Right turn on red

Mayors support easing restriction–but across the island

By Robert Frank

Three West Island mayors have voiced qualified support for permitting motorists to turn right after stopping at a red light. Right now, the two main jurisdictions in North America that prohibit doing so are Manhattan and the Island of Montreal.

“Generally speaking, I’m in favour of a right turn on red,” Beaconsfield mayor David Pollock told The Suburban, “but, for some people, it might cause a little confusion.”

Mayor Pollock explained that for implementation to work, it could not be introduced only in West Island municipalities.

“You have to have a coherent program for the whole island,” he said, “because it would cause problems if you were in, say, St. Laurent where you can’t and all of a sudden you enter Dorval and you can.”

Pointe Claire mayor Bill McMurchie believes that introducing right turn on red will benefit the environment, as well as provide convenience.

“As far as I’m concerned, it does have some distinct advantages,” he said in an interview.

“Aside from being workable and safe, it has the advantage of reducing the number of cars that sit at a stop sign and the subsequent acceleration, which produces the most atmospheric pollution.”

Like his Beaconsfield counterpart, Mayor McMurchie doesn’t believe that West Island municipalities can go it alone.

“I would strongly suggest that whatever happens on the island of Montreal, it doesn’t happen in a piecemeal fashion,” he warned. “It would be absolutely disastrous to have some municipalities that permitted it and others that didn’t.”

“Right now, when a Montreal driver such as myself goes off island, it takes me a little time to realize that I can turn right on red,” Mayor McMurchie added. “The idea of moving from one municipality where you could to another where you couldn’t within the context of island of Montreal would just be completely unacceptable.”

Pierrefonds-Roxboro mayor Monique Worth agreed with Mayor McMurchie’s assessment of the impact upon the environment.

“Personally, I am in favour of right turn on red light,” she concurred, “but as part of the city of Montreal, it is pretty hard for people to have to deal with different rules in different cities.”

“It would be good for sustainable development if it were to be promoted for what it will do for the environment,” she explained. Idling, she said “causes more damage than would be done than by giving people the right to turn on a red light.”

Though Dollard des Ormeaux mayor Ed Janiszewski believes that his community will see right turn on red “at some point”, he was more circumspect.

“Residents of Quebec are 10 years behind in terms of etiquette between pedestrians and cyclists,” he cautioned. “So I think we have a long way to go before we get people to respect each other before the right turns can be done safely. In order to have safe right turns we need several years of education and enforcement.”

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