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  #1  
Old 11-22-2011, 10:25 PM
OpalCat OpalCat is offline
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Is it illegal/ticketable to cut through a parking lot to avoid a traffic light?

I was told that it was, a long time ago, but I don't remember who told me or how credible they were. If you are at an intersection at a red light, but there is a parking lot at that intersection with entrance/exits onto both streets, and you are turning onto said street, is it illegal to cut across the parking lot?

I also heard that if you stop your car and open the door you're clear from getting a ticket since you can claim you were checking for a flat or something.
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  #2  
Old 11-22-2011, 10:52 PM
Lacunae Matata Lacunae Matata is online now
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I guess it depends on the jurisdiction, but I'd suspect that one could be ticketed for trespassing? I recall a long-ago co-worker getting a ticket for cutting through a gas station lot back in college, but he was such a butt that I just thought "karma's a bitch." I never asked him the actual charge or outcome. (And he was probably zooming through the parking lot and didn't slow down or signal on re-entering the roadway, so he could have faced any number of citations.)

Bear in mind that I remembered that well enough that, at my previous job, I asked one local cop and my husband whether I could get a ticket for cutting through an adjacent business' lot on my way home at 7 am. (Waiting at the light was usually a long delay, behind a gazillion people turning left toward the city. Cutting through the parking lot meant a quick right turn for me, with almost no traffic going in my direction.) Two police officers concurred that a ticket was technically possible, but highly unlikely for someone not driving like an idiot or causing problems for other customers at that business.
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  #3  
Old 11-22-2011, 10:55 PM
Lord Feldon Lord Feldon is online now
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It's illegal in at least once city in Ohio.
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  #4  
Old 11-22-2011, 11:20 PM
Jackmannii Jackmannii is offline
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Originally Posted by Lord Feldon View Post
Yes, Westerville has a history of being famous for prohibiting things (it played a prominent role in the history of Prohibition, being at one time the headquarters of the Anti-Saloon League, and was known as the Dry Capital Of The World).
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  #5  
Old 11-22-2011, 11:20 PM
Skammer Skammer is offline
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I had an old roommate who cut through a mall parking lot to get to the opposite cross-street and was pulled over and ticketed for "avoiding a traffic control device" (stoplight) or something similar. This was in the Chicago suburbs.
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  #6  
Old 11-22-2011, 11:22 PM
needscoffee needscoffee is offline
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We had to look that up last year when my kid was in Drivers Ed. Where I live, it's legal unless the city/town specifically has a regulation against it. Our city doesn't have anything against it but 2 small nearby suburbs (out of many) do.
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  #7  
Old 11-23-2011, 12:04 AM
Shmendrik Shmendrik is offline
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Here's a slightly bigger jurisdiction than Westerville which prohibits it:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Illinois Compiled Statutes
(b) It is unlawful for any person to leave the roadway and travel across private property to avoid an official traffic control device.
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  #8  
Old 11-23-2011, 12:44 AM
echoreply echoreply is offline
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(Not bothering to look up the statute) In Colorado there is such a traffic law. You must stop in the parking lot someplace other than a stop sign or the exit of the parking lot, or you are guilty of avoiding a traffic control device, or some such.

If I am coming to work from a certain street it is much faster to make a left into a gas station, and then exit through the rear of the gas station onto the street adjoining my work's parking lot. I rarely go that way, but when I do, I always make sure to come to a complete stop in front of a gas pump, and then proceed, so I'm technically fulfilling the requirements of the Colorado law. "Your honor, once I pulled up and saw that gas was $.15 higher than the station down the street, I just decided to fill up on the way home from work, yeah, that's the ticket."
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  #9  
Old 11-23-2011, 02:03 AM
gatorslap gatorslap is offline
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It's legal in California, according to the traffic school I took last year.
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  #10  
Old 11-23-2011, 02:10 AM
ProbablyProcrastinating ProbablyProcrastinating is offline
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I know in WA it's illegal to use a parking lot to turn around. :P

What if you forget to get in the right lane in time, but still have room to get into the parking lot, and then just decide to go on through? In other words, if you aren't trying to avoid the light, but have to go right and that's your only option?
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  #11  
Old 11-23-2011, 02:12 AM
Senegoid Senegoid is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gatorslap View Post
It's legal in California, according to the traffic school I took last year.
I have seen drivers ticketed for this in California. Granted, this was many many years ago. I don't know if there's a statewide law, or local laws, or if that might have just been the usual sort of case of cops making up the law on the spot.

At a certain intersection in my town, the left turn light only lets 3 to 4 cars through at a time, although it's a busy intersection often with 10 cars (often including mine) waiting to turn left there. I found that it's faster to drive straight through the intersection and make a U-turn at the next little side-street, then return to the intersection and turn right. And every time I do that, the same cars in the left-turn lane are still waiting there.
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  #12  
Old 11-23-2011, 04:15 AM
Qwakkeddup Qwakkeddup is offline
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My friend from way back when received a ticket for avoiding an official traffic control one night for cutting through a gas station parking lot.

It was a narrow road with parking on both sides, packed snow on the road, plus ice and flowing water where the water main had ruptured.

A waterworks truck was in front of him, stopped and started closing the road.

After getting ticketed by the officer, said friend went back to the crew truck and asked them for a note telling the conditions and fact of the road closing.

As I understood it though, the Judge looked at the ticket, looked at my friend, said dismissed.
Didn't even ask for an explanation.
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  #13  
Old 11-23-2011, 04:52 AM
gatorslap gatorslap is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Senegoid View Post
I have seen drivers ticketed for this in California. Granted, this was many many years ago. I don't know if there's a statewide law, or local laws, or if that might have just been the usual sort of case of cops making up the law on the spot.
Well, you can be ticketed for things like "unsafe maneuver" which can pretty much mean anything. But I'm pretty sure that legally entering and exiting a parking lot doesn't become an illegal move because there happens to be a traffic light in the vicinity. And anyway my traffic school specifically said that such a thing was allowed, although I don't remember exactly how they framed it.
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  #14  
Old 11-23-2011, 07:30 AM
Telemark Telemark is offline
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Illegal in MA, for avoiding a traffic signal.
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  #15  
Old 11-23-2011, 07:35 AM
obfusciatrist obfusciatrist is offline
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I hope it is illegal just because I like the image of a judge saying "I declare thee an Esso Asso" and banging his gavel.
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  #16  
Old 11-23-2011, 07:37 AM
kevrlill kevrlill is offline
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Illegal in NJ. "Operating a motor vehicle on public or private property to avoid a traffic control signal or sign"

It's a minor violation. 2 points where you need 12 points total to get license suspended.

Last edited by kevrlill; 11-23-2011 at 07:39 AM..
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  #17  
Old 11-23-2011, 07:43 AM
Sailboat Sailboat is offline
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It was made illegal in Virginia a few years back, I recall the publicity.
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  #18  
Old 11-23-2011, 08:08 AM
Bill Door Bill Door is offline
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In New York State it is ticketable according to Section 1225 of New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law.

Section 1225. Avoiding intersection or traffic control device. No person shall drive across or upon a sidewalk, driveway, parking lot or private property, or otherwise drive off a roadway, in order to avoid an intersection or traffic control device.
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  #19  
Old 11-23-2011, 08:36 AM
Shniru Shniru is offline
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It's illegal in Texas . . . I thought it was called "cutting corners." That's how I got my first ticket, when I was in highschool.
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  #20  
Old 11-23-2011, 08:52 AM
Max Torque Max Torque is online now
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Yeah, in Texas it's at Transportation Code section 545.423, under the heading "Crossing Property". The statute reads:
Quote:
(a) An operator may not cross a sidewalk or drive through a driveway, parking lot, or business or residential entrance without stopping the vehicle.

(b) An operator may not cross or drive in or on a sidewalk, driveway, parking lot, or business or residential entrance at an intersection to turn right or left from one highway to another highway.
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  #21  
Old 11-23-2011, 09:55 AM
Iggins Iggins is offline
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It was illegal in OR, at least at one time - 1990 or so. I got out of the ticket because my crappy car was about to die at the stop light, so I cut through the lot to avoid coming to a complete stop, and the officer took that as good enough reason.
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  #22  
Old 11-23-2011, 10:14 AM
Acsenray Acsenray is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sailboat View Post
It was made illegal in Virginia a few years back, I recall the publicity.
I wish it were enforced more stringently. There's a bank I go where cars are constantly cutting through to avoid having to stop at the traffic light and there have been several instances in which I was almost hit by one of those speeding cutters, either while I was in my car or on foot.
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  #23  
Old 11-23-2011, 10:48 AM
ZenBeam ZenBeam is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ProbablyProcrastinating View Post
What if you forget to get in the right lane in time, but still have room to get into the parking lot, and then just decide to go on through? In other words, if you aren't trying to avoid the light, but have to go right and that's your only option?
How are you in the right lane in time to turn into a parking lot, but not in time to turn at the corner? The corner would be past the entrance to the parking lot.

Piling on, but illegal in Ann Arbor, MI as well. Not sure if it's a city or state law.

Last edited by ZenBeam; 11-23-2011 at 10:48 AM..
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  #24  
Old 11-23-2011, 10:55 AM
BlinkingDuck BlinkingDuck is offline
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Originally Posted by Skammer View Post
I had an old roommate who cut through a mall parking lot to get to the opposite cross-street and was pulled over and ticketed for "avoiding a traffic control device" (stoplight) or something similar. This was in the Chicago suburbs.
Friend of mine had the same...in Minnesota.
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  #25  
Old 11-23-2011, 11:11 AM
Sailboat Sailboat is offline
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Found a citation: Virginia Driver's Manual (Section 2: Signals, Signs and Pavement Markings) [Warning: .pdf]

Quote:
It is illegal to avoid these traffic controls by cutting through a parking lot or field.
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  #26  
Old 11-23-2011, 12:58 PM
jtgain jtgain is offline
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What about:

Sorry officer, I turned into this (gas station, strip mall, empty lot) in order to (get gas, shop at the plaza, read a map) and then realized that (the gas station close to home has better prices, the stores are closed, realized where I was at when I saw the crossing street).

?
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  #27  
Old 11-23-2011, 01:16 PM
ZenBeam ZenBeam is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jtgain View Post
Sorry officer, I turned into this (gas station, strip mall, empty lot) in order to (get gas, shop at the plaza, read a map) and then realized that (the gas station close to home has better prices, the stores are closed, realized where I was at when I saw the crossing street).
Quote:
Originally Posted by Police Officer
Tell it to the judge. Here you go, have a nice day.


..
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  #28  
Old 11-23-2011, 03:53 PM
barbitu8 barbitu8 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shmendrik View Post
Here's a slightly bigger jurisdiction than Westerville which prohibits it:
This is also the law in SC. Not surprisingly, since this is in the Uniform Motor Vehicle Act, which is fairly uniform in all the states.
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  #29  
Old 11-23-2011, 03:54 PM
OpalCat OpalCat is offline
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Interesting to hear different locations' takes on it. I seemed to remember that it was illegal (at least in AZ where I grew up and learned to drive) but couldn't remember where I heard it, or if I just imagined it.
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  #30  
Old 11-23-2011, 10:46 PM
Elendil's Heir Elendil's Heir is offline
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It's illegal in Cleveland, Ohio, too, and is charged as "Shortcutting at intersections," punishable by a $150 fine and two points against your license. I believe it's a violation of the Ohio Revised Code, too, but I've never seen it charged under that, just under the local ordinance.
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  #31  
Old 11-24-2011, 05:01 PM
Avarie537 Avarie537 is offline
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Yes, it's illegal in Indiana. There's a locksmith on a busy corner near my house that went so far as to installed concrete pylons in the parking lot to keep people from using it as a pass-through.
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  #32  
Old 11-24-2011, 05:16 PM
Saint Cad Saint Cad is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by echoreply View Post
(Not bothering to look up the statute) In Colorado there is such a traffic law. You must stop in the parking lot someplace other than a stop sign or the exit of the parking lot, or you are guilty of avoiding a traffic control device, or some such.

If I am coming to work from a certain street it is much faster to make a left into a gas station, and then exit through the rear of the gas station onto the street adjoining my work's parking lot. I rarely go that way, but when I do, I always make sure to come to a complete stop in front of a gas pump, and then proceed, so I'm technically fulfilling the requirements of the Colorado law. "Your honor, once I pulled up and saw that gas was $.15 higher than the station down the street, I just decided to fill up on the way home from work, yeah, that's the ticket."
CRS, Title 42 doesn't seem to have this law of which you speak
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  #33  
Old 11-24-2011, 10:27 PM
Ruby Ruby is offline
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Having owned a gas station on the corner of a very busy intersection, I'm damn glad that it's illegal. If anyone could "cut the corner", the merchant would have extra liability for the safety of their patrons as well as increased asphalt maintenance.
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  #34  
Old 11-24-2011, 11:05 PM
echoreply echoreply is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Saint Cad View Post
CRS, Title 42 doesn't seem to have this law of which you speak
It turns out what I was thinking of is part of the Boulder Revised Code, Chapter 7-4 Section 9.
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  #35  
Old 11-25-2011, 03:16 AM
Ostrya Ostrya is offline
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Illegal in MI, like ZenBeam said.

Last edited by Ostrya; 11-25-2011 at 03:19 AM..
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  #36  
Old 11-25-2011, 04:56 PM
Bear_Nenno Bear_Nenno is offline
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Illegal in Florida. "Avoiding traffic control device."
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  #37  
Old 11-25-2011, 05:03 PM
OpalCat OpalCat is offline
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For those places where it's confirmed illegal: Can you circumvent the law by stopping the car and opening the door, then closing it and continuing on, which was what I was told was necessary to get around the law in AZ?
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  #38  
Old 11-25-2011, 07:23 PM
Acsenray Acsenray is offline
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No law can be circumvented so easily. If the cop thinks you were trying to fool him, he'll give you a ticket and let you explain to the judge what you were doing.
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  #39  
Old 11-25-2011, 08:47 PM
Diceman Diceman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ZenBeam View Post
How are you in the right lane in time to turn into a parking lot, but not in time to turn at the corner? The corner would be past the entrance to the parking lot.

Piling on, but illegal in Ann Arbor, MI as well. Not sure if it's a city or state law.
I'm pretty sure there's a state law that bans "circumventing a traffic control device" or words to that effect. And driving through someone's parking lot to avoid the light is pretty much what they had in mind when they wrote the law.
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  #40  
Old 11-25-2011, 11:04 PM
echoreply echoreply is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OpalCat View Post
For those places where it's confirmed illegal: Can you circumvent the law by stopping the car and opening the door, then closing it and continuing on, which was what I was told was necessary to get around the law in AZ?
The Boulder law I referred to says you've committed an offense if you cut through a parking lot without making a stop off of the street in addition to and before the stop required by section 7-4-15 "Stop Before Entering Street Required." So I think in Boulder, Colorado you don't even have to open your door. The cop might say to you, "tell it to the judge," but it looks pretty easy to adhere to the word of the law, even if you're violating the spirit. Clearly the intention is that you stop in the parking lot because you have business there, but it doesn't say that. Not having any experience with traffic court, I have no idea if a ticket would stick, even if you could prove (surveillance video, or some such) that you made the required complete stop, even though your real purpose of entering the parking lot was to cut through.
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  #41  
Old 11-25-2011, 11:06 PM
Plan B Plan B is offline
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For years I've been cutting through a specific gas station which enables me to avoid two lights. When my wife is with me I always drive up to a gas pump, pause, say something like "Too expensive" and keep going.
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  #42  
Old 11-26-2011, 08:05 AM
What the .... ?!?! What the .... ?!?! is offline
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Is there a distinction between a traffic light and a stop sign? Are both "devices"??
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  #43  
Old 11-26-2011, 08:29 AM
Acsenray Acsenray is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by What the .... ?!?! View Post
Is there a distinction between a traffic light and a stop sign? Are both "devices"??
It's dependent on individual state laws, but in most (all?) cases, either both will be defined as "traffic control devices" or the law will state that it applies to both "devices and signs."

For example, the Ohio Revised Code definition:

Quote:
(QQ) “Traffic control devices” means all flaggers, signs, signals, markings, and devices placed or erected by authority of a public body or official having jurisdiction, for the purpose of regulating, warning, or guiding traffic, including signs denoting names of streets and highways.
Under this definition, a person standing in the street directing traffic is also a "traffic control device."

Last edited by Acsenray; 11-26-2011 at 08:29 AM..
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  #44  
Old 11-27-2011, 01:14 PM
Ruby Ruby is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Plan B View Post
For years I've been cutting through a specific gas station which enables me to avoid two lights. When my wife is with me I always drive up to a gas pump, pause, say something like "Too expensive" and keep going.
Seriously? The laws weren't made for "every one else". There's a good reason cars are to stay on the public thoroughfares and not cutting through private property. How would you feel about this if you were the merchant?
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  #45  
Old 11-27-2011, 04:35 PM
BigT BigT is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruby View Post
Seriously? The laws weren't made for "every one else". There's a good reason cars are to stay on the public thoroughfares and not cutting through private property. How would you feel about this if you were the merchant?
I don't know about him, but as long as no one else was around, I wouldn't care at all. I'd care more about you running a red light than I would about someone driving across my property on a part that's supposed to be driven on.

If I did care, then no one would be allowed to turn around on my driveway, either.
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  #46  
Old 11-27-2011, 06:49 PM
Ruby Ruby is offline
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Originally Posted by BigT View Post
I don't know about him, but as long as no one else was around, I wouldn't care at all. I'd care more about you running a red light than I would about someone driving across my property on a part that's supposed to be driven on.

If I did care, then no one would be allowed to turn around on my driveway, either.
bolding mine.

I'm probably more sensitive to this because we owned a corner gas station lot at one of the busiest intersections in the city. As the property owner, I had to make sure my lot was clear of debris, snow, potholes as a cost of doing business. I didn't get tax dollars for resurfacing or striping like the city does.

We also aren't talking about an occasional car cutting the corner at 2am like you would find turning around in your driveway. By the admission of Plan B, he's been doing this practice for years and if it cuts out 2 traffic lights, I'd guess it is a constant stream of traffic in this merchant's lot.

I'll quit nagging but will leave you with the plea to please be considerate of your business owners. We're not all mega-corps with huge profit margins and this kind of disrespect actually cuts into the money that puts food on our tables, just like your job.
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  #47  
Old 11-28-2011, 12:05 AM
Lucretia Lucretia is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruby View Post
bolding mine.

I'm probably more sensitive to this because we owned a corner gas station lot at one of the busiest intersections in the city. As the property owner, I had to make sure my lot was clear of debris, snow, potholes as a cost of doing business. I didn't get tax dollars for resurfacing or striping like the city does.

We also aren't talking about an occasional car cutting the corner at 2am like you would find turning around in your driveway. By the admission of Plan B, he's been doing this practice for years and if it cuts out 2 traffic lights, I'd guess it is a constant stream of traffic in this merchant's lot.

I'll quit nagging but will leave you with the plea to please be considerate of your business owners. We're not all mega-corps with huge profit margins and this kind of disrespect actually cuts into the money that puts food on our tables, just like your job.
I think if I was a merchant, I'd be pretty good with a constant stream of traffic in my lot. At least a few of these people are going to, since they're right there anyway, stop for gas, run in to grab smokes, etc. So long as the traffic isn't so heavy as to impede other customers, I'm not seeing the downside.
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  #48  
Old 11-28-2011, 03:31 AM
barbitu8 barbitu8 is offline
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Originally Posted by Lucretia View Post
I think if I was a merchant, I'd be pretty good with a constant stream of traffic in my lot. At least a few of these people are going to, since they're right there anyway, stop for gas, run in to grab smokes, etc. So long as the traffic isn't so heavy as to impede other customers, I'm not seeing the downside.
Ruby told you the downside: wear and tear of the surface and interference with customers. Drivers who cut across gas stations (and other private property) are doing so to evade a light. Hence, they are in a hurry and are not going to stop for gas or goodies.
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  #49  
Old 11-28-2011, 06:00 AM
Frylock Frylock is offline
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Originally Posted by gatorslap View Post
It's legal in California, according to the traffic school I took last year.
You're not in Orange County are you?

When I did traffic school there, almost the whole thing was taken up with a semi-retired sheriff telling us all the things we thought were illegal that (at least in OC) aren't. Like driving barefoot, changing lanes in an intersection, cutting through parking lots, etc.
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  #50  
Old 11-28-2011, 06:37 AM
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I used to do something similar in Northern Virginia. I worked at an industrial park just north of Dulles International Airport. To get back in towards town (DC), you either had to take the toll road or a free Dulles Access Road (which had no exits for about 15 miles). The latter also had noticably less traffic. I could enter the airport property on the north side, make a couple of turns, then be on the Access Road fairly quickly. But, since you were supposed to have airport business to use the AR, they'd often follow cars from the northern entrance to see if they did anything at the airport before exiting.

I started either stopping at the post office to mail a letter, or at the Exxon at the airport. Even the minute or two I spent there was enough to be officially doing business at the airport, and I'd get on the AR with no hassles.
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