In New York, it’s illegal to make a right hand turn on a red light. Don’t ask me how I know this but I do. So, after you’ve come to a full stop at the corner of 57th and Madison, wait until the light turns green and then you can turn the corner. Right hand turns on a red are severely restricted in all five boroughs of New York unless otherwise posted. So there’s a tip for you, although the better tip would be to recommend that you never, ever, unless you’re in a presidential motorcade, drive in New York City.

In New York, it’s illegal to make a right hand turn on a red light. 

There are lots of expensive driving lessons to be learned behind the wheel. Some of them are wildly arcane. There’s a law in Colorado that states:

“It shall be unlawful for any person to operate a motor vehicle … past a traffic control point three times in the same direction within any three-hour period between the hours of 9:00 p.m. and 4:00 a.m”.

Odd, huh? Mind you, I’ve encountered a similar un-official regulation here in Canada. My mom grew up in Mission, BC and I spent many holidays wandering the alleyways of that town while visiting relatives. I knew who had backyard bunnies. I knew who had a cherry tree. I knew where the best tobogganing hills were. On a sunny Sunday afternoon a few years back, I was driving my daughter around these old haunts, reminiscing. A woman on one of the residential streets seemed to be giving me the evil eye and we wondered about that. Two ordinary women driving around in a Ford Escape shouldn’t have set off alarm bells, but clearly it did. The next day I got a call from the RCMP asking what my business was touring the streets of Mission. I explained that we were casing the town for a series of heists planned for later in the month which is why I was driving a stolen car. I remember feeling mildly annoyed while simultaneously impressed with Mission’s Neighbourhood Watch program and with the RCMP’s follow-up. Our plans to make off with Mission’s lawn ornaments, however, were thwarted.

Photo by Joshua Wordel

Rockville, Maryland has made it a misdemeanour to use profanity on a street, highway, or sidewalk. You get overheard swearing a blue streak, you can get ticketed. I like this law; the presence of asphalt isn’t an excuse for incivility. Many moons ago I was driving in stop-and-go traffic on 4th Avenue in Vancouver. There was a guy in a car behind me who was changing lanes erratically and laying on his horn. A parked car was trying to ease out into traffic and I stopped to let him in. The man in the car behind me got out of his car and came up to my driver side window and started screaming. It was loud enough and long enough that people came out from the stores lining the street to marvel at his behaviour. When he got back in his car, two of the shop owners gave me his licence plate number and told me I should report him. I did. It turned out that the police had a file on the guy. Lots of nasty stuff, including spousal abuse charges. They asked to keep my name on record in the event that they needed character references. 

Vanity plates are fun. In New Jersey, they’re also an indicator of sobriety. The Garden State restricts access to vanity plates if you’ve ever been charged with Driving Under the Influence.

Unless your record is clean for a minimum of ten years, you’re not wheeling around town sporting CUPC8KE plates.

California, with a population verging on 40 million, has three NHL teams. Per capita, however, California doesn’t turn out as many NHL players as, say, Saskatchewan with a population of 1,188, 338. We may be able to attribute this to the fact that, in California, it’s illegal for a woman to drive while wearing a bathrobe. Yes, this is an actual law on the books. As a mother who drove her son to 5 AM hockey practices, I would have spent considerable time behind bars if we’d lived in California. On any given morning, the parking lots outside ice rinks are filled with bleary-eyed women in bathrobes. Oddly, this law doesn’t apply to men.

And let’s put this oft-cited prohibition to bed: there’s no restriction about driving with bare feet or flip-flops in Canada. In fact, there’s no law that says you even have to wear clothes. Personally, however, I wouldn’t recommend driving naked in Mission, BC. 

This week’s question for readers:


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Submissions to last week’s question:

What’s your policy about on-leash and off-leash?

About three weeks ago I was at Cates Park enjoying the morning on the beach. A heron was fishing and other birds were looking for food. It was peaceful until two off leash dogs ran over to the birds and frightened them off. Their owner watched and did nothing while this was happening. I think that dogs need to be on a leash especially in wildlife habitats. There needs to be better understanding of the damage that off-leash animals can do. 

Gillian Lord

My Mexican rescue dog can catch any fly, anywhere, any time. As for birds, survival of the fittest. It’s not dogs but us that is causing their decline.

Terry Malakoff

Please include cats in your conversation.

The biggest bird murderers out there, no licence necessary, no leashes necessary killing birds by the millions.

Keith Sedar

Thank you so much for speaking up for the birds and against allowing off-leash dogs to chase them as they try to feed. The truth is that many of the wading birds who feed at the mudflats on the Lower Mainland coastline do so in a desperate bid to fuel up to continue their multi-thousand mile journeys north in the summer and south in the winter. Allowing dogs to chase these exhausted, depleted birds is nothing short of inhumane treatment of species already living extremely precarious lives. In the case of birds such as the Western Sandpiper, they are already endangered and will likely become even more so if the Roberts Bank Terminal Two (T2) goes ahead, as it seems it will. 

Unfortunately, it seems many dog owners seem to think it’s their dogs’ right to run wherever they please and then dare to complain when wildlife fights back. One dog owner was upset recently when his husky cross was bitten by a coyote while running in the Lynn Headwaters, an area where some coyotes likely have then dens. As the coyote dens likely have pups in them at this time of year, little wonder the coyotes were out to defend what should be regarded as their habitat. Perhaps there should be a law against allowing dogs off-leash in any space, such as forests and mudflats, where wildlife is likely to be encountered. Native wild creatures should always take precedence over domestic ones. 

Rosalind Britten

This off-leash dog thing is relatively recent: in the mid-80s, everyone decided to get a dog. Until then, our wildlife was relatively safe.

There is a small echo here of indigenous experience. Wildlife has been here for hundreds of thousands of years; Vancouver dog-owners en masse, just under four decades, yet they have just as arrogantly appropriated traditional territory and evicted the original wild residents. The science is clear: off-leash dogs kill, disrupt, harass and evict wildlife. Penalties for bad dog-owner behaviour? Risible. More permissive than the NHL giving a two-game suspension for a career-ending head hit.

Thing is, buddy, it’s your dog, but it’s our wildlife. They were here long before you. Show some goddamn respect.

Michael Price

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