More Death in our Streets

A man was killed in the Market, today. Driving a scooter, he was doored, run over, apparently dragged and then pinned under a truck. By the time he was freed, he was dead. I am so very angry and so very sad.

Also today, an elderly woman was hit by an OC Transpo bus as she crossed Carling to Carlingwood mall. It’s a horrible intersection. It’s a horrible road. It’s too wide and too fast. The desire for safer streets should not feel so futile.

Currently, I’m not angry at the drivers. I don’t know exactly what happened in each crash. That anger will, no doubt, come later. I’m not angry at politicians who do their best to thwart safety measures, who choose danger over an extra three minutes on a 30-minute commute. That, too, will come, no doubt. Similarly, if the city once again decides that killing someone in the street warrants a thousand dollar fine, that anger will come later, too.

No, I’m angry at the whole damn situation. I’m angry that our city causes so much sadness. I’m angry because we have tools and resources that could limit the carnage. To be clear, I’m not angry because I think we live in a horrible city. I’m angry because I know we don’t. I’m angry because I know Ottawa’s a great city and I know it can be even safer. I’m angry because there are people who are trying, really trying, to improve our streets, and we’re just not getting there.

The city takes some safety measures on our roads. We inch towards Complete Streets, and safe walking and biking infrastructure. We talk about instituting raised intersections and zebra stripes. We test out traffic calming measures (and some of them even work), but generally when push comes to shove, we roll over.

We worry about drivers, and phantom, concern-trolling safety issues. We ignore data and decide we need our own test projects.

And we worry about money. This is why I’m so angry about the way this and the last council are running our city into deficit. This is why I’m so angry about the city holding the line on an unsustainably low tax rate, and about the city foregoing so many revenue streams.

It’s not because I want the city to spend lots of money for the sake of spending money, it’s because this is a wealthy city with tremendous resources and we have the capability to address many of the ills we face.

Sure, there are cities with bigger issues. We’re not riddled with urban decay. We’re not facing bankruptcy. We’re not suffering from massive crime or police brutality.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t make a better city. And it pisses me off to no end when it is suggested that we don’t deserve a better a city.

I fucking love Ottawa, and that’s why I want to see fewer of its residents dead under a truck.

One thought on “More Death in our Streets

  1. I too am so very sad about these two deaths. As a regular cycle commuter and public transit user, I’m well aware of how we have prioritized for cars, though complete streets and LRT are an encouraging trend.

    And while I *hate* talking about money and taxes in the context of a lives-lost story… I challenge that we have an unsustainably low tax rate. Ottawa’s commercial property tax rate is one of the highest in Canada, and our residential property tax rate is not far behind in the rankings. Sure, it is unrealistic to compare tax rates with Vancouver and Toronto who have astronomical property values and much higher densities. They get a hell of a lot more dollars coming in per square kilometre that needs to be serviced. And Ottawa is in a tough situation post amalgamation – we’re huge. That’s a ton of roads that have to be plowed, for example.

    I haven’t looked at the budget in detail, so I’m not in a position to criticize it. But it *feels* like we should be able to do better. However my guess is that there isn’t much easily trimmable fat, and like you, there are line items that I wish we’d spend much more on.

    I would be very interested in reading a post that digs into some of these other revenue streams that the city has elected to forego…. That’s an area I haven’t heard much about.


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