Thursday, September 9, 2010

The intersection of William and King is thick with danger and irony

Look both ways before you cross the...thud.

"Now I know, now I know - red means stop, green means go!"

I used to chant this little ditty with my classmates in grade one, never realizing that I'd eventually have to cross the intersection of William and King on foot every day to teach at Red River College.

It's the one intersection in town where it's safer to take your chances by crossing the street against the light rather than with it, and it's located for maximum ironic impact on the south end of the Public Safety Building, the headquarters of the Winnipeg Police Service.

The intersection reminds me a little of Piccadilly Circus in London, minus all of the people, stores, and accents. Otherwise: exactly the same!

It was in Piccadilly Circus that I once almost got mowed down by 20 motorcycles racing around a blind corner at 200 miles per hour. True, I was looking in the wrong direction at the time, but I think you'll agree that it was the motorcyclists' fault for being "culturally insensitive."

If there are two things I can't stand, it's cultural insensitivity and the Brits. See what I did there? Aww, forget it.

The same thing that happened to me in England happens at the intersection of William and King - "King William!?" Told you: British conspiracy.

When the the international symbol for "walk" flashes on, the vehicles on William make a speeding left turn onto King from not one but two lanes, sending pedestrians crossing the street scrambling like the eggs in that "don't do drugs" commercial.


I'm walkin' here!

This begs a few questions:
  • What is it about this intersection that causes drivers to ignore pedestrians?
  • Shouldn't the police be tossing down those spiked belts from the windows of the PSB onto the streets below?
  • People are rushing away from downtown to get to...Henderson Highway?!


  1. I've noticed that people tend to speed through left turns at that intersection. It's a little scary! I can't help but wonder when there'll be some sort of awful accident at the intersection as a result of the driving, and the number of pedestrians in the area.

  2. As the pedestrian traffic increases from the bus stop to the school, that's the real danger.

    I think this could be fixed with a little traffic-light tinkering.

  3. It's bad all around, but worse walking east because the traffic can't even see you on the corner because of the covered sidewalk to protect us, presumably, from debris falling off the crumbling Public Safety Building.

    For some reason, traffic going west has an advance green light. The pedestrian light (in both directions) only goes off afterwards, at the same time as the eastbound traffic. Because that traffic is pretty much all turning left (now, because of the RRC construction, in fact ALL turning left), and westbound traffic is always cleared due to the advance green, you're left with a bunch of people barrelling left without looking.

    You can tell I' studied this problem at length.

    And I typed this all with one finger on my iPod because I'm too lazy to go get my computer, and I haven't learned how to type with two thumbs yet.

  4. Thanks for the comment, Karen. You are an expert - traffic and iPod Touch!

  5. hey!!!
    some of us actually CHOOSE to live off of Henderson hwy

  6. I agree with Karen, it's a traffic flow problem. I've almost been hit here on many occasion, and to me what they need to do is keep the "walk" signal and the green light as seperate events. The traffic lights by my house at Panet and Munroe start with a left turn signal for traffic,and then the "walk" signal comes on a few minutes later,only after the left signal is finished.They need that kind of light here.

  7. I walk and drive on King through that intersection almost every day, and when on foot, I don't both with crossing William on the west side of King, and instead always take the east side of the street. But the downside of doing that is that one block north, I encounter the same problem at King and James (King James? Dost thou also senseth a conspiracy?), when tow lanes of North Kildonan commuters attempt to mow me down when turning right onto James from King.

  8. "If there's two things I can't stand, it's cultural insensitivity and the Dutch." Nigel Powers anyone?

  9. Watch what you say about the Brits when you've got a Watson in your class!


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