The Citizen‘s David Reevely had a quick word with Mayor Jim Watson at the end of a scrum today. Mr. Watson commented that as he drove into the city this morning, his was the only car in the High Occupancy Vehicle lane. Everyone else, it seemed, was the only person in their car.
“Who else was in the car with you?” I asked him at the end of the scrum. His driver, he said. Nobody else.
“He counts!” Watson said. “He’s a human being. Should he ride on the roof?” And sure, yes, two people in the car means they’re following the rules.
As Mr. Reevely notes, this is not in keeping with the spirit of HOV lanes. There was no reduction in emissions through carpooling, just a well-paid politician being chauffered around.
Mr. Watson has not carved out a profile of an out-of-touch politician since he became Mayor. He is eminently approachable and appears to want to connect with the people of this city. Unfortunately, his use of HOV lanes betrays this persona. It paints the picture of a privileged politician with a sense of entitlement. It makes it appear that he just doesn’t get it.
Years ago, a friend came back in town for a few days, and my wife and I offered him a couch on which to sleep. At the time, we were living in Orleans. As these visits tend to go, the night began at a downtown watering hole, The Manx, if memory serves. It was a long ride along the 95 to get back to our townhouse in the suburbs, much of which passed through the greenbelt. Our friend, Jon, used to live in Ottawa, having attended Carleton University, but I don’t think he was used to the suburbs. He remarked that there was so much empty space in what purports to be a major Canadian metropolis.
Reading that the bike lanes on Laurier experienced a spike in usage in the last part of 2012 is heartwarming. Granted, Ottawa’s traffic concerns are not at the level of larger cities like Toronto, but, regardless, giving our roads some relief by lessening the number of cars is beneficial. And, despite all our griping, we have an above average mass transit system in OC Transpo. However, I still can’t help but think that the value OC Transpo offers is, in the end, detrimental to ourselves and our environment. Continue reading