Holland Avenue and the mayor’s deceit when it comes to street safety

So I wanted to write a post offering Mayor Jim Watson a chance to reverse his horrible, callous decision to remove protected bike lanes from the Holland Avenue detour (no, don’t worry; it wasn’t going to be an “open letter”). I wanted to empathize with him–he’s made a bad a decision. It doesn’t matter why he made this decision–maybe to appease his driving-oriented, suburban voter base; or maybe to pander to a handful of voters on Holland Avenue; or maybe just because he kind of hates bicycling. It was a bad decision, but after personally intervening to make Holland Avenue more dangerous, it’d be hard to suddenly switch course.

I wanted to tell him he could. That he could find some way to give himself cover, some sort of excuse, so that it didn’t seem like he was caving to pressure and common sense, but that there were new revelations that made a reversal warranted.

I mean, yeah, it would all be total bullshit, but most people don’t really care about that. They care about not being run over. They care about their kids not dying on their way to summer camp. So I wanted to offer an olive branch.

But, fuck, Jim Watson just does not ever let you hold such thoughts of goodwill for very long. The deceit and bullshit that pours out of his mouth…the smarmy, cynical politicking…the dissembling…the evading…the intellectual dishonesty…the sheer contempt he has for residents…no, fuck that.

He spoke to CBC (after traffic planner Greg Kent spoke the other day…disastrously), and it was all just so much bullshit. Here’s how the whole damned thing started:

It’s my understanding we’ve got this system in place. Let us go through one season and if there are changes that have to be made, obviously from a safety point of view, we’ll do that

This is so fucking dishonest. It’s his “understanding”? It was his fucking decision to make the horribly dangerous and antagonistic arrangement of the street.

And “we’ve got a system in place”? Yes, we did. There were consultations. The councillor solicited feedback in person and electronically. He went door-to-fucking-door. After all that, the city planners made a wise decision, they chose to put protected bike lanes on Holland Avenue while the footbridge was being replaced.

That was the fucking system we had in place. It was Watson who decided to completely circumvent and subvert–to fucking sabotage–that system.

If you really want to know about the “system” we have in place, it clearly states we need concrete barriers in this situation:

So if Jim Watson was less cynical, more honest politician, he would have done exactly what he said: he’d follow the system we have in place, and try it out for a season before making changes. Instead, he changed the solution before it could even be tried.

Of course, Watson has a preferred solution over demonstrably safe infrastructure: Sharrows:

We have sharrows — for instance — in Hintonburg right now that are well used. Unfortunately, we can’t have a segregated lane on every single street.

You know what good Sharrows are? This:

Those are the same sort of “Super Sharrows” they’re using on Holland. That’s a professional driver. And that’s a bicyclist that wasn’t that far from being killed.

The second part of that tweet is also quite galling. No one is asking for protected bike lanes on every street, but there are no protected bike lanes on any of the streets around it.

The Harmer Avenue Bridge was the only way to cross the Queensway safely in that neighbourhood. And since the Queensway cuts the neighbourhood diagonally, the bridge was a necessary East-West and North-South connection.

There are no protected bike lanes on Parkdale. There are no protected bike lanes on Island Park. There are no protected bike lanes on Carling. You can no longer safely cross the Queensway around there if you’re a bicyclist.

So this bullshit about not having a segregated lane on every street is just so insulting, so deceptive. There are no protected bike lanes (or separated 417 crossings) anywhere. People want one. Just one. Not every street, just one fucking street.

Eight hundred people signed a position to have a safe route on just one fucking street and Watson does not care.

Now, maybe you don’t bike. Or maybe you don’t bike around Holland. Or maybe you only bike on paths or quiet residential streets. So maybe you’re not sure what the big issue.

That’s fair (or, at least, we’ll say it is). Here’s the issue:

Jim Watson wants kids going to school to use that infrastructure. It’s fucking unconscionable.

(And if they don’t use that, they’re allowed to ride on the sidewalk. Well, about that…on his first day to summer camp in the area, a friend’s young son was almost knocked off his bike by a pedestrian who wasn’t watching where he was going.

I bet we can all get behind a ton of sidewalk riding, right?)

You know, it seems like a lot of the people who pushed for this, have gotten cold feet. The resident behind the position that gave Watson an excuse to remove the bike lanes acknowledges that it seems pretty dangerous (he doesn’t explicitly say it’s bad…just that it’s dangerous…and that he’s glad he still has his free parking on public property. But I’m going to assume he’s not an absolute monster, just a selfish, entitled, parking enthusiast).

So, no, I’ve got no time for Watson, his bullshit or his declaration that we just have to wait a year and hope no one fucking dies.

My life is worth more than his damned ego. Your life is worth more than his hostility towards safe streets.

This is all bullshit. And we shouldn’t put up with it anymore.

4 thoughts on “Holland Avenue and the mayor’s deceit when it comes to street safety

  1. I’m increasingly convinced that his long game is to burn us all out. He makes bad decisions and then lies about them, then doubles down on the lies, he waits til shit’s approved and then finds a way to break it, there are a million consultations and we don’t dare miss one, even though none of them end up meaning anything, and it’s just 1000 times more exhausting than it needs to be in any kind of sane world. Burn us out or kill us off, either.

  2. Can I make a suggestion that may get your message across to more people. Cut down on or better yet totally remove the ‘fuck this’ and ‘fuck that’ and ‘bullshit this’ and ‘bullshit that’. Would you address Council in a deputation speaking like that or would you go on TedTalk speaking like that. From my point of view, a well crafted argument/discussion without the foul language would get me to read it more.

    • Can you make a suggestion? Fuck yeah, you can make a suggestion! That’s why the comments are open!

      More seriously (and I’m taking it on faith that yours was a well-intentioned comment)…

      Don’t do this. This is called tone-policing, and it’s a tactic that’s often used to silence or discredit marginalized people or people who aren’t considered to have sufficient status or people who are more vulnerable in one way or another. (Now, I don’t think I’d fall in those categories, but the practice itself is toxic.) Many writers react strongly to this practice, and justifiably so, I’d say.

      Now, as for the effectiveness or reach or tone of my personal blog…yeah, I’m really not going to get into a discussion about that.

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