Two wrongs to make a left

Driving north on Sankt Eriksgatan in Stockholm, at the intersection between the said street and Rörstrandsgatan, there’s a no-left turn sign. I see it every day, when Son and Daughter and me are driving home from school. (It’s here.)

We’re always on the left lane because the right one is only for those turning right, and the traffic is always easier on the left lane anyway. I pick up the kids, on average, four times a week, but for argument’s sake, let’s just say I’m in my car, driving north at Sankt Eriksgatan and Rörstrandsgatan three times a week, sometime between 3 and 3.30. (Singing, talking, playing car games, refereeing a backseat argument, or, just quietly listening to a podcast while Son and Daughter listen to a CD).

It really is a no-no.

And if I was a betting man, I would be willing to bet a lot of money on seeing a car make a left turn right there. As a driver, I can understand that. Rörstrandsgatan is a nice street, with several nice restaurants, cafés, and the Apple service, and not only that, if you want to get there, and won’t make a left-turn right there, you’re in for a pretty long detour, because you can’t turn left in the next two intersections, either, but have to go all the way to Karlbergsvägen, and then navigate your way back to Sankt Eriksgatan, and make a right.

Now, apparently, the Michigan Left is safer and even an environmentally-friendly way to do it, but the one created at this particular Stockholm intersection is a bastard version of it, because the turn to Karlbergsvägen is still just a regular left.

Anyway, having made this drive three times a week, for 35 weeks a year for two years, I’ve seen a lot of cars make that illegal left turn. I don’t care about the safety, not much because – let’s face it, I am a better-than-average driver. What I find more interesting is that almost without exception, the drivers making that turn, also never use the signal.

Close to our old apartment, there was a short street for buses only. The problem was that those 200 meters connected two major streets, and the detour was closer to 2 kilometer. So, a lot of people drove through that street – fast. Very fast.

My theory with the non-signalers and speeders is that since they know they’re doing something they shouldn’t, they also subconsciously try to sneak through the turn, make it quick, so nobody will notice. Maybe they’re nervous about doing something forbidden, focus on getting quickly out of the way, and forget? Choke.

Of course it could just be that the drivers who decide to make an illegal turn don’t care about following any rules whatsoever, but why do they then look so scared when I honk at them if not out of embarrassment for getting caught?

2 thoughts on “Two wrongs to make a left

  1. In the Toyota spirit, I would like to ask WHY a left turn is illegal here. That short stretch is mostly deserted anyway. It’s not like an extra hundred cars a day would cause chaos.
    What would happen if they allowed it? Less congestion on other streets, fewer reckless offenders, less pollution, fewer kids late for school, fewer parents late for work.
    Might be worth trying.

  2. Yeah, I didn’t really want to go there – in a figure of speech – but it’s a good question, of course. I’ve been thinking about it, too, and this is my fair and balanced answer:

    There’s two lanes, and one of them is right-turn only, which means that all traffic coming from Fridhemsplan gets packed on the left lane. Also, St Eriksgatan has a lot of traffic going the other direction, southbound, that is, and a car standing there, waiting, would probably add to the congestion. It happens every time somebody tries to sneak through.

    Of course, you could make changes there. You could have the traffic lights give the left-turners a few extra seconds to make their move. You could change the Odengatan arrangements (take out the bus-only lane), or you could put a roundabout there, although, with the long buses coming from Odengatan, they’d probably block the whole thing.

    But, like I said, I’m more curious about the double-sneak.

How does that make you feel?