Learn rules of bridge

Letter to the editor

Posted: Friday, April 23, 2004

In response to portions of M.C. Birkner's letter on Wednesday, April 21; the writer seems to indicate that drivers coming off the Douglas Bridge should stop and back up traffic onto the bridge (which creates a traffic hazard) so that drivers from North Douglas can enter into the traffic pattern. That's as ridiculous as it is unsafe. Instead, be grateful the South Douglas drivers stop to let you in, which they should only do when the oncoming lane is clear. It's a courtesy, not a requirement.

M.C. Birkner also refers to what he mistakenly believes is a "merge" lane onto the Douglas Bridge from inbound Egan.That is not a true merge lane. There is a sign on the corner that clearly says "yield."

Taken directly from the DMV driver's manual, here are the instructions on how to approach and proceed through a Yield sign:

1) Slow down as required when approaching this sign.

2) Look both left and right and yield to traffic and pedestrians.

3) Stop required when necessary to avoid pedestrian or traffic on protected street.

The diagram in the driver's manual that gives an example of a protected street indicates that vehicles passing through an intersection on a green light are considered protected and are only required to yield to vehicles that are still continuing through the intersection or pedestrians who are in or who are entering the intersection. On several occasions, I have ended up at a dead stop, in the middle of that intersection, on my green light because of ill-informed drivers forcing their way into traffic when they should be waiting for a reasonable break in traffic. Even more frequently, I very nearly get sideswiped because I refuse to relinquish my legal right-of-way and create a traffic hazard in the intersection behind me.

I have often wondered why such a long yield lane was built into the Douglas Bridge. I can only guess that this was to help alleviate the bottleneck mentioned in M.C. Birkner's letter (imagine how much worse it would be if that extension wasn't there!) and that the engineers assumed that Juneau drivers had received, and retained, adequate driver education.

While the rest of M.C. Birkner's letter was right on, I do not want to see the problems with the Douglas Bridge traffic become any worse. Drivers, please reacquaint yourselves with the rules of the road.

Caroline Byford


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