Uncivil engineering

Ottawa features an expressway, the Queensway, going right through the centre of
town, east to. Most of my complaints about Ottawa drivers involve how they behave
on the Queensway; some of my favourites include trying to merge without
accelerating beyond 50 km/h; stopping on the on-ramp when unable to merge at
50 km/h; immediately changing into the middle lane, still going 60-70 km/h,
to get out of the way of the other idiots trying to merge at 50 km/h;
slowing to 20-30 km/h because the sun is in front of them, and so on.

Most of the argh comes from people unable to use on- and off-ramps, and to
an extent I’ve determined that this is because about half the people on the
expressway treat it like a city street, which isn’t that wacky, because
it is the city street you use to get from one part of town to another —
it just happens to be a controlled-access expressway.

But given that people are unable to merge onto the bloody highway, it bothers
me that the majority of the really busy onramps and offramps are like


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< where people coming onto the highway have to merge through people trying to get off of the highway. This is asking for trouble in a city of well-behaved drivers, and it's madness here. And trouble they get! In the best
case, everyone in the rightmost lane slows to 30 km/h approaching the ramp in
order to let those exiting mesh with the cars trying to enter the freeway.

Of course, there’s a reason that’s called “the best case”. Stopping on
the onramp is popular, as is driving to the very end of the onramp and finally
merging by driving over the DO NOT DRIVE HERE, THIS IS REALLY A MEDIAN
painted diagonal lines. Also popular: Nearly merging into a car in the
lane beside the onramp, and having to swerve onto the shoulder when someone
tries to move onto the offramp right where you happen to be.

Best as I can tell, the reason they do this is because they have a highway
exit about every three blocks downtown. I don’t want to imagine why they
decided they had to do this. Ottawa is not big. But it’s one thing when
the drivers are bad, and another entirely when the highways are designed
to magnify it. STOP HELPING!