While vacationing in British Columbia last week, I made a slight detour along the way to check out the small city of Enderby, BC. I had read about the Sushwap River floats there and wanted to check out the scene.
As I drove into town, I decided to explore around before heading out over the bridge to the launch point. I eventually ended up on Cliff Avenue, the main drag. As I approached the intersection, I signaled to make a left turn and proceeded onto 97A after traffic cleared. I was immediately lit-up by an RCMP police cruiser.
First thoughts: Road pops? Nope. Ok good. BC bud on me? Nope. Grab easily accessible registration and get wallet out. I pulled the S4 over into the gas station parking lot trying to figure out what I had done wrong. While handing over my license and registration the cop said I had made an illegal left turn at the intersection. Mentioning that I was obviously from out of town and had not seen the sign didn’t help. The fine was $121.
I decided to go back to have a look. On foot, I headed towards the intersection with my Galaxy S3. While snapping photos, I noticed several other vehicles with left turn signals on. I waved to the driver in the Sierra and as he lowered his window pointed to the no left turn sign behind him. “Don’t turn left here unless you want a ticket!” He thanked me and made a right. As I was walking away, a woman was signalling left and made the turn. She was promptly pulled over by the same policeman. I could have stood there all day issuing warnings. The cop couldn’t keep up. I walked back to my car wondering how long this bullshit racket had been going on.
Not letting this ruin my day, I went for a short drive upstream to check out one of the drop-in spots along the Sushwap River. The Sushwap was fairly transparent and clean looking. The flow rate was on the low end of the scale. Water levels get lower this time of year. This revealed some rocks and algae in certain sections near the riverbank. The water was warm enough to bathe in. I’d rank this river on the high end of the floatability scale. I returned to the main bridge in town where several groups of young women in bikinis floated by below me. Yes indeed, this river would definitely be worth dropping the Explorer 100s into!
While parked on the main road, I noticed all the locals were turning left a few blocks before the intersection at 97A. I grabbed a bag of ice from IGA, filled the cooler and hit the highway out of town.
After returning home to Vag City, I decided to do some more investigative work. I first wanted to get some history on the sign. I emailed the Mayor of the City of Enderby. Surprisingly he responded:
The sign has been there for about 5 years. In BC the highways are operated by the province and when they did a highway improvement back then they told us there will be no left hand turns mostly because of traffic volume I believe. The province and their traffic division handle all signage and they have improved it as of the last few months. Greg
Not a good start to the investigation. If the sign has been posted for five years and nothing has changed, I’m pretty much screwed!
Looking into this further, I found new interesting evidence to support a dispute in court. Below are three case points that could be presented in my defence:
Exhibit A – Insurance Corporation of British Columbia’s (ICBC) Drivers Manual:
Reading through ICBC’s “Developing Your Smart Driving Skills” manual, the section about Turn Control Signs states:
“Turn control signs are mounted directly above the intersection.”
As shown in the picture below, there is no signage posted directly above the intersection. I realize this argument alone wouldn’t hold in court, however, I think it’s still worth highlighting. Most intersections like this have at least one sign on the other side of the road.
Exhibit B – Location of Control Sign:
In the pictures below, note the location of the sign from several angles showing how far back it is from stop line. It’s impossible to see the sign once you have pulled up to the stop line. Unless you catch it on the approach to the intersection, you’re out of luck.
Exhibit C – Original Location of Control Sign:
Below are snapshots from Google Street View showing where the sign was originally placed. The Street View is dated October 2015. Note the absence of decorative steel columns on the corner. This is clear evidence the sign post has since been re-positioned behind the stop line.
This one is a real beaut! Below is Google’s satellite image of the intersection capturing a vehicle making an illegal left turn. This image alone should win me the court case!
Further investigation reveals the City of Enderby recently completed a $1.8M construction project on Cliff Avenue in 2016. From the news release:
“The Cliff Avenue renewal will feature materials and furnishings that celebrate the importance of the Shuswap River to Enderby. Enhanced traffic and pedestrian safety are prioritized with a raised intersection at Cliff and Belvedere that doubles as a public plaza, unique seating, rain gardens and street trees, and distinctive pier-themed gateway structures which will enhance the visibility of Cliff Avenue as a destination and a gathering place. The new streetscape will support cultural and social events while creating a beautiful and vibrant streetscape that will help to enhance economic activity.”
Gateway perspective concept drawing for the Cliff Avenue renewal project scheduled for 2016.
On June 29, 2016 Cliff Avenue reopened to traffic.
This confirms the difference observed in images in Exhibit B and C and establishes a solid timeline for when things changed. The sign has only been in the new spot for about six weeks.
In summary, there is sufficient evidence demonstrating that the existing turn control sign has recently been moved back from it’s original position. There is insufficient signage for motorists to recognize this is a no left turn intersection. The driving offense should be waived. The City of Enderby and the British Columbia Department of Transportation should arrange to have proper signage placed at this intersection. The RCMP should be notified that no further tickets are to be issued until proper signage has been installed.
A friend’s Dad is a retired RCMP. I’m going to get his opinion on what my chances are in court. I’ve got about twenty days left to decide if it’s worth contesting. The provincial court is in Vernon, BC which is about 1300 kilometers from home. This could end up being a time+travel vs. fine+insurance cost comparison I’d have to weigh out. Note that the $121 fine is minor compared to the reduction in auto insurance discount tacked on top of this. A rough estimate is $1000 cost in addition to the fine.
Standing at the Gateways of Enderby and offering tips for tips with about-to-be-$121 poorer motorists has crossed my mind. This could offset a good portion of travel expenses incurred on my trip to Vernon. Funny how in the process of bringing visibility and economic activity to the area, the city unintentionally created an ideal police trap for tourists!