Rules of the road

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By Roderick Benns

Roderick Benns is the publisher of The Advocate. An award-winning author and journalist who grew up in Lindsay, he has written several books including Basic Income: How a Canadian Movement Could Change the World.

Why signal when you can leave someone guessing as to your next move?

Whether you’re here for the summer or live here full time, there are some unofficial rules of the road to make note of in Kawartha Lakes. Consider this a survival guide to blend in better.

First, let’s tackle the Overly Helpful Pedestrian. You know the type. A man is about to cross the road on foot at a corner but then spots a car wanting to turn. The driver is patiently waiting; she knows the pedestrian has the right of way. But the Overly Helpful Pedestrian will have none of it. He immediately goes into traffic cop mode and insists she turn first, in front of him.

They play “no you go” a couple of times to see who can out-Canadian the other.

Meanwhile the cars are piling up behind our driver and any new pedestrians who have arrived are trying to figure out what to do. (Made-up studies show many just give up and walk back home to avoid vehicular manslaughter.)

Signal lights are optional in Lindsay, Fenelon Falls, Bobcaygeon or really wherever you can find running cars. Why signal when you can leave someone guessing as to your next move? Or consider the classic move of signalling left but then veering sharply to the right to execute the I-changed-my-mind-where-I’m-going turn.

Most population centres in Kawartha Lakes have no real hills to speak of but that shouldn’t stop you from pumping those brakes as you near a green light because hey, it could be amber at any minute, right? Better I see those flashing brake lights for a half minute so we can both miss the green light. You know — the colour that means go-for-the-love-of-God.

Then we have the unforgettable experience of approaching a four-way stop sign. This is the place where logic goes to die. In the place I like to call reality, the rule is the first vehicle to arrive gets to go first. Here, a four-way stop can range from getting into a staring contest with other drivers, accelerating and then braking one second later, to watching more than one car proceed through the intersection like an automobile train.  

The only thing worse? When the Overly Helpful Pedestrian comes upon a four-way stop and starts directing traffic.


  1. Jane Chapman says:

    This is hilarious but you may want to include that red traffic lights also mean go. We were stopped at a red light when a driver came up in the left turn lane and proceeded to drive right around the traffic stopped to go through the red light. Not sure what the pedestrian would have done with that. Be careful out there.

    • Ann Rocchi says:

      Remind me of the joke of the old timer who got stopped by the cop for not signalling… “ Why on earth would I signal?”, said the old timer (Let’s say he is from the City of Kawartha Lakes, just for fun…) “ Everybody knows which driveway is mine!”

  2. Jason Hartwick says:

    You missed “turning right at a traffic light means I have the right-of-way no matter what”.

    I have been honked at and even followed for three blocks and yelled at because I had the audacity to go on my green when someone was turning right on their red.

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