What's the rule for stop signs?

YOU ASKED: Stop signs used to be marked "no parking within 25 feet." Now they aren't. Does that mean you can park right up to the stop sign?

- Gaffer

OUR ANSWER: In short, no.

According to the rules of road (a.k.a. the Motor Vehicle Act), it is illegal to park within six metres of a stop sign.

That's about 19.6 ft. for those folks who still prefer imperial measurements - or about one-and-a-half car lengths away from the stop sign.

It is also illegal to park within six metres of a crosswalk or intersection, within five metres of a fire hydrant and within 15 metres of the nearest rail of a railway crossing.

Now, just for fun, we decided to take a drive through south Kamloops on Tuesday to see if we could find any vehicles snuggling an intersection.

It didn't take long to come upon some alleged violators, the photos of which we sent to Kamloops RCMP Const. Rose Dunsmore for her inspection.

"Photos can be deceptive," said Dunsmore, "but, just from taking a quick look, it would certainly appear as though those vehicles are too close."

In general, the vast majority of drivers in Kamloops obey the rules of parking, said Dunsmore. The edges of the curbs on many intersections are painted yellow, which helps.

Still, there is the odd violator, particularly when it comes to fire hydrants.

"Where I've taken issue is cars parked near a hydrant, especially when there's a fire call, and these guys are having to drag their fire hoses over vehicles to get to a hydrant," said Dunsmore.

"Certainly that's a Motor Vehicle Act infraction and we'll certainly issue tickets."

How can you avoid a ticket? Dunsmore recommends parking far enough away from an intersection so that one and a half cars can fit in front of yours.

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In Tuesday's Readers' Reporter, we tackled the history behind the Shakespearean-inspired place names on the Coquihalla Highway and discovered that the names date back to the construction of the Kettle Valley Railway line in the early 1900s.

We also discovered some conflicting accounts as to who was responsible for the original idea. One source said it was the railway's engineer, Andrew McCulloch. Another said it was KVR's president James Warren. And a third claimed it was Warren's daughter.

Roland Neave of Wells Gray Tours was kind enough to do a little digging on Tuesday and he scanned a few pages of Barry Sanford's book, McCulloch's Wonder.

In the pages, Sanford writes the following about the early days of the rail line: "Over the years, thousands of tourists would venture from around the world to see and photograph the stationboards of Othello, Lear, Jessica, Portia, Iago â and in time many colourful but erroneous stores concerning the origin of the Shakespearean names were generated."

Sanford says it was McCulloch who came up with the idea to pay homage to the Bard but that McCulloch and Warren chose the names together.

* * *

And still on the topic of the Coquihalla, a couple of weeks ago, we ran a question about the winter road maintenance procedures on that mountain pass, specifically focussing on the method used in creating "winter abrasive," the sand and gravel mixture that's spread across the highway for traction.

Engineer Al Gaunce, an avid reader of this column, was nice enough to offer some additional thoughts on the issue:

"Your answer is very correct as far as it goes, and you do identify the source of the issue - the B.C. Ministry of Transportation and its specification for the 'gravel.' Firstly, it is not gravel - it is crushed rock and crushed to a specification that allows up to Â-inch pieces. Crushing and screening to a smaller maximum size (which would have less impact on windshields) would cost more and our taxes would need to increase to cover the extra cost.

"I highly suspect that those who have vehicle damage from our special crushed rock absorb the extra cost in their deductible amount in their insurance policy when getting the windshield replaced or other repairs caused by this source.

"Therefore, it would seem to me that those who are unlucky enough to have to replace a windshield are the ones to pay the extra cost of having damage-causing material spread on our highways. They pay the cost but that does not fix the problem. The problem is still there."

Gaunce says the cost to unlucky driver doesn't end there.

Factor in lost time waiting for the window replacement, travel to get to the glass replacement location, and lost time that would have been used for something more productive.

"I suppose my point is if we call a spade by its true name here, it is the Ministry specification allowing Â-inch stone, which causes the damage to our vehicles. A small maximum size of stone would cause much less damage, if any."

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