As some of you already know, I am a proponent of zipper merge. It is an easy solution to a common traffic problem based on the simple concept of taking turns — something we all learned as kids. Yet as adults, we seem to have an exceedingly difficult time adjusting to this change. A new report documents that Winnipeggers aren’t exactly embracing the idea.
Years of scrapping and clawing our way through an adulthood filled with greedy and selfish individuals has beaten the concept of taking turns from our Anterior Cingulate Cortexs. Yet I still believe it’s in all of us. Or most of us. Maybe we just need to help nudge it out of its hiding place.
Therefore I propose a minor adjustment to the design of the zipper merge. A normal zipper merge (figure A) is a standard construction merge where one lane is lost, and drivers from the open lane are expected to let drivers from the closed lane “zip” in because there is a sign telling them to do so. Sounds easy enough, but old habits die hard I guess, so let’s force the issue.
My new Version 2 of zipper merge (figure B) takes the dominant lane distinction away. Both sides lose half a lane and merge evenly into a single common lane. There is no reason for all the cars to stack into a single lane, nor is there a reason to block someone out when they try to merge. Everyone is equal!
Merge signs, before and after:
Like any change that involves a minuscule adjustment to traffic norms, people will hyperventilate and predict chaos and carnage because “Winnipeggers are bad drivers” etc. That’s OK. We know it’s coming and we can prepare for it by plugging our ears and singing.
No conclusion can be reached based on the City of Winnipeg’s modest, half-hearted attempt at zipper merge last summer. It’s sensible and inexpensive to implement. There is no reason not to keep pushing forward with zipper merge. I can start a GoFundMe to order new signs if that helps.
Let’s ignore the naysayers and embrace innovation!