Recently I saw an item on the number of European countries that have elected governments with far right positions. In the US, the current battles for party presidential candidates show a strong move further to the right for the Republicans as Donald Trump talks walls and immigration. All these turns to the right, even if I disagree with them, I can deal with, but there is one that gets under my skin: the right turn on red light!
This upcoming weekend is the first long weekend of the Canadian summer. Known as Victoria Day across the country, and la fête de Dollard in Quebec, it is the unofficial start of summer. Traditionally the time to plant summer gardens. For those who don’t garden, the weekend offers a chance to relax and perhaps take a trip.
Soon the influx of Ontario guests will be in full swing here in Montreal. It is only Thursday and already I have encountered two drivers evidently intent on killing pedestrians. With that in mind let me issue my annual warning: THERE IS NO RIGHT TURN ON A RED LIGHT IN MONTREAL!
As an island, Montreal has limited access points (the scarier way to consider this is that it therefore also has limited exit points) all of which have signs posted clearly indicating that the law on the island is different. No Right on Red!
In North America there are two jurisdictions where you cannot make a right turn on a red light; the island of Montreal and New York City. This is not rocket science. If you turn right on a red light in Montreal you risk a) getting a ticket – local cops love to nail out-of-towners for this, b) having your car kicked and pounded by irate pedestrians à la Ratso Rizzo in Midnight Cowboy or, c) both.
By all means come and visit, but if you must drive please bear in mind that red lights mean stop. Stay stopped until the light turns green. Stay put. Relax. We local pedestrians tend to ignore the concept of crossing against red lights. When we attempt to cross on a red, we get well pissed when some tourist tries to run us over by also going through the red light.
While I’m on the topic let me point out that in an effort to allow for safe pedestrian crossing many intersections have a green straight arrow light for a few seconds before the full green. If you are turning right you cannot go through that arrow (what part of straight don’t you understand is often hooted at transgressors), even if there are no pedestrians crossing. And even if the fools behind you honk. Wait for the full green please.
To avoid all these potentially expensive and dangerous incidents let me suggest you use public transit in downtown Montreal. It is not a car friendly place.