King Edward and MacDonald – How to Deal With It

Uncommon Intersections

Vancouver is a beautiful city. But it leaves us with a slight predicament when intersections are much larger than normal due to being divided by a boulevard. For example, King Edward and MacDonald. Many drivers get confused here and with good reason.

First of all, review some basic principles of turning left.

Entering The Intersection at King Edward And MacDonald

When turning left, it’s important to enter the intersection and line up your vehicle with where you are about to turn. This sets you up to have a short, easy, and efficient turn. And therefore, a safer one.

The other reason to enter the intersection is a legal one. If you’re inside the intersection when the light is green, the law allows you to leave the intersection when it is safe. This is regardless of the traffic light color.

In Vancouver, it seems the light is commonly yellow, or even red, by the time it is safe to leave. And that is perfectly fine.

Keeping Tires Straight

Whenever possible, you should try to keep your vehicle and tires straight whenever waiting to turn left. This is in case of a rear-end collision.

With the vehicle straight, the impact would push you merely straight ahead. With the vehicle and/or steering wheel turned to the left, the impact may push the vehicle towards the left. And, potentially into the path of an oncoming vehicle.

There are a few exceptions to this rule at particular intersections. For this intersection, it is possible to keep the vehicle straight, and so you should.

Right Of Way

Left turns have zero right-of-way when turning left at a green light. This means no body should have to slow or stop for you, worry about you, or be surprised by you when you’re turning left.

You must yield to straight thru oncoming traffic, pedestrians on your left, and oncoming right-turning traffic, if applicable.

King Edward and MacDonald: Visibility

This also means you remain stopped and wait patiently in cases where you can not see whether or not there is oncoming traffic.

Turning Left At King Edward & MacDonald

What To Do

At King Edward and MacDonald, two opposing vehicles can enter far enough into the intersection to a point where they are both completely past one another.

The intersection is so large that the vehicles won’t be in each other’s way. Both vehicles can still line up their vehicle with where they are turning.

When you do this you have potentially better visibility while keeping your vehicle straight. You have a shorter turn to your lane, and you are out of the way of at least one other oncoming left turning vehicle.

If there are already 2 left turning vehicles in either direction already in the intersection, the 3rd vehicle should stop and wait behind the white line to avoid blocking the entire intersection.

King Edward and MacDonald Vancouver

Notice that this is the exact same thing we do when we’re turning from a side street onto 1st Avenue, for example.

1st avenue vancouver

Avoid turning ‘in front’ of oncoming vehicles, as you normally would.

It would be awkward. It would make it more difficult for both vehicles to have good visibility. And, it would increase the chances of having problems with thru-vehicles attempting to go around the left turning vehicles.

It would also encourage you to angle your vehicle, which we don’t want.

king edward and macdonald

Now this is all fine and good until rush hour. Then, multiple vehicles want to turn left, and multiple vehicles want to go straight.

Say you want to turn left but there’s already a vehicle inside the intersection waiting.

In that case, it may be wise to stop behind the white stopping line. If the light goes yellow, you aren’t in an awfully precarious and possibly unsafe position.

king edward and macdonald intersection

If you’re turning onto MacDonald, then turn like a regular left turn. That half of the intersection is more ‘normal.’ I mean, normal is just a setting on your laundry machine. But you know what I mean.

ICBC Point Grey king edward and macdonald

Boulevard Driving

Boulevard

This type of intersection confuses many learner drivers in ways that other intersections just can’t compare to.

Really though, it is simply a 2-way stop. It just happens to be a very Large 2-way stop. There happens to be some grass in the middle of the road. But the rest of the rules, in terms of right-of-way, are the same. That means:

The two vehicles facing the stop signs must yield to thru traffic. After you yield to one direction of traffic, you may drive to the middle of the road beside the grass and yield to the next half.

You were the one facing the stop sign, and others are not, therefore you’re the one who must yield.

Whichever car entered the intersection first should go first.

If two vehicles arrive at the same time, the left-turning vehicle should yield to the straight-thru vehicle and/or right-turning vehicle. Try to get eye contact.

If you want the other driver to go first, simply stop your car and make eye contact with the driver. If the driver sees you are looking left & right for the cross traffic, then he will probably perceive that you are getting ready to make a move. Avoid waving at drivers to go first (liability issues).

By Carmen

Carmen became a driving instructor at the age of 22 in North Vancouver, Canada.

23 comments

  1. Thanks for all the posts. They have been very helpful. The shown Left Turn from MacDonald to King Edward makes sense. Unlike what you show in the last picture, I am wondering if we are expected to wait in the island for the Left Turn from King Edward on to MacDonald as well. Otherwise I will be backing up the traffic on King Ed. The island is a hard spot to wait in this direction. Also I wonder if the “Right of Island” sign is for the traffic on King Ed or for the cross traffic on MacDonald.

  2. This happened to me on 16th and McDonald when I went to turn left – I am always getting confused in these intersections because sometimes the car opposite me who is turning left, doesn’t go into the middle of the intersection… I don’t want to confuse them by going into the middle of the intersection and them not know whether or not to go past me or in front of me to make their left turn. How should I go about these situations (esp. for my road test)? Thank you!

  3. I was at the stop sign on Valley Drive and King Edward and planning to go north straight through the double intersection. Another driver going west on King Edward turned left at Valley and then tried to immediately turn left again in front of me as he wanted to go east on King Edward towards Arbutus. Before he started turning again, I started to proceed through the intersection. The other driver became irate and said that he should go first as I was at the stop sign. From what I read on-line, the driver turning left should yield to the driver going through the intersection. Can you please clarify what should happen in this instance? Thanks!

  4. This kind of vaguely defined rule in Canada drives me crazy. What if the oncoming left turner subjectively makes a different decision about whether there’s enough space to do the offside turn?

    Rules of the road should be unambiguous and clearly defined to drivers, some lane markings in intersections would work wonders.

  5. I love the idea of offside-to-offside turns. Very often, I find it’s impossible to see behind the car opposite (also turning left) and have to wait ages for the light to change. I find, however, that the rule that you shouldn’t turn your wheels is a huge part of this problem–in the UK, you’re allowed (and supposed) to turn your wheels slightly to afford yourself a better view of the oncoming lane of traffic (and thereby enabling yourself to turn at an earlier opportunity). Yes, it does create the “danger” of a rear-end, but BC’s rules allow only 1 car into the intersection for left-turns at a time anyway. I think the “wheels straight” rule is probably less helpful than it seems.

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