Re: It is all a bit of a mess @ Trevor
Hitchhiking is illegal because it presents a public danger. Too many idiots trying to hitch on crowded 110 kph motorways, city ring roads, or during rush hour in the middle of the city. It caused accidents which in turn caused a lot of loss of life.
In Alberta we aren't as strict as our neighbours in British Columbia. But Alberta is (mostly) prairie and BC is (mostly) mountains. The highways are 100 kph in most parts of BC and if some dumb twat is pulled over on some bend where there's no shoulder (or on on of the tunnels) then the semi that's 500m behind him just might not be able to stop in time and very well might slam into him. Killing the idiot pulled over and his intended passenger.
In Alberta we don't have as many blind spots, but we absolutely do have "near, at or beyond" capacity major highways. When I say highway understand that I am not talking about "oh, it's a jaunty 30 minutes from some bedroom community to London." I'm talking about "it's 4 hours from Edmonton to Calgary" or "it's 6 hours from Edmonton to Ft Mac." I know truckers and riggers (usually parents going home to see thier kids) that do the whole 13.5 hour haul from Ft Mac to Lethbridge in a day, stopping only in Edmonton and Calgary for gas and to take a piss. this isn't rare, this is our whole goddamned province.
In Alberta, half the drivers are half asleep. They're driving along these great big long stretches of road at 120kph in the slow lane and 140kph in the fast lane on hiways that are 110kph limit. With the exception of "provincial NIMBY day" every three months (which is announced in the papers ahead of time) the cops don't pull anyone over for speeding, they flick on their lights and barrel down the hiway at 160kph to get to the next donut shop.
If you pull over on the side of the road you are dead.
If you go the speed limit (or lower) in the slow lane you'll be run off the road.
If you go the speed limit (or lower) in the fast lane, you'll be run over.
if you have a car problem on the highway, you drive it into the ditch and call the tow truck. We've got nearly 100% cell coverage so you just don't take the risk. The ditches are gentle slope and that's where non-functional cars belong.
Saskatchewan is twice as bad again, because it's even farther between major settlements and it's longer and straighter and flatter.
The cities aren't much better. A family of four might have 5 cars and an RV. One for each adult and teenager, plus a "hauler" (old pickup or candy van) and the RV. Everyone drives everywhere. Edmonton is a city of about a million people with a metro area the same size as London. the city proper - which is about half the size of Greater London, geographically - is functionally bumper-to-bumper traffic at 40kph for 6 hours a day, and not bumper-to-bumper at 70kph the rest of the day.
You don't pull over on the side of the road without backing up traffic for kilometers, potentially getting a ticket and at least getting scalding hot coffee thrown at you by motorists pulling around you.
Now, if you want to pull in to a gas station or something and pick up folk there, nobody is going to hassle you. If you find a roadside turnout or a rest stop (the provinces build rest stops so that people who are so exhausted they are willing to admit they're too tired to drive can park and sleep in their car about every 100km or so) then hey, go ahead and pick up hitchhikers.
But the whole notion of "stick your thumb out on the side of the highway and catch a ride" really only applies on the lightly used rural highways or in the smaller, not crazy-busy-filled-with-angry-bees towns.
Suggestions like "why doesn't everyone just drive slower" are going to be met with derision and laughter. Our provinces are huge, and they are sparsely populated. Our cities are spectacularly low density. There is no such thing as "living without a vehicle" here unless you happen to be willing to confine yourself to one of the "major" cities for almost your whole life. Even then, expect to take at least 1hr to get anywhere, probably 2 or 3, depending on if your journey is all bus or if you can shave some off but taking the LRT.
People get impatient after 30 minutes. Try driving for 4, 6 or 13.5 hours where there is nothing to see. It's just farms and cows and farms and canola and farms and canola and some more cows. The mind wanders. You go loopy. Everyone drives faster than they should.
BC is prettier, but after a while all mountains look alike and the need to get to civilization just so you can pee takes over. Maybe you're a good and courteous driver. Maybe him and her and them all are. But they won't all be. They won't all be awake, or not needing to pee, or paying attention, or courteous or whatever.
So that's hitchhiking here. It's dangerous. Hell, driving period is dangerous. But we've designed our infrastructure and laws to mostly accept the realities of things rather than trying to force our massively diverse populations (a significant % of people in all three provinces weren't born in those provinces, etc) to come to heel.