Leave right lane open for turning

If I had a nickel for every time I’ve hoped to turn right at a red light, only to be delayed by someone waiting to go straight — someone who stopped in the right lane when the left lane was wide open — I could bail out the ferry system.

Of course, no one is legally bound to

pull up into the left lane at a stoplight to leave the right lane open.
But it sure is the courteous, considerate thing to do. It also helps keep traffic moving.

My rule, if I’m going straight, is if there are two cars or less in left lane (or lanes) and no cars on the right, I go into the left lane. If there’s already someone on the right, stopped and waiting to go straight, then it’s moot.

If there’s a line of three cars or more on the left and the right is open, then I admit I’ll opt for the slight time savings and pull up on the right.

The drivers who bug me the most are those who, with no one else at the light, blithely pull up on the right when it makes absolutely no difference whatsoever to them which lane they’re in.

I know they don’t do it on purpose. I’m sure I’ve done it myself (though not lately).

What it means, though, is they’re not paying attention. They’re not thinking about other drivers.

Hardly surprisingly, they’re often on a cell phone, eating, putting on makeup or doing something that renders them completely oblivious to the road conditions around them.

Funny how that works.

You could make the argument that for drivers who are turning at the next right down the road, starting from the right lane is safer and more practical than changing lanes after going through the intersection. If traffic is light, however, this is not a problem — especially if the right lane is open for right-turners only.

All I ask is, think about it. Be aware.

Parking crackdown

Sound Transit is planning to step up enforcement of parking rules in its park-and-ride lots.
When it does, it won’t mess around. Towing, not tickets, will be the way.

The move comes after riders of Sounder commuter rail and Sound Transit Express buses have complained that many people are leaving their cars in the lots overnight and beyond, and committing other infractions as well.

It’s becoming a pain in the neck for legitimate lot users. Of Sound Transit’s 21 park-and-ride lots in Snohomish, King and Pierce counties, six are 99 percent full or above and seven are at least 90 percent full, according to the agency.

Rules prohibit parking for more than 24 hours; parking in emergency lanes, “no parking” and loading zones; illegally parking in handicapped-designated spaces; parking in more than one space; and parking in a way that blocks other vehicles or pedestrian pathways.

From Jan. 15 through Jan. 22, warning notices will be given out. Starting Jan. 23, violators may be towed. “Sound Transit does not issue tickets,” spokeswoman Kimberly Reason said.
For more information go to www.soundtransit.org and click on “Riding Sound Transit” and then “How to Ride.”

Look for updates on our Street Smarts blog at www.heraldnet.com/streetsmarts.
E-mail us at stsmarts@heraldnet.com. Please include your city of residence.

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