Ottawa truckers and the contempt for the life of others

She wasn’t a girl. She was a woman.

And a crash didn’t claim her life. She was killed by a person…a driver driving a dangerous vehicle…a driver driving dangerously and illegally.

Ron Barr, the president of the Greater Ottawa Truckers Association, went on CBC radio today express is utter disregard for Nusrat Jahan, who was recently run over by a truck driver, as well as bicyclists, in general.

Amid his apologetics for a killer (who has, rightly though perhaps leniently, been criminally charged for killing a person), was his concern for the other victims here, truck drivers:

Any time we hear charges like that, it’s pretty drastic for our industry. … So just to make a mistake and do a right-hand turn, and to have those kind of charges levied, it’s pretty heavy damage.

That is pretty damaging. It’s hard to think of things that could be more damaging to people.

But I guess I can understand where he’s coming from. Truck drivers have been killing people with impunity for years. It must be nice to know that if you’re going to kill someone, you won’t be held accountable for it. In most every day situations, you would be, but we’ve been giving truck drivers (and a lot of motorists) a pass. The can kill and come out of it relatively or completely unscathed.

It must really suck to face responsibility for ending a human life. For stealing a woman’s life and future, and stealing her from her friends and family.

My heart bleeds.

Barr wasn’t really there to talk about–or care about–Nusrat Jahan. He was there to push for his industry to be favoured over everything else. There was no concern for safety or a person’s death. There was no sympathy and no humanity in his words.

He couldn’t find the decency to demonstrate the tiniest bit of respect for others.

Bringing us back to where we started. Barr said:

I believe it’s devastating for our industry because one of our members made a mistake that day. I think it’s devastating for the family of the dead girl, paramedics, just everybody.

(I’m so sorry it was devastating for your industry. I hope your industry survives. Can we send flowers to your industry during this tough time?)

Nusrat Jahan was a women. She was an adult. She was 23 and building a life…but not in Barr’s perspective. She was a girl. She was a child… a female child. She was doing frivolous, childish things. She was riding a toy, being immature. Not like the man driving the truck. Driving a manly vehicle. Doing important manly work. How can we let girls like 23-year-old Nusrat get in the way of men? Why let a girl turn a decent, truck-driving man into a killer?

You can bet if it was my viscera painting the underside of a dump truck, he wouldn’t have called me a boy.

But this isn’t just a disgusting chauvinistic comment from a callous, entitled man–though it certainly is that. He’s contemptuous of people, others, who make choices different than his. Specifically, he’s contemptuous of anyone riding a bike.

What amazes me is that the bikes have precedence over trucks or vehicles. They have those green boxes right at the front of the light. So what I would like to see is that whatever corners that are used to turn right are dealt with a little bit better…Because let’s face it: I never believed that a bike should be equal to a truck.

There’s just so damned much to unpack from this and the rest of his statements. But one thing is clear, he has no regard for bicyclists…for people who ride bikes. He won’t even acknowledge their existence. He refers to these people by the thing they ride, bikes.

Who fucking cares about the respective value of bikes and trucks? Focus on the value of human life. Laws should exist–and theoretically they do–to protect human life, first and foremost. Infrastructure should be built, first and foremost, to protect human life. Our city should be built, first and foremost, to protect and enhance human life.

Business, construction, development, driving…those are a secondary concerns. Those should serve human life, not supercede it.

Barr says he wants to be a part of safety discussions. Well, if he wants to make the city safer, he can write his councillor, write the mayor, join Bike Ottawa.

During this devastating time, he can push to get large trucks off our downtown streets. He can push for his industry, during this devastating time, to make sideguards mandatory. He can push his industry, during this devastating time, to campaign for lower speed limits, a proper bicycle network, wider sidewalks, narrower streets…

But he doesn’t want any of that. He wants to be a part of the process to subvert safety. He wants to institute rules that punish people for riding bikes. He wants laws that endanger bicyclists. He wants streets that are more prone to trucks running over innocent people.

This is a cynical ploy by a callous little man who wants everything tailored to him, even if it means more killing.

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