Stop, Except Right Turn

By CJ Rudy, Rides We Like

Rides We Like: Stop, Except Right Turn

Jul 27

(2020) Law, as is my understanding, is to be written in measurable terms accompanied by a definitive line. The thought, “Well they looked like they were going fast,” is not damning in court as, say, “The driver was doing twice the speed limit.” If a person breaks a law, theoretically they are entered into a system of repercussions mirroring the crime. All this is my loose understanding of law, mostly gleaned from multiple episodes of Alaskan State Troopers.

To ride around Bucks County is a host of experiences. As of late, yours truly has been continuing to observe the social distancing scene – doing individual time trials (see: solo rides). One aspect becomes clear in our neck of the woods. We have a weird way of dealing with roads that once went in two directions but then had a different option added on. Ever looking for a story while riding, I had wondered if anyone has quite the collection of signs easily sighted while rolling through the Bucks County countryside. 

Imagine, if you will, a Y intersection. For clarity, imagine the right side of the Y is a road in and of itself. Things are fine until someone in history decides to add the bisecting left line of the Y. For the most part the intersection is fine on account of light traffic and its rural setting. As the area is built up, the main road gets more traffic. Things are still fine until one person decides to make a left and, since there is no stop sign proper to indicate danger, crosses traffic and causes a head-on collision. Hopefully everyone is ok in our example and both drivers get out to argue over whose fault the accident is. 

Much like our roads, Bucks County likes to spot patch things and hope it sticks. Our area has come up with a strange solution that left me wondering how many places in the United States can echo a sign that says, “Stop, except right turn”? And how would I explain this procedure to someone from another country? 

Headquarters Road has a less abrasive Except sign.
Headquarters Road has a less abrasive Except sign.

 

On two rides over two days, I collected no fewer than five stops signs with exceptions. The first signal had a smaller exception sign than normal. It was on a road that essentially dead ends unless one wants to tackle a clay road. What I’m saying is PennDOT probably didn’t put much effort into that ‘Except’ sign. The fact it led to a gravel road probably means there are few – if any – issues at the intersection. The second ‘Except’ sign was the normal affair. Though the main throughway took a hard right; the road continuing onward, again, turned into a gravel nightmare, more suitable for downhill mountain biking. It’s believable most cars whip around the corner instead of crossing to descend to the Delaware River stomping on the brakes and holding on for dear life.

The final ‘Except’ sign cracked me up as I joined a traffic jam in Point Pleasant, PA. Here, out of state motorists, clearly confused by the exception, took it upon themselves to stop at the stop sign and then turn right. It was comical on multiple levels: A cyclist was part of a traffic jam, out-of-staters were clogging the intersection by coming to glorious stops, the locals read the sign and zipped through, and everyone rolled through the next stop sign as if the intersection was furnished with its own ‘Except’ sign. 

The next day I not only saw more ‘Except’ signs, but I identified intersections that should have them. One major road has the potential to have a high-speed collision as a motorist would cross traffic to exit a side road halfway around a blind bend. The exit is a straight line from the crossing traffic. I’m sure many people stomp on the accelerator through this location and provide the neighbors with many close call horn symphonies. 

This all made me wonder how many weird laws are out there. It is an interesting solution to an unique scenario. I translate the sign as to say, “Putting up a real stop sign would cause moving violations on a daily basis. Stop if you’re crossing. Or don’t. We won’t enforce that either. But if you crack up with a car coming, it will automatically be your fault.” All that is said in an authentic sign collection for Bucks County.


I throw a couple challenges out to my cycling audience. First, what strange laws are in your area? And second, how many of these strange laws can be captured in one modest ride with a smartphone? I am no layer but to put the word except into signage muddies the water between measurable and opinion. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn of a court case struggling to decide fault in one of the Except intersections. I also wouldn’t be surprised to hear someone string together thirty of these signs in one ride. Covered Bridges are about as Bucks County as it gets. Stop Except Right Turn is a close second.