Letter to the editor: More courtesy, please, at 9th and Walnut



Three times in the last week I have stopped at the four-way intersection at 9th and Walnut, in the center lane, heading north or south, ready to go straight ahead. I am not signaling a left turn, and I wait for the next car in the four-way rotation to use the intersection – only to have someone pull up on my right – after I stop – and then go straight ahead, in effect passing me on the right and not waiting for their turn, and pulling in in front of me as the parking lane approaches. Passing on the right is illegal.

Should the 9th and Walnut intersection have two straight-ahead lanes? I realize this can be useful if the person in the center lane is waiting to make a turn – but shoving past a non-turning vehicle – is this legal? It is certainly rude. Can people please drive with more courtesy? Again, this has happened three times in the last week, and many more times in the past months. Perhaps the traffic control people need to re-think this intersection.

Nathaniel Brown



  1. As long as the person in the right lane comes to a complete stop. Yields to pedestrians and the others before them in the intersection. And then proceeds through the intersection before you, its legal.. You may find it rude, but this helps with roadway congestion.

  2. I have had an issue with this from the get go! Creating those lanes was a foolish thing to do. I can understand making ‘right turn’ lanes but to make them right turn or straight is ridiculous and dangerous not to mention it is creating the perfect storm for road rage. It seems folks also need a refresher course in how four way stops work as well as some people think that it is like a regular two way stop and once you stop you can just go. NOT!
    This intersection as it stands is dangerous and it is only a matter of time before there is s serious accident or shoot out there.
    Does anyone have any ideas on how we can get the City to change those ridiculous turn/straight lanes?

    • A few years ago when the changes were planned for the intersection I suggested that the additional lanes should be exclusively for right turns, but I was essentially told that I didn’t know what I was talking about. I frequently walk in that area and have observed numerous near misses. I agree, it is only a matter of time before there is a serious accident there.

      At this time, probably the most effective thing to do is to attend a city council meeting and speak when audience comments are scheduled – there is time for them allocated at every council meeting.

  3. During busy times having two cars go straight and then merge allows for better traffic flow. Without this capability long lines will form. 9th ave has been configures with adequate space to merge. The trick is for us to cooperate and allow for traffic to merge once they are thru the intersection. Traffic flow could be improved at other 4 ways stops when configured with adequate space for merging.

    • I totally agree, Darrol. We need to improve traffic flow at intersections (particularly four-way stops), not impede it. It’s great to have the two lanes going straight ahead and then safely merging at a slow speed; it doubles the number of cars that can use the intersection (especially during peak traffic) and cuts wait/idle time significantly.

    • I absolutely agree, Darrol. In the afternoon I frequently come up to this intersection to find a long line of cars in the inside (center) lane, so I opt to use the right lane and wait until the car in the inside lane takes its turn and merge in behind it so that my move doesn’t come across as aggressive.

      Like most situations many drivers are selfish and/or indifferent to common courtesy, there is a way for us all to peacefully co-exist on the roads.

  4. The signage clearly states the right hand lane can be used for straight or right hand turns. It reduces congestion this way, as two cars can simultaneously go through the intersection and merge afterwards. Just because some drivers are jerks and don’t wait their turn doesn’t mean the intersection was designed incorrectly. I like it the way it is.

    • I agree with you, Martin. I live on that block and it is much better than prior to the two-lane configuration. The downside that I see now is that many people believe that “it’s illegal to pass on the right” (it is not) and feel slighted when someone does that legally at this intersection. This inevitably leads to a long, angry, car-horn as the “slighted” driver passes my house. My suggestion would be signs that instruct drivers to “form two lines” so as to mitigate any sense of injustice when the right lanes are used.

  5. First, in my opinion, the two lanes at 9th and Walnut help mitigate congestion along 9th. The double lane should not be used to see who can win the race to where the lane merges. Typically, both cars at the stop sign do not arrive at the same moment so taking turns should be a no brainer. I’ve had repeated problems with the driver in the left lane accelerating to make sure he beats me to the merge point when he wasn’t first to arrive at stop. These drivers obviously think the right lane drivers are usurpers.
    If people follow the guidelines of taking turns and depersonalize the experience, the current configuration should provide the congestion relief as intended.
    While on the subject of 9th Ave., how about designating a right turn lane on 9th and Main? (Heading northbound on 9th to turn right on Main) It is general practice and seems to work smoothly, although likely not legally.

  6. Maybe the direction markings on the north/south streets are not sufficient. How about a sign below the stop sign that says ‘6 way stop’ and shows the possible routes for the lanes? The problem of merging lanes is not really unique to this intersection.

  7. Knowing and obeying basic rules of the road go a long way in relieving this stuff.

    Merging traffic (vehicle on right) yields to traffic already in the lane being merged into (inside lane). Use turn signal to indicate intent.

  8. Wow! I had no idea so many would respond! So perhaps I may clarify: I was talking about people who pull up after I do, when I am not signaling a turn, then buzz past rather than showing the courtesy of waiting their turn. It seems this is legal, but it is still rude. And no, I don’t race them to the merge, or lean on my horn. What is needed is bit more consideration on the part of these hurried, pushy drivers.

    • Rude? pushy? Never thought that at that intersection. But the problem with being in the inside lane if someone pulls up is your vision of the traffic coming up the hill is blocked for both cars and pedestrians. I just let the right lane proceed so I can see what is there before I proceed. But assigning motives like rude and pushy is a bit much, and personalization like like can lead to road rage. Let it go and be safe.

  9. A similar type of action has happened to me at Walnut and 9th. I was heading east, stopped at the intersection. The car in the northbound inside lane stopped, so I proceeded only to be narrowly missed by a car heading north on the outside lane who blasted across the intersection just inches from my car. It’s a dangerous situation and calls for extra care on those intersections.

  10. While the change in lane configuration might have improved traffic flow (and I don’t think the data is convincing), it has created a nightmare for pedestrians. I can’t count the number of times I have had to jump out of the way when drivers fail to come to a full stop and don’t look both ways. This is especially true with drivers in the curb lanes. Making eye contact is essential, but I’ve even had drivers look straight at me and then pull into the intersection. Living near the corner I also witness at least one accident a month in this intersection (most very minor, but a near major T-bone collision just last week). It really comes down to safe driving habits, common sense and courtesy.

    • Robert, I have not seen the data. Can you please tell me where to get the data for this intersection? If you also know where to get the data for the number of accidents there, that would be great, too. Thanks, -Larry

      • Larry,
        When the lane changes were made, transportation officials met with neighbors who were affected by the changes (e.g., those who lost parking in front of residential homes) and we were assured that data would be collected on traffic flow and shared. We were told that if data did not support improvements in flow, there would be a return to the original lane configuration. That is at least 3 years ago and we (at least I) have not seen anything. The person to contact for data is: Bertrand Hauss, P.E. bertrand.hauss@edmondswa.gov

        Good luck and thanks for your interest in improving traffic and safety.

        • Thanks, I appreciate that! They didn’t contact me prior to the changes, but I did not lose any parking. Still, the new merge lane crosses in front of my property. I’ll contact them and let you know if I find anything. Thanks again, -Larry

  11. In reading the original letter, I was surprised to hear about a “four way rotation”. I have noticed a few drivers believe that is the case, but I was taught it was a two way rotation, I.e. The north-south lanes go, then the east-west, etc. Is there a state law on the intersection procedures, or a perceived protocol? What do driver schools teach?

  12. You can’t legislate against rudeness. I use the lane all the time as the original lane usually has more than 5 cars. However, out of courtesy, I allow the person in that original lane go first. It doesn’t stop them and those behind them from giving me the stink eye or flipping me the bird though. Courtesy goes both ways.

  13. I also often use the right lane – and I confused why there is a line- often 8 cars long – with no one using the right lane almost daily around 5pm. The right lane is for the purpose of creating better traffic flow and should be used. It isn’t rude or even aggressive to use it or to move forward when it is north and south lanes turn – even if the left lane doesn’t move first – it is what we are supposed to do. I do however always wait for the left hand lane to go ahead before I merge. I can see that this can be confusing though and if it is a problem for pedestrians that needs to be addressed.

  14. Well, did you just open a big ole can of RUDE. I live on Cedar and 9th. Try to make a left or right into 9th at rush hour. I’ve never seen so many, in a hurry, rude people in my life. Mark my words, there will be an accident at this intersection one day soon. People come screaming down 9th, dart over to that right lane to take advantage of that far right lane. Sometimes that far right lane is the only way for me to get off my street. When I do go straight on 9th rather than turning, I’m met with the “you’re #1 signal” otherwise known as giving the finger, or yelling, and in the case of a couple of weeks ago, honking and yelling. That dude got a phone call to the Edmonds Police. Folks, I know we live in a ME ME ME society, but slow down and have some respect.

  15. The only part of this action that is wrong is not coming to a complete stop and/or not waiting for your turn at the intersection. The two lanes are meant to allow two cars through at a time to prevent long back-ups there. After both cars go through the intersection then they merge back into one lane. It is not rude. It is correct traffic engineering. I can understand not liking it when cars do not come to a complete stop but if they do, people should not getting their feelings hurt.


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