Suburban Newspaper, Joel Goldenberg, June 11th, 2014

 

A Montreal municipal court judge has thrown out an infraction issued in June of last year to Côte St. Luc resident Alissa Sklar, who was ticketed for turning left from eastbound Fleet onto the eastern tip of Netherwood Crescent at 8:05 a.m.

Hampstead’s many eastbound Fleet left-turn prohibition signs have received mixed reviews, with some motorists saying they are confusing and the print on the signs specifying prohibition times is too small.

The Netherwood intersection has a no left-turn sign, and specifically prohibits left turns from 7 to 7:30 a.m. and from 7:45 to 9 a.m. Monday to Friday. At Finchley, there is a straight arrow sign, but a motorist is allowed to turn left during a 15-minute period, from 8 to 8:15 a.m. Monday to Friday.

“I said to the judge, “I have a doctorate and I would like to think I’m at least reasonable and intelligent,’” Sklar told The Suburban last week. “I told him I drive on Fleet from time to time, and I was aware of how confusing these signs are. I had to get to a street in Hampstead north of Fleet, and I was kind of paralyzed by indecision.”

Sklar said she told the judge the Netherwood intersection sign was especially confusing.

“I showed the judge the other signs, which said ‘except.’ The judge went through it with me, and the whole time, the prosecutor for the city was laughing her head off. She obviously agreed the whole thing was ridiculous.”

Sklar said the judge examined each of the signs, and appeared to be “clearly puzzled” by the Netherwood intersection sign.

“The judge said ‘I don’t know what it means.’ He gave it to the prosecutor and she was laughing and said, ‘I don’t have a single thing to say about these signs. The only thing I should say is I should stay off Fleet Road myself.’”

Mayor William Steinberg said he could not comment directly on the court’s decision as he was not present at the St. Laurent courthouse.

“However, the left turn restrictions have been in effect for over two years and the result is much less traffic going through our residential streets north of Fleet,” he said. “Before the restrictions, residents on many streets had a very hard time backing out of their driveways in the morning due to the volume of morning rush hour traffic. Councillor Harvey Shaffer gets credit for coming up with a solution that spread the pain and also reduced the overall volume of traffic turning left off of Fleet.

“Long term, opening Cavendish is the best solution for reducing traffic on Fleet.”

 

In my opinion: I said it right here when these ridiculous signs went up a couple of years ago. I would not pay such a fine. I’d also take it to court as these bizarre and confusing signs would never stand before a judge.

No_left_Fleet_Hampstead_2013a

Photo Lewis Cohen

Good for Alissa Sklar who proved the point and showed that these signs are meant to baffle and scare motorists, mostly from CSL, into obeyance. Even the prosecutor laughed at Hampstead’s intentionally unclear road signs.

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Photo Lewis Cohen

Mr. Mayor and Town Councillors. You’re all good people trying to do your best for your residents and for that you are to be commended. But these signs create confusion and even frighten motorists who are otherwise obedient, good drivers. Please take down these signs and let’s all work together, with CDN-NDG too, to ease congestion and aggravation along the Fleet-Van Horne corridor. This will require some cooperation and good faith from Montreal Councillor Marvin Rotrand to help out on the feeders to Decarie, on paving the horrible asphalt on Van Horne, and in working to improve the commute for thousands of our residents.

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Photo Lewis Cohen

You be the judge. These are four no left turn signs at four consecutive intersections along Fleet Road in Hampstead. Imagine coming upon these signs in morning rush hour, cars right up your tail, bright sunshine or blinding snow and trying to figure out if you can, if you can’t, what time it is right at that moment, what to do if you’re four minutes late or two minutes early? What do you think about this? Please comment.

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Photo Lewis Cohen

Comment from CSL resident Lewis Cohen, who last year was ticketed $161 for making an illegal left turn a few minutes past the marked minutes on Fleet Road in Hampstead:

It’s close to impossible to read all the times when turning is (or is not) permitted while checking the current time with steady traffic right behind your rear bumper during rush hour with different signage at every intersection. Signage in Montreal so much clearer and simpler. Hampstead obviously never heard of the “kiss” principal – keep it simple – stupid.

Heaven forbid you accidentally turn ten minutes early or late as I did once, and you get a $ 161.00 ticket from SPVM hiding on a side street. It’s almost entrapment. Worst part is, these restrictions have nothing to do with safety whatsoever..

If you aren’t irritated enough with the lack of alternate routes through Hampstead during peak hours, you are often stuck in gridlock as their public works crews block one lane in each direction on Fleet for hours a day while flowers are planted, flower beds cleaned up, or removed in the fall.

If the tables were turned and Hampstead residents had to travel through CSL to go to work and return home and put up with this ludicrous signage and flower bed planting woes, I wonder if we would hear similar complaints from their residents and councilors.

So much for good neighbour policy.

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