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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

The Quantum Intersection

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HALIFAX – The city is home to some of the most unique intersections in the world, but none is so unique as Chebucto and Windsor. If you have nothing better to do during morning rush hour, stroll over to the Good Food Emporium, have a coffee, and watch the chaos unfold.

This intersection is on a list somewhere in a filing cabinet for city staff to eventually redesign. I say that would be a tragedy. If we want to attract tourists and talent to Halifax, we need to preserve those aspects of our heritage that make us like nowhere else in the world—and insane traffic planning sets us apart like nothing else.

Some express concern about the safety of the intersection, but by following a simple set of rules it should pose no risk. Instead of ripping up pavement, let’s put the following guide in the Driver’s Manuals.

East on CunardGoing right-left-straight from Chebucto to Cunard

A. First: choose which turn signal to use. Now, you may wonder, “Am I going right, left, or straight?”

The answer? All three! You may do as you like with your turn signal because it will not mean anything anyways! (Fun morning game: take bets on who will choose which).

B. You are now going straight on Windsor, and also, somehow, straight onto Cunard. Savour the moment: you may now legally turn left on a red light. (Or, feel free to stop at the red wondering when or how you are supposed to turn left, as this will entertain onlookers).

Turning Right onto Windsor from Chebucto

So you have turned and now you are going straight South on Windsor. You may wonder, “Why is there a red light in front of me?” Never fear. That is a “fake” red light. Go ahead, there is nothing to get in your way.

Wait stop! Pedestrian! I forgot the pedestrians—and so does one driver every ten minutes

Remember the rule: there are no pedestrians when you are driving green-right-red-left-straight, but there are pedestrians when driving green-right-red-straight.Going straight-right from Cunard to Chebucto

Driving West from Cunard to Chebucto

To enjoy this intersection to its fullest, try passing on yellow, so that North traffic will start, and you will be stranded in the centre lane blocking buses and cars lined up on Windsor. Enjoy your time here in this space outside of social and legal norms, and reflect on the choices that brought you here.

Turning South From Cunard

Question. Does that guy in front of you going left-right-straight have priority?

Turning South from Cunard

Answer. It depends on the turn signal your opponent has chosen:

  • None: He/she is going straight and has priority.
  • Left: I don’t know how we got here, but you are both apparently turning left and have equal priority. So… gun it!
  • Right: You may be thinking: “Wait…what?…How?” as you should be. Nudge forward uncommittedly.

Once you see an opportunity to get through, floor it and get out of there.

Wait! Stop! Pedestrians! Sorry, keep forgetting that crosswalk.

Biking West or East on Cunard

First, come to a complete stop. Second, make a safe u-turn and proceed to City Hall. Third, lobby for a bikeable intersection. Fourth, become disillusioned. Fifth, purchase a motor vehicle. Sixth, try again.

Bikng North-South on Windsor

There is a bike lane on both the North and South sides of the intersection. What happens to it, and the bikes it carries, is currently a mystery, and so more research is needed before we can provide instruction on how to navigate it safely. If you or anyone you know has made it through, please contact Planning and Infrastructure and report where you went and what you saw there.


Be careful. The cars around you are having an identity crisis. They do not know who, what or where they are, and are known to accelerate suddenly to escape the uncertainty.

Keep the Quantum Intersection

As you can see, the intersection is perfectly safe, and city staff should save their money for whatever other apparently more chaotic priorities they have to work on. This intersection is a gem, a unique livable experiment in space and time, and a potential tourist attraction.

Chebucto and Windsor is perhaps the only place in the world where people may experience the strange reality of quantum physics directly. Ever wonder what it is like to be simultaneously an “up” and “down” particle? Curious how to travel when everything is moving based on probability? Try turning right-left-straight onto Cunard and feel the magic. What is it like to experience the life-death uncertainty of Schrödinger’s Cat? Enjoy that crosswalk!

We should be investing in this intersection as a destination for school trips. If we simplify it, we will wipe away in one swoop this learning opportunity, this chance for creativity in our driving, and the heritage view-plain from the Good Food Emporium.

Tell city staff to keep the Quantum Intersection!



  1. I think this would be the perfect place to experiment with that new movement in the Netherlands where they simply take all the traffic lights and signs out and let people figure it out for themselves. The BMW drivers will still be asshats, and the Honda Civic drivers will still be, well, civil. But people will be forced to slow down, which will inevitably save lives.

  2. I love this intersection !
    I like how, if you want to turn left (west) onto Chebucto, you enter the intersection and pass the cars coming towards you before turning left 🙂

  3. And, if you are on a green light from Cunard to Chebucto (going right-straight-turning left) you have ROW over the crosswalk.

  4. Don’t forget the intersections that you can’t even -run- across before they come “do not cross” signs. Looking at you quinpool and robie. Really fucking cool being gunned down by traffic when you started walking -the instant- the sign changed to walk.

  5. No seriously. I walk to work at the hospital every morning. What is this bullshit. You literally cannot cross quinpool and robie in the time it takes for people to start turning left on the green. I’ve seen them “race”, with the bus’s just to make that left on green before they get the fucking signal arrow. Like honestly. You get a fucking signal arrow and you still can’t wait?

  6. Brilliant analysis and writing! Maybe a booklet idea in the making: series of these unique Halifax scenarios. On a much simpler level, why is an aqua lake called Chocolate Lake?

  7. Promote it. Halifax’s answer to “Magnetic Hill”; better than the tidal bore; scarier than Cape Split after a six pack; second only to “Visit Stewiacke and Experience being Equidistant from the North Pole and the Equator!” (like the 1,2,3…infinity other points on the earth.)

  8. You left out left turns from Windsor either direction on to Chebucto or Cunard where you have to “cross-over” on coming traffic and then drive through the line of traffic to make the left. You can always tell who is new to the intersection by watching people try to make “normal” left hand turns off of Windsor.

  9. Actually what I find interesting in Halifax is the love affair this city seems to have with 5-way intersections. There’s one right near my house, which has the additional difficulty of being entirely located on a blind crest.

  10. And don’t forget that the lucky drivers that make it through the Quantum Intersection may then have the opportunity to experience Quantum Tunneling at the Disappearing Turning Lane of the Windsor Street Exchange.

    Or Cyclists can attempt Transitory Vibration of their molecules to pass through the parked cars in the bicycle lane near the Halifax Forum.

    Of course, pedestrians may not survive the Invisible Crosswalk just north of the Quantum Intersection, and sadly miss out on all the Physics’ Fun!

  11. You forgot the MOST confusing part for most people. When opposing cars on Windsor, both want to turn left. There’s inevitably someone who either establishes 6 inches past their “own” crosswalk, and tries to do the normal “left-turn in front of the other car doing so”. There’s equal numbers of people who drive past opposing left-turner, in order to be able to ACTUALLY turn on to the other street.

    If you are left turning from Windsor to Chebucto, and you try to turn in front of your doppelganger, you end up having to drive into oncoming traffic, to be able to get to the road. If you try to turn AFTER your doppelganger, you end up having to cut through a line of idiots who are double/triple establishing; Which causes gridlock.

  12. There are no City Planners in this City anyway! “Planners” implies a “plan”. That said, clearly there was a Seminar recently attended by ALL Nova Scotia Municipalities entitled “Roundabouts are the Solution to EVERY Intersection” as this seems to be the ONLY plan for anything they are working on of late. I guess they must think that every citizen who remembers the old MicMac Rotary, and that eternal fiasco known as the Armdale rotary have all lost our memories of what a cluster-%^$# those were, as these Roundabouts (I guess they thought renaming rotaries as roundabouts would lead us to believe that is not exactly the same thing) have completely taken over. I think there are 9 of them just to get on or off the 102 at Larry Uteck, and a non issue intersection (the one by the Armoury) needed to be updated to a ROUND-ABOUT! My money is on this Windsor/Cunard/Chebucto intersection being converted into a Roundabout by the end of 2015. It must have been an exceptionally overwhelming Seminar – I have this vision of the Simpsons “Monorail” Seminar!!

  13. Windsor/Cunard/Chebucto is the kind of intersection that provides a definition of ‘local’… Maple and Ochterloney in Dartmouth is another… the locals ignore the painted lines and courteously move over toward their left to create a special ‘right turn up Maple’ lane.

  14. Tristan’s article is a hoot – thanks, Tristan – as for the intersection, it is a local entertainment worth keeping – as for Brapbrap – you seem to be adjective-ly challenged – work on it.

  15. When it comes to city planning, Halifax is the asscrack of Canada and the city designers are direct products of that asscrack. You can’t expect them to know shit when they come from shit central.

  16. Sorry, Can’t Be Done

    Halifax has too many weird intersections! They would all need inclusion in the Driver’s Manual. And each would need a refresher before entering a weird intersection.

    Where could all those new ‘driver-thru’ schools go? (2 to 5 schools per weird intersection, is Halifax the only place that can make a straight section of road into an intersection?) ‘Local’ knowledge would be needed for each! As ‘Fructrated by City Reactors’ states, planners are not getting thier only solution – Rotary – RIGHT !!! Did they learn from the ‘Pick-A-Dillie-Circus Academy’?

    As for the “Quantum Intersection”, could the city put in a convenience store & undercut Needs. They might be able to fix that problematic intersection or start sometime during the 21century. Could be a land swap might work.

    ↘ ➡ ↗ ⬅ planning ⛔ 👈