Posts Tagged ‘car’

Pro-Pedestrian Not Anti-Car

October 2, 2008

Transportation Hierarchy The comment was made the other week that I was thought to be anti-Car. Although this did not offend me in any way and I respect the person’s opinion that made it, I thought it would be appropriate to clear up this misconception.

I can fully understand why some might think that I am anti-Car, based on the words I write and the opinions I express, but this is the farthest thing from the truth.

It’s not so much that I’m anti-car, because that’s not the case, it’s that I’m pro-pedestrian and pro-public transit and as much as some may want to argue, you can pro-pedestrian and not anti-car (pro-car) at the same time.

I will be the first to admit that we live in a car culture and to deny that the car is essential to everyday business, economics and society is essentially a denial that the industrial revolution was un-essential in developing the modern world we live in.

The automobile is essential in transporting goods, services, people; it is essential. The car isn’t going anywhere and those who wish it to are hopeless radicals that live in a fantasy world.

Since the car isn’t going anywhere, as it is essential, we as society need to better understand its role and purpose and make according changes as a result.

This is where my pro-pedestrian and public transit views come into place.

Although the car is essential in today’s society, it is not the priority and it should not be treated as such. The pedestrian has been around much longer than the automobile and therefore should be given more respect and privileges, as without the pedestrian we would not even have automobiles.

The car and the pedestrian can live in harmony, and so can those defending and living on both sides of the coin. This is something I strongly believe. However, the roles, rules, responsibilities and privileges surrounding both of these entities must be clearly defined.

I do have a car and I do drive it.,However, I choose to drive it only at certain times when other means of transportation may not be best suited. Yes this is a luxury that I have and even if I choose not to use it I still have it at my disposal.

With that said, when I choose to drive I respect the pedestrians out there because in most cases they deserve it and I fully understand where the hierarchy lies (or should lie) in the reality of things.

I hope this helps (at least a bit) to clear up any misconception that I may have un-intentionally put forth through my writings here. When it comes to the car and the pedestrian I live on both sides of the coin. I have a car, I use it, but I also choose to walk and take the public transit.

So although it may seem that I am one-sided many of the times when this debate arises, I think it is a more than justified and educated standpoint as I do (on a daily basis) live on both sides of the coin, but by no means am I saying it has to be one way or the other.

Tomorrow is Car-Free Day!

September 21, 2008

Yes, Monday Sept. 22 is International Car-Free Day. But, you wouldn’t know it in good old London, Ontario CANADA would you?

According to the Transportation Master Plan, this city is committed to getting people to adopt modes of transportation other than cars. So, that begs the question, what’s City Hall doing to promote the day?

Well, there’s a blurb on the front page of the city website: “Monday is International Car Free Day – your chance to leave the car at home and walk, cycle or take transit to get around London.” And that’s hyperlinked to THIS PAGE which basically confirms that the city isn’t doing anything. Oh, there’s a suggestion that something might be done next year (“City staff is looking into turning Car Free Day into a larger event next year”), but that’s all.

I guess that city staff have been too busy figuring out how to spend so many millions of dollars on roads this year to waste any time on something that makes as much sense as this does.

Disgusted? You should be.

Other Links:
2008/09/22 – CTV News: Car free day
2008/09/22 – CBC: Downtown Montrealers encouraged to go car-free…
2008/09/22 – Korea Times: Seoul Observes Car Free Day
2008/09/23 – National Post: How mayors got to work yesterday
2008/09/23 – Hilltop Online: D.C. Celebrates Car Free Day

Heads Up!

September 17, 2008

Normally speaking, drivers aren’t held accountable for the traffic-related nonsense that I witness on a daily basis. And that’s very frustrating when you realize that putting more traffic officers out on the street, or photo radar, or red light cameras, would make a big difference.

Sometimes though, police do happen to be in the right place at the right time.

While I was engaged in conversation with a traffic officer in front of the Commissioners/Adelaide plaza earlier this afternoon, a bicyclist traveling in a westward direction along the south bike path got very lucky when a vehicle that was exiting the plaza pulled out over the sidewalk directly in front of him.

Bicyclist and driver were both obviously guilty of inattention, and it was only the officer’s quick verbal alert to the bicyclist (CLICK TO LISTEN) which allowed him to escape a nasty collision (and perhaps injury).

Pedestrian Obstruction

August 28, 2008

This morning. Just before noon. More of the same…


Forget calling the police or complaining to City Hall … pedestrians aren’t even on their radar screen unless it comes to meaningless rhetoric. All I can do is continue to document this and other pedestrian problems and hope that over time it will contribute to similar action by other people. That might provide sufficient public embarrassment that they finally feel compelled to do something.

Other Links:
2008/08/01 – FMBS: Friday Walkabout link
2008/05/10 – FMBS: City Hall Sidewalk
2008/02/29 – FMBS: My CSCP Appearance
2008/01/20 – FMBS: Because They’re Allowed To
2007/11/14 – FMBS: Obstructive Landscaping

Are You a Jackass Driver?

August 26, 2008

photoToday’s rant is courtesy of the dolt driving the pickup who decided that making a legal right-hand turn onto Commissioners Road from the hospital’s parking lot yesterday would be too inconvenient.

Actually, I think that I’ll save the rant. The picture speaks for itself. Click to get a larger high-res image.

A Friday Walkabout

August 1, 2008

Friday nights the crazy drivers come out to play. But this week it looked like they were getting an early start.

gf20080801005Here’s some excitement taking place just west of the Commissioners/King Edward intersection that I’ve expressed concern about. It looked as if somebody took out one of the median light standards, but nobody was talking.

gf20080801007This is a scene that’s all too common to London pedestrians, and one which I blogged about before. It’s called obstruction.



gf20080801008More serious. This woman didn’t want to wait for the vehicle in front of her to turn left out of the plaza, so she decided to sqeeze through on it’s passenger side. Problem was, I was already started across the exit along the sidewalk. Did she care? And did she stop after I yelled at her? The license is clearly visible, but trying to get Sgt. Tom O’Brien to lay charges is an exersize in futility.

Low Speed Vehicles in Ontario

August 1, 2008

The July 29, 2008 CBC article title Ont. wants further studies into electric car safety caught my eye. You see, the Zenn was all ready to be street legal until Transport Canada changed the rules on low speed vehicles (LSV)–intentionally! This situation is well described by the Electric Vehicle Council of Ottawa (EVCO).

Transport Canada has its view:

Note: LSV safety standards do not match the safety standards of the conventional larger, heavier motor vehicle classes that travel our public roads. This poses a real threat to people inside LSVs, if they are operated on public roads.

(Transport Canada‘s emphasis)

I am a big proponent of safety, but this is ridiculous. Any protective shell is an improvement over the t-shirt and shorts I wear when cycling on roads in Ontario. I wear my bicycle helmet and follow the rules and hope, pray, and beg everyone else to predictably do the same. provides a wonderful physics lesson about vehicle collisions.

Don’t worry, CBC hasn’t yet (July 30, 2008 ) censored comments made in June 2008 which explain my favourite conspiracy theory for Transport Canada’s about face: loss of fuel tax revenue.

Aside 1: Let me misinterpret EVCO’s timeline and provide some direct links to you.

Aside 2: Did you know every individual in Canada has implied knowledge of trigonometry since ignorance of the law is no excuse: the stability of motorcycles must satisfy a couple equations which are functions of sine and inverse tangent.

Summer Smog Days

July 24, 2008

A ClimateCartoons present (published with permission ).

Paul Berton’s ‘Road Sharing’ Half-Truths

May 18, 2008

With respect to Paul Berton’s recent Point Of View column…

The LFP editor asks “how disturbing…to hear about hit-and-runs involving cars and cyclists like one over the weekend on Exeter Road”? He asks some questions about interaction between motorists/biyclists/pedestrians and he cites some stats (presumably obtained from the police, although he doesn’t say so).

Since Mr. Berton generally just ignores my posts to the LFP website, I’ll put it here as well, and you can comment about it if you like:

It’s About Time
Greg Fowler (

How long have I been trying to interest you in pedestrian rights/safety issues? Nice of you to finally get around to writing something. Too bad though that you didn’t think to pick up the phone and talk to me. Are pedestrians using crosswalks? Who’s determined to be at fault, numbers of tickets issued, etc? Did you think to ask any questions about those stats, Paul? Did you think to ask Tom O’Brien why only 30% of auto operators are being ticketed for striking pedestrians? When you want to give this serious issue the attention that it deserves, you let me know.

Bikes Don’t Belong on the Sidewalk

May 17, 2008

Over on London Topic, Dan O’Neil has written an article in which he describes his wife’s collision with a vehicle while riding her bicycle on the sidewalk, and he tries to make a case for why such behaviour should be allowed.

Sorry Dan, but that’s completely wrong.

I agree that riding bicycles on this city’s roads is hazardous, and that something ought to be done about that. But putting pedestrians at risk by allowing bicycles to share sidewalks with us is unfair to pedestrians, and completely contrary to the widely accepted concept of a transportation hierarchy that places pedestrians at the top.

We are all pedestrians, to some degree or other. We were all born pedestrians, and walking is a ‘natural right.’ As opposed to other forms of transportation, which are simply artificial constructs.

Dan writes that he has “never been able to find a case of a fatality resulting from a bike striking a pedestrian.” It took me about 5 seconds to find THIS ARTICLE. And I have no doubt that I could find more.

I’m sorry that Mr. O’Neils wife was hurt, and I hope that she recovers quickly. And London needs people who are willing to advocate for bicycling. For that, I commend Mr. O’Neil.

But we also need strong advocates for pedestrians and public transit.

And we need a police force that does a better job of enforcing the rules of the road than what I see day in and day out.

We need to elect people who can recognize the imbalance between automobile transportation and other forms, and the terrible price that our society and the environment are paying beause of our reliance on cars. People who are prepared to say so, and mean it.

Obstructed City Hall Sidewalk

May 10, 2008

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Should London politicians care that the sidewalk in front of City Hall is obstructed? They don’t seem to care about pedestrian-related problems anywhere else…


Pedestrian Hurdle

May 6, 2008

Only in London, Ontario CANADA you say?

pedestrian vehicle hurdleThis was the scene in front of Centennial Hall, where a 2008/05/05 City Hall ETC (Environment Transportation Committee) public participation meeting was about to be held in order to discuss taxi cab accessibility for disabled persons. Another fine example of how much London cares about accessibility and the alternate transportation problems of it’s citizens. By ignoring the problem of vehicle operators who blatantly obstruct pedestrian sidewalks.

ETC Update

May 5, 2008

Coming to you live from downtown London, only moments after having left the ETC meeting at City Hall, where the Roads Rehabilitation budget proposal was passed without any discussion. What cowards!

I’m taking a moment to grab some supper before heading over to Centennial Hall for the public participation meeting re Accessible Taxi Licenses, but I’ll update this post before long. Stay tuned, and thanks for the emails!

Lobbying for London’s Pedestrians

May 5, 2008

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Trying to keep you informed about what’s going on.

Look for the follow-up post.


Urban Design Work Program

May 2, 2008

Planning Committee is holding a public participation meeting in Council chambers at 5:15 PM on Monday, with respect to the Urban Design Work Program that is being spearheaded by London’s new urban planner, Sean Galloway.

According to the proposal, what’s envisioned is the development of “a design culture within the City of London that assists in creating liveable neighbourhoods and employment areas that build a strong community identity and are predicated on an integrated transportation network, quality public realm, an enhanced landscape, mix of land uses, safety, walkable and active streets, a diversity of housing types and a high standard of architectural design.” 01

Mr. Galloway referred to the plan during a presentation at the Central library last evening:

“On Monday night, going to Planning Committee, is the new Urban Design Program. And this program has 40 projects which is going to change your lives, going to change the way the city develops. And the type of public transportation infrastructure that we have in place, the type of built form that we have in place, the experiences you’re going to have on the street… It’s going to have quite an impact on our lives.” 02

Much of what Mr. Galloway said during his presentation touched all the right notes with me:

“The automobiles aren’t going to leave our life, but we do and should have choices for transportation. It doesn’t have to be automobile-dependent. We can walk, we’ve got two legs. We can take the bus.” 02

But Mr. Galloway is mistaken if he thinks that simply identifying better lifestyle choices is going to get the job done. Because we’ve heard it all before. The Transportation Master Plan and the city’s Official Master Plan are full of flowery rhetoric. But when it comes time to put that rhetoric into practise, this city hasn’t done anything. Except posture.

And if you don’t think so, you only have to review some of the many posts on this blog.

01. 2008/05/05 – CityLondon: Rec. to Planning Committee
02. 2008/05/01 – Sean Galloway’s library presentation