W King Edward Ave & MacDonald Vancouver – Safe Driving Tips

west king edward ave and macdonald street

Uncommon Intersections

VancouverOpens in a new tab. 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
King Edward Avenue (25th) and MacDo...
King Edward Avenue (25th) and MacDonald Avenue, Vancouver, Safe Left Turning Examples

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).

Carmen

Carmen became a driving instructor at the age of 22 in North Vancouver, Canada and is an experienced writer, blogger, photographer, artist, philosopher, certified day dreamer and generally complicated human.

23 thoughts on “W King Edward Ave & MacDonald Vancouver – Safe Driving Tips

  1. Thank you so much for this post. I live in Richmond and the ambiguity of turning left onto Odlin Rd from Garden City has put me in some awkward situations because people seem to have their own ideas of how the turn should be made. In general people turning left do exactly as pictured in your last example. However, I have come across some drivers who try to do a weave type maneuver, going behind the opposite left turning vehicle or getting really close to the divider on the other side before they turn. I understand that is done in certain countries but does it apply specifically to this intersection? I mean if that was the consensus it would provide for better visibility of oncoming traffic. Would you be able to take a look at the graphic I drew up and let me know what is the best course of action for this situation? In the example I am the red vehicle that was southbound on Garden City. Thank you!

  2. Thank you SO much for this! I’ve lived in the area for nearly 10 years but I don’t remember those intersections being so frustrating before… I’ve had increasing frustration about the Macdonald and King Edward intersection (and the one at 16th and Macdonald) over recent months, to the point of going out of my way to avoid them at times. I couldn’t find anything in the ICBC driving guides, or the MVA, so when I came to this blog looking for answers… and saw a post about this very intersection, I was so relieved. I’m glad to know there’s room for common sense when there is an east-west median and no north-south median (or vice versa), and that I’m not violating the MVA in the process. Sure, I see the 2nd vehicles in line for a left turn not leaving space for the oncoming vehicles to turn (through the lineup), which makes it awkward and causes frustration as the light changes, but at least it’s a permissible strategy.

  3. If I’m heading north and I want to go straight down Macdonald and there is a car in front of me turning left, can I go around them? There is only one lane on that side of the road. If I can, do I need to signal? I noticed drivers doing it in the video but I wanted to clarify.

    1. You are generally allowed to, just be careful of oncoming left-turning vehicles who might not be able to see you,.. Check out this one:

      http://drivinginstructorblog.com/q-signal-passing-left-turning-vehicle/

  4. What is the correct way to turn left from an avenue to a side street? Driving infront of oncoming drivers making the same turn like a normal intersection (hold left in intersection) or making a wide turn around the other turning vehicle to hold right in the intersection?

        1. I should really make a video on King Ed left turns. They aren’t all the same so it is hard to give you an answer.. Probably more common is like how it’s shown in the first 2 diagrams above…

  5. Yes you’re right, just turn like a normal left turn as there isn’t enough room to go past the other car. See updated diagram on bottom of post.

  6. Hi,
    What if I am in King Edward and want to turn left onto Macdonalds? Should I turn immediately as we normally do, or should I go all the way to the front and then make the turn? I have a road test in 2 days, and am really confused with this boulvard turning stuffs.

    My instructor actually told me that Macd. and KingEd. intersection is not the same as Bleheim and KingEd., as in the second one we need to turn left the way you showed above, but for the first we should not do so!!!

    Thanks,

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