H-O-V? Not for Me: The Ongoing Ordeal that is Kelowna Traffic.
My hometown of Kelowna, BC has decided to adopt HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle) Lanes, aka carpool lanes. It’s the stupidest idea our local government has come up with in a long time.
On paper, in an ideal environment, HOV Lanes are a good idea. They
promote carpooling, which theoretically sees less cars on the road, which theoretically leads to less traffic congestion and less pollution. I get that. It’s a great idea. On paper.
It works in big cities like Vancouver; they’ve got a zillion highways for an equal amount of residents, and plenty of places to divert traffic to. Kelowna simply does not have the extra space on its ONE main highway to allow only a select group of people to occupy 1/3 of the traffic space, not to mention in the area of the highest traffic volume in the city. If we had a 4 or 5 lane freeway complete with exit ramps, this might work, but we only have 3 lanes with normal traffic-light controlled intersection turn-offs. Every HOV Lane I’ve ever seen is located in the far left lane; Kelowna decided that the far right lane was the best option. This forces drivers to make potentially dangerous lane changes into the HOV lane to make right turns before crossing through an intersection, amidst the absurdly short distances between our lights.
Citizens watched, waited, and anticipated all summer while construction crews built an additional lane onto Highway 97. Everyone believed there was relief in sight for the gridlock traffic that resides on Harvey Avenue. I have not encountered one person in the city yet who was happy when they heard, “Suprise! Only some of you get to use the extra space! And if you dare use it without having people in your car, or you’re not a bus or semi, we’re going to give you a ticket! Oh, and also, we’re introducing a new tax called the HST! Enjoy!”
Everyone who gets up early to go to work on their own, who doesn’t live anywhere near anyone else who they work with, and lives too far away from their place of employment to bike, and doesn’t have a bus system near them better leave some extra time in the morning to get to work. Wait, that’s pretty much everyone in the city? Oh. Better get to bed early tonight then. Like I said, it’s a good idea on paper, but our city simply isn’t accessible enough by means other than our cars to allow for such drastic changes in our commuting schedules.
Another feather in the cap of the cluster**** that is Kelowna infrastructure and traffic. They better not use taxpayer money to buy the staggering amount of paint thinner they’re going to need to take the white paint out of that lane in a few months. On the lighter side, I can’t wait to see the first person driving with a dummy seatbelted into their passenger seat to avoid a ticket.