An early left is not right

Dear Johnnie: I drive County Line Road south from Ninth Avenue to Colo. Highway 119 on a regular basis, planning to turn left onto Colo.119.

Just north of the first parking lot entrance for McLane, there is a left-turn lane marked to access that entrance. A little farther south, there are double left-turn lanes marked for turning onto Highway 119, and many drivers enter the parking lot left-turn lane and continue south to the left-turn lanes for Highway 119.

Looking at the markings, to me it appears drivers wanting to turn left onto Colo. 119 should wait and pull over when the dual left-turn lanes appear.

I would appreciate clarification on the proper driving etiquette in this area, as there is a significant potential for accidents. — Confused County Line Road Driver.

Dear Confused Driver: You are correct. Southbound drivers wanting to turn left onto Highway 119 should enter the double left-turn lane only after they have passed the McLane entrance.

The marked access to McLane’s entrance was added specifically because the company contacted the city about confusion at the left-turn entrance into their parking lot, city transportation engineer Bob Ball wrote to Johnnie in reply to your question.

Confused, your question got me thinking about other left-turn situations, specifically along streets such as Main and Hover, where a continuous center lane runs for blocks. How close to or far from a turn should a driver enter that lane?

“Along roadways with two-way left-turn lanes, cars should enter the left-turn lane in advance so that they can safely stop, yield and turn left,” Ball said in response. “Drivers should normally not drive in the two-way left-turn lane for unnecessarily long distances past several driveways. The risk of entering this two-way left-turn lane too far in advance is that another driver may also enter to turn left at another entrance before their entrance, which leads to accidents, blockage, etc.”

To the reader who called me about hidden stop signs: I took a look at the stop signs around Prairie Fire Circle and, just as you reported, found that some were almost entirely hidden by foliage (at least before it snowed, they were).

This stop sign along Prairie Fire Circle is almost entirely concealed by a tree.

I also noticed that all of these stop signs controlled traffic on residential courts, where there is little traffic and speeds are low.

So, I asked Bob Ball about this situation. He said that city crews will lower or move the signs and prune the trees.

“There are recommended distances for visibility of regulatory signs (such as stop, yield, etc.) based on travel speeds,” Ball said, “so your observation about a few of these courts comes into play since cars are probably traveling about 10 mph at a few of these. Even though there are very low volumes on many of these side streets, it is still very important that the stop signs are present and visible at all of these public side street approaches.”

I trust that the city can correct this problem without severely pruning the trees. Dressed in their fall colors, they are beautiful, and the homeowners nearby must value them.

Ball also said the city will install new stop signs at a few low-volume side streets where there currently are no signs.

Dear Johnnie: There has been a spate of break-ins in our neighborhood. The most recent was through the front door while the residents were away. Apart from the suspicion that the house had been under observation for a while, it might have been avoided had the porch lights been left on. Rumor has it that under some ancient law, the city meters these lights separately from the rest of the residence and pays for those lights. Can you advise if this is true? — Don

Dear Don: As with many rumors, this one is partially true.

Yes, electricity is delivered unmetered to porch lights in some neighborhoods, generally in areas of central Longmont that don’t have streetlights. This is a remnant of the system the city used decades ago.

Don, if the city is paying for your porch light, you probably would know about it. But if you aren’t sure, call 303-651-8386.

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