Gretchen Vogelsang drives in from Pinchi Road every weekday with her two children

Gretchen Vogelsang drives in from Pinchi Road every weekday with her two children

Putting it on paper – Concerned citizen helps develop a drivers code for the area

Gretchen Vogelsang helped to develop a drivers code for Fort St. James area roads after concerns around increased traffic.

The saying goes, common sense isn’t necessarily common knowledge. Or something to that effect.

Gretchen Vogelsang had similar impressions after working for the past five or more months on a “Common Code of Courtesy” for drivers in the area.

Vogelsang began the idea after a few scary drives on her daily commute to and from town on the North Road had her thinking other drivers on the road, both commercial and residential drivers, might be having similar experiences, or similar frustrations.

So she called a meeting with a number of the key players involved in traffic on the route and in the area, from Mount Milligan to logging contractors to forestry and the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.

“I was really looking for their expertise and their knowledge,” said Vogelsang. “Because it was really about resource and domestic, and I am not knowledgable about big traffic.”

So expertise she got, with 35 people giving her feedback and input as she developed the code.

“The licences and the contractors – I can’t even discuss how wonderful they were,” she said.

After around 10 drafts and a lot of emails back and forth, Vogelsang finally had an end product giving area drivers some guidelines to try and adhere to.

“I could not have done it without everybody else,” said Vogelsang.

After all the talk and all of the work, Vogelsang said it really boils down to common sense.

“I think it takes all that work to get everybody’s common bit of sense into one piece of paper, because not everything is common to everybody,” said Vogelsang.

Many of the licences and contractors have committed to having the code in their hiring packages for new employees who may be driving in the area, and Mount Milligan has committed to having the code available in their kiosk at the Rainbow Connector Road.

Two Prince George contractors have even committed to discussing the code at staff meetings.

The new code is one step, and while Voeglsang knows it’s not the “magic bullet” to fix all that is wrong with traffic in the community, she thinks it will help.

“The road is still a serious concern,” said Vogelsang, referring to the recent incidents on the North Road where a grader was stuck. The resulting ruts from the grader were still not fixed a week later, as the paper was going to press last week, resulting in single lane traffic in that particular spot.

With the sheer increase in volume of traffic, principally the large commercial traffic, she knows the process to educate both domestic and commercial traffic will take some time, as the area drivers adjust to the changes and sharing the road with each other.

So far, she has not seen large changes in her drive to work everyday, but there are changes.

“I’ve certainly seen changes in peoples awareness,” said Vogelsang. She gets waves from resources drivers she meets on the road, and feels drivers are watching out for each other a lot more.

“Do I think it’s going to continue to change, ya I do,” she said. “I’m hopeful.”

Common Code of Courtesy:


The responsibility of all traffic in Fort St. James:  pedestrian, cyclist, domestic/tourist, or resource/industry


1.  We all need to “Share the Road”

all groups mentioned above are on area roads at any given time, so expect them

use common sense when using roads:  walk with children curb side,  don’t drive in middle of road, etc.


2.  Be Visible

all traffic (pedestrian included) should be easily identifiable, day or night



3.  Respect the BC Motor Vehicle Act

speed limits, passing, tailgating, cell phone use


4.  Adjust behaviour for weather conditions

weather conditions can be extreme, adjust behaviours accordingly


5.  Know the Area You’re In

inform yourself as to location of industry/resource

inform yourself as to local radio channels that exist to promote safe driving conditions  no radio controlled roads in area.

inform yourself as to potential hazards when planning excursions


Together we can make Fort St. James a safe, profitable place to live, work and visit.


Story on Vogelsang’s initial meeting:

Drivers unite