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Merging conversation continues …
There's a bit of a debate going on in the Street Smarts email regarding the answer to last Monday's question about the proper way to merge when the traffic lane a motorist is using is closed up ahead for construction. A reader had asked if it was correct to change lanes as soon as the driver sees the lane closed sign or whether he or she should follow the closed lane until the construction area cones guide him or her to merge into the open lane. To avoid gridlock, the advice given suggested drivers move into the through traffic lane as soon as they see lane closure signs. However, the emails received by Street Smarts insisted that method doesn't work all the time and can cause a traffic back up. Those emails cited that some drivers opt to travel to the point where the lane is closed and merge into the open lane there. That's where the bottle neck occurs, they said. “Too often, I have been in the 'open' lane at the first warning sign, and soon find myself parked – feels like being in reverse -- with cars in the 'closed' lane flowing past,” wrote reader Don Burklo of Soquel. “It makes a lot better sense to use both lanes right up to the closure, and then do what seems to be a fading away skill called, merge! This way the first in line get to stay first in line and all of the pavement prior to the closure gets used appropriately with a minimum of fist clenching and cuss words.” Other readers agreed, with one pointing out that not using both lanes up until the merge cones can create a dangerous situation for the last car in the long line of vehicles in the open lane. That car can be rear-ended by an unsuspecting driver who has yet to see the lane closed signs., the reader suggested. Street Smarts reposed the question to Scotts Valley Police Lt. John Hohmann, who offered advice last time. He said back-up is inevitable when impatient drivers try to cut in the front of the line. Hohmann also referred to the California Vehicle Code in noting the importance of making the merge safely, with as minimal impact as possible on other road users. Below are the vehicle code sections he cited: Section 22107 requires drivers to use care and safety, while signaling their intentions to turn before doing so to not negatively impact others on the road. Section 22108 tells motorists to use their turn signal 100 feet before the place they seek to turn. Section 22109 prohibits drivers from suddenly stopping or decreasing their speed without first signaling their intentions to the driver in the rear. Bike Traffic School Learn to ride your bicycle with traffic safely and confidently at the county's monthly Bike Traffic School. The next class is 6-8 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 6. It costs $35 and pre-registration is required. For information, call (831) 454-7551 or visit www.sctrafficsafety.org/BikeTrafficSchool.