for most of the 20 years of his service in the RCMP.

The column was 'The Beat Goes On' in Fort St. John, 'Traffic Tips' in the South Okanagan and now 'Behind the Wheel' on Vancouver Island and here on Castanet.net.

Schewe retired from the force in January of 2006, but the column has become a habit, and continues.

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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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