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Erik Holmstrom

Erik Holmstrom

Most traffic laws make sense. I am glad we have speed limits, traffic signs, traffic lights and that we don’t let people under age 14 drive in North Dakota. These laws help us move efficiently around our state in a manner that protects public safety. None of us is happy when we are ticketed for violating one of these laws, but we can all understand how these regulations make our lives better.

When I come to an intersection, I do want to know if I need to stop or if I can continue to drive. However, if it is safe to do so the goal should be to allow traffic to flow as freely as possible.

I moved here from Minnesota, and for the most part I have found Bismarck to be a place where the government tries not to interfere in people’s lives. I like that. I enjoy living in a community where people generally trust each other to make the right decision. I just don’t understand why Bismarck doesn’t trust drivers to know enough to look both ways and then make a right turn at a stoplight.

In Minnesota there were very few intersections where a driver couldn’t stop at a red light, check traffic and then turn carefully to the right if it was safe to do so. In Bismarck, it is difficult to drive very far in our city before seeing a large sign reading “no turn on red.”

In Bismarck, our city government seems to think that even at T-style intersections like 19th and Divide that mass carnage would ensue if people were allowed to make right turns on a red light. Coming south on 19th, the only options at this intersection are to turn right or left. The only other traffic at the intersection comes from drivers along Divide. I’ve lived in Bismarck long enough to know that our drivers are smart enough to look both ways before pulling into traffic, yet we are prohibited from doing so.

Bismarck is currently altering some traffic rules to help improve livability and traffic flow. I applaud the city for moving Main Avenue to a two-lane street through the heart of downtown. The elimination of the east/west one-way streets was an improvement for all roadway users. I hope our city fathers will next look at trusting drivers to know enough to look both ways at an intersection before pulling into traffic.

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Erik Holmstrom is a business instructor at United Tribes Technical College, husband and father of four.

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