“Why are you running?”

I like chatting with people running for municipal office. I especially like talking to people who are going to be running in my ward. When I have chance to actually talk to a candidate (not just a Twitter convo), I like to ask them, “why are you running?”

There are lots of answers that I’d deem acceptable. There might be particular policy issues, possibly in the ward or city-wide. There might be a desire for different leadership. There might be a desire for more public consultation or stronger representation at council. Generally unspoken, there will usually be an element of ambition. Yes, it’s good if people feel called to serve their community, but you’ve got to have some ego to feel that you’re the person the ward needs.

There’s also a similar question, often unasked: why you and why not another candidate? If someone with similar views is already running, why are you jumping in?

Thinking about this in terms of diversity and representation at city council, there should be another angle to this question. If you’re a man running against women who hold similar views, why you and not them? If you’re white running against people of colour who hold similar views, why you and not them?

If you believe city council needs better representation than the abundance of middle-class, cis, heterosexual white males we have, why are you, a white guy, running against women or people of colour or members of other under-represented groups?

I’ve already written about why I will be more inclined to vote for a woman than a man, should the two candidates seem to be of similar merit. But now I’m going to take that a step further. If such a situation arises, I’m going to ask the men if they believe council should have better representation, and if so, why, then, are they running?

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$27,600 can’t buy a little common sense

Last week, CBC reporter Joanne Chianello did a series of posts on the spending of local councillors. Their budgets are a quarter of a million dollars and they have few limitations on how their spending. The articles did a good job detailing the various ways the money is being spent, and questioning if it’s all really appropriate (short answer: no).

The reports also did their best to highlight/expose the spending of a wide variety of councillors, picking on no one councillor, exclusively.

Despite the efforts, though, it kind of was the Michael Qaqish show. From buying tickets for sporting events to giant personalized ads on bus shelters, he just kept on popping up.

In terms of the overall city budget, these expenses aren’t actually a big deal, money-wise. The few thousand a councillor wastes on hockey tickets for him and a guest isn’t going to make or break the city’s budget. Spending less on advertising isn’t going to suddenly free up money to properly maintain all our roads and parks. But it’s really a question of common sense, entitlement and respect for the public.

Qaqish’s dumbest, most self-aggrandizing and absolutely-freaking-useless expense was, in fact, only $35.

Qaqish defended his reckless spending by noting that he didn’t accept the parking allowance that all city councillors are offered, thus saving the city $6,900 a year, $27,600 over the course of the term. Great. Excellent.

It was such a nice gesture, Qaqish decided to celebrate it by having a photo op in which he hands over a giant novelty cheque made out to the city:

He expensed the city $35, the cost of making the cheque. Probably should have made it out for $27,565, I guess.

A detour for the Harmer Footbridge project?

There’s a consultation tonight about the Harmer Avenue Pedestrian and Bicycle overpass. The current overpass is pretty old, so they’re going to replace it. Apparently, it’ll be closed for two years and there’s talk of a detour along Holland Avenue. Below is a message I sent to the local councillor and the city staffer. Figured I’d post it her, because, y’know, #content.

You’re totally welcome to steal it, in whole or in part, to send along to city officials, if you want to.

Travelling from the east (the Glebe) to get to the Churchill/Dovercourt/McKellar Park area, my only safe route is to cross at the 417 at Harmer. There is no other connection that doesn’t either force me to mingle with speeding cars or take the sidewalk. Neither of which is ideal. (And, currently, in the winter, I still have to do that.)

I see from the notice that the city is planning a detour along Holland. I am glad to that the city is thinking of this. But I have two questions:

1. Will this be a separated, protected, winter-maintained detour for bicyclists? If it fails on any of those (if it’s just a painted bike lane, sharrows or just Detour signs), then it is not, in fact, a real detour.

2. Will the city be expecting people coming from the east/south, taking the detour north along Holland, to travel all the way up to Byron to continue east, or will there be some sort of cut-through at Fisher Park H.S. just north of the Queensway? Because Byron would be a ridiculously long detour (especially as I am already forced to go far north just to get east-west along Carling).

I have a few suggestions as to what the city should do in this situation. All of these are well-suited to be permanent features for proper non-car transportation:

– Build another bridge connecting Kenilworth and Geneva. Yeah, I know the city will complain about the cost, but we maintain a ton of car overpasses, a second bike/ped one isn’t unreasonable. Seriously. Delay the current project. Build this new bridge. Then get back to this project.

– Put protected bike lanes on Island Park Drive. They should be there anyway. Paint is never sufficient. Bollards and concrete are necessary.

– Ensure the bike path through Hampton Park is winter-maintained. You can’t just close off the only winter-maintained route without providing other options when it snows.

– Hampton Park connects with Dovercourt, but Dovercourt doesn’t have lights at Kirkwood. Put some in. Or a pedestrian crossover. Whatever. Anything that will force cars not kill me when I’m trying to get to work. (And, no, the lights half a block away are not sufficient. The city is already messing with established bike routes. Proper, convenient crossings are needed.)

– Put protected bike lanes on Carling Avenue. It’s a traffic sewer. It’s an urban freeway. It’s a dangerous stroad. In parts, it’s 8 car lanes wide and has a median. There’s absolutely no reason not to give more space to bikes. Oh, and you need to plow this in winter, whenever it snows. We don’t ignore cars in winter, other people deserve similar consideration.

The new Harmer Bridge is clearly a needed project. The current bridge is old. However, it is shameful that the city has done absolutely nothing else to facilitate non-car transportation in this general area.

Further, it will be even more shameful if the city is to close this vital route for over two years without proper, protected, year-round alternatives that don’t treat bicyclists and pedestrians as lower classes in our transportation caste system.

It is at this point that I’ll point out that we won’t close the Queensway for more than a weekend for a bridge replacement, but non-drivers get to suffer for two full rotations around the sun.

You may detect a note of anger in this message, and I do apologize if I seem unnecessarily hostile. However, the city does not take my or my family’s safety–our very lives–seriously. It is incredibly hard to get around this city without endangering myself. I go far out of my way in order to live my life without unnecessary danger. With this as my daily experience, I am incredibly skeptical of planned detours.

Perhaps this is unfair. But I have drivers threatening me and bullying me every single day. My skepticism is well-earned.

One thing I forgot to mention in my letter: if there is no appropriate detour provided, I will be unapologetically riding on the sidewalk as much as I damned well need to. 

Why must we always assume cars?

Last year…I think it was last year?…I led a Jane’s Walk along Bank Street in the Glebe. (If you don’t know about Jane’s Walks, check ’em out). I was talking about the changes along Bank Street, it’s potential, it’s problems, you know, the usual stuff.

At one point, we got the proposed development at Bank and Fifth (no, not the Fifth + Bank proposal, the other one). I wrote about the plan when it came out a few years ago. It seemed like a fine plan (that has since changed, and is still a fine plan), but neighbourhood people were getting really upset at the proposed lack of parking. It was madness. There are already too many cars in the neighbourhood, and they were upset about not inviting more.

I started talking about the proposed development, and one gentleman expressed his dislike for the plan because there had to be parking, because obviously people are going to drive there. You can’t possibly stop them.

(If I’m not mistaken, this man drove to a Jane’s Walk.)

This is bullshit. This assumption that cars will be forever present, that there’s never any chance of people not driving somewhere is utter bullshit…and I wasn’t really up for taking any of that bullshit, especially since it meant more people would be driving in my neighbourhood.

The man and his wife left the Jane’s Walk soon after. I don’t know, maybe it wasn’t my finest hour, but I don’t really know why anyone would go on a Jane’s Walk to advocate for driving.

So, yeah, I was thinking about that as I saw this news story from a few weeks ago:

The City of Ottawa’s planning committee has approved a luxury condo building on Scott Street, pitting the councillor for Westboro against his residents, who fear the development will turn their neighbourhood into a parking lot.

The nine-storey building would have 49 units but only 13 surface parking spots, four of which would be reserved for visitors.

Residents clearly can’t imagine that people would ever live anywhere without a car. Oh what cruel fate must befall someone livnig in a dense area right on transit that they wouldn’t fucking drive everywhere?

“It’s not going to reduce the number of cars,” said Vivan Russell, who lives next to the proposed site.

She worries her new neighbours will simply park on the street.

Well, no, I guess she’s right. It’s not going to reduce the number of cars, because all the entitled drivers already living in the area aren’t going anywhere. Also, with nine new resident parking spaces, you’re probably going to get nine new resident cars, as well. So, yeah, bravo, well deduced.

And maybe there will be more street parking, at least in the short run. Bad habits–like driving–are hard to break, and as a city we keep re-inforcing the idea that you need a car, need it.

But we can also take steps to deter car ownership. We could, say, build a massively expensive LRT system right past their front door. We could also just not offer residents street parking (like downtown or like the condos on Holmwood that back on to Lansdowne). There are actually mechanisms in place to help encourage modal shifts.

But the biggest deterrent to car ownership is probably the lack of parking. Jurisdictions that don’t enforce minimum parking requirements, that don’t offer tons of street parking, that don’t cater to drivers, see lower rates of driving. It’s amazing that when you don’t officially encourage an activity, people do less of it.

So, actually, yes, the proposal likely will reduce the number of cars, compared to how many you’d get if you had 53 parking spots.

think Kitchissippi Councillor Jeff Leiper gets it. He seems supportive of the plan, if a little conflicted:

Higher buildings with less parking will be a new reality for the neighbourhood once LRT runs through the area, Leiper told the committee.

“I think this is the kind of building that we’re going to have to accept,” he said.

No, no it’s not the kind of building “we’re going to have to accept”. It’s the kind of building we’re going to have to build. It’s the kind of building we must want. It’s the kind of building we must promote.

Look, I get that people who have been hoodwinked into thinking that car ownership is the only way to go through life are going to have trouble understanding that not everyone has bought into the lie. But they’re going to have to get used to it. Their dominance in our city…their destruction of our city is waning.

We’re building new things. Sustainable things. Livable things. Great things. And sometimes, you’ll just have to take transit to get there.

Oh, and by the way, city council approved the plan. Even in car-centric Ottawa, people are starting to get it.

Automated Vehicles and accepting a little bit of death.

I saw this tweeted out today. It’s makes a good point about the possible callousness of AV companies and proponents. Further, it calls into question what should be allowed on public streets, and what the public should be exposed to without their knowledge or consent:

But, y’know, the AV guy isn’t really wrong. Fatalities will become more commonplace with AVs. And the only way to work towards properly-functioning AVs is to test them. So yeah, it’s a gruesome calculus, but if more AV deaths means fewer road deaths, overall, maybe that is a fair trade-off.

Because we have already decided to accept death as a normal part of street life.

Something like 32,000 Americans die on roads every year. About 65,000 Americans died in Vietnam. American roads basically have their own Vietnam every two years, forever. Arizona, where the recent high-profile AV killing happened, has a pedestrian death once every 1.6 days.

So, sure, it’s callous to say we just have to accept AV deaths, but it’s no less callous than saying, sure, we just have to accept all the regular road deaths.

Now, I’m inclined to believe that Chris Edwards of Harrisonburg, Virginia, doesn’t want anyone dying on the road. I don’t think anybody wants that. But it’s absolutely clear that many, many people are okay with it.

I’m not going to assume that AVs are the solution to all the death on our streets. Further, I’m pretty sure that they’re going to be a bit of a scourge if we let them run amok (like we’ve done with normal cars for the last half century). But there is a lot of potential for AVs to help make our streets safer.

But the real problem in all of this is just how dangerous our streets are, inherently. The solution to all this death isn’t better driving technology, it’s safer streets. It’s recognizing that errors (automated or man-made) are going to happen, and then doing what we can to minimize the damage they’ll cause.

It’s about embracing the principles of Vision Zero. It’s about using infrastructure to provide safety for road users and allow for margins of error for drivers.

Until we do that, a helluva lot more people are going to die.

Oh where, oh where can my AV be?

When I was a kid, the car’s radio was always tuned to W1310, “Oldies 1310”, as it was known. As a result, I gained a pretty good knowledge of ’60s music. I remember Wayne Cochran’s Last Kiss being played a few times on the station. (You probably know the song, “Oh where, oh where can my baby be/The Lord took her away from me…”.)

A few years ago (fine, decades), Pearl Jam released a cover of  Last Kiss, and it got a good amount of airplay. At this point, I was no longer subjected to my father’s musical whims and we wound up hearing this new version.

My dad had an unexpectedly virulent reaction to the song, angrily responding to the singer/narrator, “the Lord didn’t take her away. You did.”

***

I didn’t have a particularly urban childhood, and my dad isn’t what you’d call an urbanist. We lived in a variety of suburbs–Bel Air/Copeland Park, Carlingwood, Longfields. We always had a car and drove a fair amount. When we moved to Barrhaven, we briefly had two cars (and I was pretty ticked when we got rid of one, because, fuck, Barrhaven).

But, then again, we often bused (well, my dad, my sister and me, not so much my mom), and when choosing a neighbourhood to live, he made sure that he’d be able to bus there (he worked at Tunney’s Pasture). Some days, he’d even walk.

He and I tended to bus to Rough Riders games. The family would sometimes Park-n-Ride it to the Ex. My sister and I took OC Transpo to school for a number of years…and, just generally, felt free and confident to take it to go the mall or whatever.

More recently, dad fled Barrhaven for the Glebe and, then, Riverside Drive. During this time, he’d still walk a lot (at least in the Glebe), and he made sure that his new homes were always transit-adjacent…even if driving has become, more and more, his primary mode.

My dad split his childhood between Ottawa and Vancouver. I don’t know much about the areas of Vancouver where he grew up (like, say, what areas he grew up in), but in Ottawa, he lived in Manor Park when he was young. Later, during high school and university, his family lived on Metcalfe (Dad went to Tech).

I know his father had an affinity for walking…and downtown apartment living (especially for a white-collar family) would imply some sort of draw to what we’d now consider an urban lifestyle. It would seem this impulse was incorporated to the suburban lifestyle he chose as an adult.

***

Years ago, there was much concern about the a certain “killer stretch” of Highway 7. It was pretty winding, and it saw a disproportionate amount of crashes, injuries and fatalities. News reports spoke of how dangerous it was, and it how it caused all these accidents.

My dad scoffed.

This was back in high school, around when I would have been learning to drive (maybe a little before), and it was one of those minor little moments that stuck with me.

In the news, we hear so much about “accidents” (though, that is changing, thankfully). We hear about how drivers lose control. How there was nothing they could do to avoid a collision.

Dad objected to the framing that the road, not the drivers, was responsible for the collision. People were driving too fast for the road. They weren’t driving properly. When you’re driving, it’s your responsibility to be safe.

I understood, but I suggested that sometimes a driver isn’t responsible–if it’s raining or icy.

Again, my dad scoffed. It was the driver’s responsibility to drive to the conditions. If you were driving too fast to be able to stop in the rain, that meant you were driving too fast and any collision was your fault.

***

The other day, an autonomous vehicle killed someone. Her name was Elaine Herzberg.

That’s a pretty horrid formulation; the AV may have been the implement of death, but it wasn’t the actor. That’d be the company (Uber) and the “safety operator” (Rafaela Vasquez).

The media and police took up Uber’s dirty work, trying to quickly place blame on the victim (jaywalking! homeless! jumped out of the shadows!).

It was a despicable smear campaign.

Video was eventually released, but the cops watched it first and tried to get the narrative going in one direction:

It’s very clear it would have been difficult to avoid this collision in any kind of mode (autonomous or human-driven) based on how she came from the shadows right into the roadway.

But, of course, the video doesn’t tell the story the cops and Uber want it too. Yes, the person was crossing mid-block, but she was moving at a normal walking pace and was more than 3/4s of the way across the multi-lane road. There was no jumping out. There was nothing sudden about it. Oh, and I’m really not sure why we’re supposed to be ok with a killing if the victim may have been homeless.

On top of that, the car was speeding (and never even attempted to stop).

Oh, and the “safety operator” wasn’t even paying attention when it happened.

What’s clear is that the woman should have been detected by the AV. A human driver should have been able to avoid the collision. The AV completely, utterly failed.

But let’s put aside all the ways Uber failed. And all the ways the “safety operator” failed. And all the ways the road designers failed.

Let’s go back to the notion, pushed by the cops, that there was no way for the AV to stop.

It was this notion that got me thinking of my dad and his view on driver responsibility. A slow-moving pedestrian is not a surprise. She is not a sudden obstacle. If the car truly could not stop, then the car was going to fast. Even if the car was going the speed limit (which it actually wasn’t), it was still going to fast. It doesn’t matter that it was an AV rather than a regular car. If it couldn’t stop, it was going to fast.

This is only one element of the tragedy. There are clearly other ways that Uber, the AV and the “safety operator” were at fault here, but this notion that, welp, it just couldn’t stop is such deeply ingrained, toxic attitude in our car-centric culture, and it is this sort of mentality that we have to fix. Until then, AVs–just like regular drivers–will continue to be a threat on our streets.

Comment Rescue: Speeding

On my Stop Fucking Driving Your Car at People post from the other day, reader Sam made this observation:

…Here’s proof at how bad people are with their speed. Parking lots need speed bumps. Think about it. You’re already at your destination. You are moments away from parking and going into your store, coffee shop, etc. And yet the owner of this strip mall has to install speed bumps because even though you are just moments from parking, you still can’t slow down. If that’s not proof that there is too much speeding by too many people, then I don’t know what is.

Yeah. It’s just insane.

When it comes to sidewalks and consultations, not all Ottawa residents are treated equally.

So by now, you may have heard about the cancelled sidewalk on Sunview Drive in Orleans. It’s a street with a park. Henry Larsen Elementary School is there. It’s a bus route. Staff called it a priority. There’s room. There’s a need. There’s every reason in the world to build this sidewalk…and yet the Transportation Committee decided just to axe it.

Innes Ward councillor Jody Mitic put forward the motion because residents on that side of the street were opposed to it. (There’s currently a sidewalk on only one side of the street.)

The arguments against the sidewalk are really something:

“I just didn’t think it was necessary,” said Kathryn Stonier, who lives on the street and rarely sees people walking around.

People in the neighbourhood have landscaping and interlock driveways that would be ruined by new sidewalks, she said.

The gall. The audacity. The deep, deep sense of entitlement. The lack of concern for others’ safety. It’s absolutely incredible.

The fact that Mitic and the committee rolled over so effortlessly is also incredible. There was no debate about it. No one wondered, hey, will anyone get hurt or killed because of this? Should we even consider the needs of kids walking to school or the park?

No, instead of taking their responsibility as councillors seriously, the Transportation Committee just rubber stamped the motion. They entrenched the notion that the property owners also own the property in front their homes. The needs of the city should be subordinate to the whims and interlocking stones of homeowners.

It’s really damn gross.

Only In My Backyard, again

Mitic, it would seem (he didn’t respond to the reporter’s request for an interview…possibly because he was sick), has decided to acquiesce to the desires of certain residents (perhaps not even the majority of residents who use that street on a regular basis). City policy must bend to the will of residents.

Or, at least, to the will of his residents.

I wrote about Mitic and the idea of Only-In-My-Backyard last fall, when he opposed a new baseball diamond because dog owners opposed it:

This is sort of the corollary to NIMBY-ism. It’s an Only-In-My-Back-Yard situation. Only In My Back Yard will I worry about traffic safety. Only In My Back Yard will I protect zoning regulations. Only In My Back Yard will I consider the wishes of the community. Only In My Back Yard do residents matter.

This isn’t about a baseball diamond or a retirement home or a lower speed limit. This is about treating all neighbourhoods and all residents fairly (which we really don’t). This is about having consideration for the safety, comfort and basic value of everyone in this city.

If you read through that CBC report, they talk about a similar situation in Kanata where Allan Hubley led the charge against safe street infrastrcture:

In that case, Coun. Allan Hubley had a large portion of a sidewalk scheduled to be constructed on Chimo Drive in Kanata postponed until after 2020, following public outcry.

The people whose homes the sidewalk would connect with signed a petition and told the councillor they didn’t want it.

Hubley told CBC in May 2017 it made sense to comply with the majority of people who would have been most affected by the sidewalk.

In my previous post, I compared this to the development at 890-900 Bank Street, and how the city steamrolled residents in order to approve zoning-busting development.

But we could also look at the re-design of Elgin Street. There was extensive consultation with the entire community (not just a petition signed by a lot of the people who live on one side of a street). The community wanted wider sidewalks and bike lanes. Instead, city council decided to create fancy flex-space for parking.

Hubley and Mitic both voted in favour (Hubley at council; Mitic at Transportation Committee, he was absent for the council meeting).

So here we go again. The desires of certain residents are trampled by city planners and councillors, but the desires of others are supported, trampling the work of city planners.

And in both cases, we have decided against basic safety initiatives.

This is a dysfunctional council. They are hurting the city. They’re going to get someone killed (if they already haven’t).

Yes, we pamper drivers

A few weeks ago, I wrote a column for the Sun about how we’re screwing up downtown because all of our development has catered to drivers (I assume you all read it, right? Right?) Well, not all readers agreed; here was an objection raised:

On Jonathan McLeod’s column regarding “pampering drivers”: Obviously, he hasn’t seen the state of Ottawa’s streets.

In fact, I have seen the state of Ottawa’s streets! In fact, as a bicyclists and pedestrian, I get a much better view our streets than drivers. They’re kind of crappy. There’s tons of pot holes. And the city never seems that interested in properly vising or maintaining them.

And yet! Drivers are still pampered.

As a bicyclist, I’m forced to ride on the street with cars. Many of the pot holes and crumbling infrastructure is near the curb, right where I ride. I’m regularly faced with the choice of hitting a giant divot in the road or swerving into the path of a car.

Pot holes can send me flying. They can injure me. They can damage my bike. They can throw me into traffic, killing me. Drivers–the people who caused the damn things in the first place–just roll right on over them, no risk to life or limb. So yes, drivers are pampered.

In my neighbourhood, there are zero north-south bike lanes. I’m forced to mingle with cars. Drivers get a network of car lanes. They have ample choice. I get to choose the least bad option, weighing the cost-benefit of time vs. danger. Yes, drivers are pampered.

In my neighbourhood, there is only one useful E-W bike route. It’s wide and drivers often go really fast. It connects with a road that is horrible for pot holes. It’s cracked and pock-marked. It isn’t properly cleared in winter, allowing ridges of ice to build up. It’s a hazard, but still the best and safest way for me to get to work. Drivers whiz by, barely caring. Drivers are pampered.

That road connects with Commissioners Park, a key bike route. It hasn’t been plowed all winter. I get to choose between dangerous roads, incredibly long detours and sidewalks. All car routes are cleared. Drivers are pampered.

In my neighbourhood, there is one N-S “bike way”. It has no infrastructure and regularly puddles. It’s like this so that drivers get wide lanes and still get to park wherever the hell they want. Drivers are pampered.

A few blocks over on the main street, there’s no bike infrastructure, because we need to maintain four lanes, including parking lanes. This road is in far better shaped than the “bike way”. Drivers are pampered.

As a pedestrian, the sidewalk is regularly used for driving and parking. Drivers cut corners, destroying the sidewalks. They pull up on the sidewalk because they’re just going to be a minute. There’s no political will to address this. Ottawa By-Law won’t even send people to enforce the no-sidewalk parking law. Drivers are pampered.

We now build sidewalks with the intention of having people park on them. We let hotels use the public sidewalk as a loading bay. Drivers are pampered.

We’ve just decided not to build a sidewalk in Orleans–on a bus route, on a street with a park and a school–in part to preserve parking. Drivers are pampered.

Walk along Bank Street and you’ll encounter massive puddles–lakes, really–at just about every corner. All sidewalks have curb cuts to lower them to road level. Streets are draining on the curb side, leading to the splashing of pedestrians. We refuse to build raised crosswalks or intersections. The corners are dramatically rounds to let cars zoom around them. Drivers are pampered.

Even if you’re on a main bike route, traffic lights won’t be timed to facilitate the flow of bikes. Bicyclists, on signed bike routes, have to ride up to the yellow dots (assuming they’re there and they’re not under snow and ice) to trigger the lights. The main arteries for cars get lights optimized, often unchanging until triggered. Drivers are pampered.

Pedestrians are forced to push beg buttons. It doesn’t matter if it’s -20 or pouring rain. It doesn’t matter if the button is inaccessible due to snow or ice. You have to push it if you want to cross. Cars get to just keep on going. Drivers are pampered.

The city is unwilling to spend much money on bike infrastructure or sidewalks. We keep building, expanding and maintaining roads. Drivers are pampered.

The “winter cycling network” isn’t actually maintained by the city. It’ll get plowed maybe once or twice a year. It’s basically just PR. Drivers are pampered.

Maintaining our roads cost money. It is, predominantly, the councillors from wards with high bicycling, transit and pedestrian modal shares that push to raise sufficient funds to properly maintain our infrastructure (for all modal shares). It is councillors from car-dependent wards that seek to starve the city of the necessary revenue to maintain our infrastructure. Drivers are, disproportionately, at fault.

Transit fares have to make up about 53% of OC Tranpso revenue. We won’t even debate road tolls or congestion pricing. Drivers are pampered.

Transit fares are continuously going up. Parking fees remain unchanged. Drivers are pampered.

We still have minimum parking requirements for developments, shifting the cost of driving onto non-drivers. Drivers are pampered.

Elgin Street is undergoing construction for the next few years, to help out businesses, the city will be offering free parking at City Hall. There will be no similar relief for transit users. Drivers are pampered.

So I don’t care if you have to drive over a few pot holes. You don’t have it as bad as pedestrians, bicyclists or transit users. The city still designs itself around your needs, regularly to the exclusion of those of others…to the exclusion of the safety of other road users. Further, it is, predominantly, your political representatives who are at fault for so many of these issues, and yet you keep rewarding them.

Ottawa pampers drivers. You have an easy ride…but it’s not sustainable. Someday, the politicians and planners will catch up to this reality and no longer will receive your favoured, pampered status. I know you hate that. I know you clutch at with jealousy. But at least have the decency to acknowledge the preferential treatment you receive.

Or failing that, just stop whining.

Stop fucking driving your car at people

Often when I’m crossing a street–on my bike or walking or walking with my small children–a driver will be slowly driving at me. They’ll be creeping past the stop line and into the crosswalk, hoping to go through right after I clear their fender. Make no mistake, I’ll have the right of way. They’ll be waiting at a stop sign or looking to turn right on a red.

A lot of you do this, and here’s the thing; I don’t care how nice you are out of your car, how caring, how altruistic, how thoughtful; when you do this, when you creep towards a vulnerable road user–especially young children–you’re being an asshole.

Stop it. It’s rude. It’s threatening. It’s selfish. It’s intimidating. It’s fucking dangerous.

Recently, a New York driver did this. And she killed a one-year-old and three-year-old, and sent a pregnant woman to the hospital. From the story:

The woman told officers that she was creeping up a bit at the intersection in anticipation of the red light changing and then accidentally hit the accelerator, according to the Post report, which cited information from sources.

Make no mistake about it, this woman is a murderer, if the word is to mean anything at all. She intentionally drove her car at people, then “accidentally” accelerated at them.

Because New York authorities take things so seriously, they let the killer go.

I was a bit surprised by this story…no, not that a driver “accidentally” killed two kids, of course not…no, not that cops didn’t seem to give a shit, that’s par for the course. I was surprised because this story seemed to get some actual traction. I know social media isn’t a great barometer for what real people are thinking, but I did see a lot of people who aren’t normally concerned with such issues tweeting their horror–at both the crime and the lax attitude of the cops.

I mean, part of me was thinking, well, duh, this isn’t particularly uncommon, but I was slightly comforted by the notion that there could be a street killing so tragic that people were actually noticing.

So, yeah, the next time you’re at a stop line and a bike or a pedestrian–or kids, for fuck sake–are crossing. Just stop your damned car. Sit there. Wait your turn. And don’t try to bully anyone to get out of your way. Accept that you saving .5 seconds on your fucking commute isn’t worth more than their lives.

Creeping into intersections like this, intentionally driving right at people, makes you an asshole.

And as we’ve seen, it could also make you a killer.