'Zippering' rush-hour traffic a hot topic at Winnipeg city hall
St. Boniface councillor says 'zippering' could help get you home faster
A city councillor wants to make a controversial traffic manoeuvre the norm in Winnipeg.
On Wednesday, St. Boniface Coun. Matt Allard put forward a motion asking the city administration to explore the practice of "zippering."
Zippering, also known as "zipper merging," happens when one or more lanes on a multi-lane road is closed. Instead of moving into the open lane as soon as possible, people who are "zipper merging" wait until the last possible moment to move over, and drivers alternate letting cars from the closed lane in.
If all goes according to plan, the cars merge like teeth on a zipper.
How zipper merging works <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/cbcmb?src=hash">#cbcmb</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/driving?src=hash">#driving</a> <a href="https://t.co/UYMZLJsyd1">https://t.co/UYMZLJsyd1</a>—@CBCNewsGraphics
Allard said he wouldn't want a law making zippering mandatory, but he would rather see a "shift in Winnipeg driving culture" that would be encouraged by public awareness campaigns and signage.
He tested out his plan on social media on Tuesday. The response was mixed, but largely positive.
<a href="https://twitter.com/NickMartin14">@NickMartin14</a> Not only most efficient use of roads by far but also universally fair. Same wait for everyone. <a href="https://twitter.com/mathieuallard">@mathieuallard</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/bwgilchrist">@bwgilchrist</a>—@LucLewandoski
I'll make popcorn and watch road rage incidents all day because Winnipeg drivers are horribly selfish. <a href="https://t.co/502SK0uuSm">https://t.co/502SK0uuSm</a>—@jtwpg
<a href="https://twitter.com/LucLewandoski">@LucLewandoski</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/mathieuallard">@mathieuallard</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/jtwpg">@jtwpg</a> We don't have a clue how to use merge lanes. Why do you think this would work? <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/wpgpoli?src=hash">#wpgpoli</a>—@bwgilchrist
<a href="https://twitter.com/stevelambertwpg">@stevelambertwpg</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/policyfrog">@policyfrog</a> three cheers for <a href="https://twitter.com/mathieuallard">@mathieuallard</a>! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/zippermerge?src=hash">#zippermerge</a>—@infidelatheist
Allard said zippering has been encouraged in places like Minnesota and Saskatoon, and evidence suggests that it can reduce lane-closure delays by up to 40 per cent.
Liz Kulyk, spokesperson for CAA Manitoba, says the practice has the potential to work well in Winnipeg.
"Start with really good education," she said, adding that's the way zipper merging became common practice in Minnesota.
"Make sure the signs are really viable, and then just give it time to work as well. Things aren't going to change overnight...it's a behavioural shift."
Winnipeg drivers at River Avenue and Osborne Street on Wednesday had varying opinions on the practice.
"[There's] too much congestion anyway... Too many cars going through anyway. Any stoppage is just gonna make it worse," Chad Chartrand said.
Brett Dobbin disagrees.
"I think zipper merging is not only a logical thing, it's a polite thing," he said.
"It's a thing that most of us do, at least I would think. I'd like to see that be something as mandatory."