A few weeks ago, a coworker came through the office. He told us he had just left a meeting, where the discussion turned to traffic trivia around Clovis.
“For example,” he said, “it’s illegal to turn left into Walgreen’s from Prince Street.”
I did a double-take.
“I’ve never heard of that,” I said, “and I do that all the time.”
I’d gone through a mental catalog of the number of times I’d went to the pharmacy, and realized I made that illegal turn roughly 50 percent of the times I’d gone there. Apparently, he said, there’s a sign there.
I thought nothing of it until a few weeks later, when I chatted with some officers at an accident scene. I won’t identify them because it was a casual conversation.
“Hey guys,” I said, “is it really illegal to turn left from Prince Street into Walgreen’s?”
One shook his head. The other said, “Yes, and there’s a sign that says you can’t do it.”
If officers don’t know, I’m sure some citizens don’t know, I figured. I made a call a little later to the Clovis Police Department.
Capt. Patrick Whitney identified three of the biggest trouble spots.
• Prince Street and Texas Street
This is where the median was placed nearly two years ago. The median prevents people from turning left to reach Wal-Mart and the mini-mall that houses a half-dozen other businesses.
The median also, Whitney said, is intended to keep people from crossing all four lanes on one of Prince’s busiest sections.
“They’re making the right turn and then they’re making the wide left around the other side,” Whitney said. “Some people go right over the top of it, as evidenced by the tire tracks.”
• McDonald’s on 14th Street
There are three locally-owned McDonald’s restaurants in Clovis, all either new (Prince Street) or recently remodeled (14th, Mabry).
But the 14th Street location is the only one surrounded by two-lane roads, so traffic can stack up.
“The reason that (no left turn) sign is up there is people sit there and wait,” Whitney said. “It holds up the traffic through the light, and causes a traffic jam. People will ignore that sign and do it anyway.”
The restaurant also has entrances along 13th Street and Mitchell Street to compensate. The changes were made, Whitney said, with input from the city when the restaurant was renovated.
• Left from Prince into Walgreen’s
The sign I was told was there? It is right there. However, there’s a chance for confusion if a driver doesn’t know better; they could think it’s actually addressing drivers at the Advance Auto Parts parking lot on the other side of Prince.
“It’s also illegal to turn left onto Prince from the Walgreen’s parking lot,” Whitney said. I thought to myself, “It’s also suicidal.”
• “U” should know
Whitney added one more thing: In a business district (mainly Prince and 21st streets), it’s illegal to make a U-turn.
“I’ve never seen that,” I said.
“Oh, I have,” Whitney says with a laugh.
• Why do this story?
$71, that’s why. That’s the stated penalty for a moving violation, Whitney said. The ticket can be higher if an accident is caused.
That’s an expensive cost for a turn you didn’t know what illegal; never mind the inconvenience of knocking out your morning to go talk to the judge about it.