Beware of Dog, or, Allan Hubley and the Bart Simpson Approach to Street Safety

Beware of Dog signs have always seemed completely messed up, at least in the city. They’re a warning and an attempt to shift liability: enter at your own risk. What you’re really saying when you put up that sign is, “I’m keeping an inappropriately dangerous animal that could easily harm other people.” It’s an admission of guilt.

On that note, Kanata South Councillor Allan Hubley tweeted:

Screen Shot 2016-07-19 at 11.16.15 PM

I saw this this afternoon, and wasn’t sure what to think about it (other than to note Hubley’s pointed shot at “cyclists”). My gut feeling was that it was a pretty crappy thing to do, to build what really looked like a crossing and then tell people to go away.

Luckily, Hubley decided to save me some time investigating. When called out on this, Hubley responded:

Screen Shot 2016-07-19 at 11.19.35 PM

Here’s what his tweet is saying: the city, and Hubley, are knowingly building and maintaining unsafe bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, and instead of fixing it, they’re trying shift blame on to the people who will be victims of this malicious street design.

This is a cold, callous and irresponsible way to run a city.

This isn’t about safety, and this isn’t about providing wayfinding as Hubley might want to claim. This is about saving money and evading responsibility. A good representative, one who cares about safety more than dollars, might say, “this is a good temporary measure until we get lights at this crossing,” but no, this is about city liability, not providing safe infrastructure.

I mean, I get it, when you’re shirking your responsibility, you don’t then want to be held responsible.

This is what they call a Kinsley Gaffe (thanks to my friend Will for reminding me of the term):

A Kinsley gaffe occurs when a political gaffe reveals some truth that a politician did not intend to admit. The term comes from journalist Michael Kinsley, who said, “A gaffe is when a politician tells the truth – some obvious truth he isn’t supposed to say.”

Judging by his evasive responses, he let slip a truth he wanted to keep hidden.

But, you know, even if the installation of this sign isn’t a cynical ploy by liability-evading misanthropes, it’ still a pretty shitty thing to do. It is completely contemptuous of residents. It’d still be a situation where the city built half the necessary infrastructure and then basically told people to eat it.

This whole thing reminds me of an old episode of The Simpsons:

We’re going to build this dangerous path, and if you get hurt or killed, it’s your own fault.

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