Posts Tagged ‘danger’

My Latest Brush

March 10, 2008

With a bit less luck, one of last weeks treks over to the local neighbourhood mall for a bit of exersize and a cup of java and some socializing might well have been the last walk that I ever took!

pic 01 pic 02
pic 03 pic 04
pic 05
pic 06

I’ve written before about the topography of this area, most notably the dangerous situation that exists for pedestrians at the Commissioners/King Edward intersection because of the ‘valley’ that it lies in (click on pic 01).

In fact, that intersection is where I had my previous serious scare. One of those hills, the one which crests at Frontenac Road (east side of crest shown; click on pic 02), poses considerable danger to pedestrians on it’s west side as well.

Let me explain that there is no signalized crossing on Commissioners Road East between Frontenac Rd. and Adelaide Street. It’s a long stretch of often very busy 4-lane arterial (speedway). And with a couple of large apartment buildings on either side of it (pic 05, pic 06), not to mention the Eagle Crescent residential neighbourhood, the absence of any assisted crossing poses a considerable risk to pedestrians and public transit users.

So, here’s the deal. Given the absence of any assisted crossing, I always try to cross at the intersection of Commissioners Rd. and Eagle Crescent. Waiting as usual for a break in the eastbound traffic coming from Adelaide St. in the west, and seeing no vehicles between me and the crest of the hill at Frontenac Dr. to the east, I started across as quickly as my bad knee would allow. About 5 seconds later (and two steps away from the semi-safe mid-road median), I feel the wind at my back followed by the sound of it’s passing. I tell you, this idiot had to have been going over 100 clicks! By the time I could turn my head to confirm what had just happened, he (?) was already starting to make the turn onto Adelaide St.

How much more dangerous is this situation going to become once the City decides to allow further development of the south side of Commissioners at Eagle?

Today’s Wake-Up Blog

March 6, 2008

It’s really great to start the day off with a post by another local blogger that seems to be directed right at me.

Carmi Levy did that this morning with this post which suggests that our society is dumbing down.

Reckless, I can agree with. And sometimes that recklessness can be a reflection of diminished capacity. But sometimes people do actually know better and are simply too selfish/apathetic/distracted/lazy/? (you choose) to make the correct choice.

Quite often you’ll hear somebody say that the first step towards solving a problem is recognizing that there is one. But I don’t agree with that. I think that the first step is making the effort to pay attention to what’s going on beyond your own back yard so that you can take steps to prevent it’s ever occuring where you are in the first place.

That’s basically the message that I had for local politicians when I made this submission to the Community and Protective Services Committee in 2002. I told them that they only had to look as far down the road as Toronto to see where London was headed, and that they needed to take steps to prevent a similar experience from happening here.

I don’t pretend to be a genius. It’s simply a matter of common sense, isn’t it? A recognition that there are many larger cities all over the world that made choices that led to problems that we don’t want to experience. A recognition that, while there’s no guarantee, being pro-active now and trying to steer a different path in order to avoid those problems experienced elsewhere may save us from some of them at least.

Fast-forward a half-dozen years since that CAPS delegation and virtually all of the things that I warned about have come to pass. And I’m still largely ignored by local politicians who only have the capacity to do a part-time job because they don’t want to admit that in a city of this size it’s a full-time one. But I have hope.

People are starting to wake up to the reality of some of the things that I’ve been saying. That’s encouraging. But it’s not enough.

It’s too easy for politicians to ignore single individuals, or small groups of persons. It’s only when they see that there’s a significant number of people championing the same cause that they become concerned about retaining their cushy gig and show some interest.

So I’m going to continue to ask for assistance from the community. If you’re concerned about public safety, if you think that City Hall needs to pay more than just lip-service to pedestrians and bicyclists and public transit users, tell me who you are and ask to be added to my contact list. I’ll keep you in the loop about the efforts that I’m making (like this) and what you can do to help.

Pollution From Traffic Harms Children

February 23, 2008
( posted with permission )

According to a new study in the American Journal of Epidemiology, “children who live in neighbourhoods with heavy traffic pollution have lower IQs and score worse on other tests of intelligence and memory than children who breathe cleaner air.” 01

The study’s lead author is Dr. Shakira Franco Suglia (Boston’s Harvard School of Public Health). She says that traffic pollution has been associated with a number of other harmful effects as well, and that there’s not much people can do other than moving away from heavy traffic areas. 02

“All children’s outdoor activities should be as far as possible from busy roadways.” 03

Be sure to check out my list of the highest-volume stretches of road in London 04 (and then keep your kids away from them)!

01. 2008/02/19 – National Post: Effects Of Heavy Traffic Pollution
02. 2008/02/15 – MSNBC: …tied to low memory and intellegence scores
03. 2004/04/30 – ENS: Particle Pollution…
04. CityLondon: Traffic Volume Data

The Risk of Mobile Advertising

February 18, 2008

In my recent written submission to Planning Committee, I asked that “the appropriatness of allowing large video displays, mobile advertising, etc. anywhere in the city, be referred to staff for a comprehensive study (including consultation with London Police Service), followed by a report back to the appropriate standing committee and the opportunity for public engagement.” 01


Is Our Water Unsafe?

February 9, 2008

According to an International Joint Commission 400-page study, communities in areas around the Great Lakes have low birth weights, elevated rates of infant mortality and premature births, and elevated death rates from breast cancer, colon cancer, and lung cancer.

Haven’t heard about it before now? Reportedly, that’s because the CDC’s Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) has been delaying release of the report due to the potentially alarming information contained in it.

When Christopher De Rosa (ATSDR’s 15-years director of toxicology and environmental medicine who oversaw the study) blew the whistle and pressed for it’s release, the agency retaliated by demoting him.

Great Lakes Danger Zones?
Great Lakes Environment and Sustainability Chronology
2008/02/15 – Montreal Gazette: Government buries climate science

Accident Popularity

January 13, 2008

An XKCD sketch.

Pedestrians Finally Get an LFP Mention, but For What Purpose?

January 5, 2008

The Editor-in-Chief of London’s only daily newspaper had the unmitigated gall to include a “Point of View” editorial in today’s edition (‘Let’s put people ahead of cars ‘; Paul Berton; London Free Press; 2008/01/05) which suggests an appreciation for pedestrians. Just amazing!

2008/01/25 Correction: It seems that the location of Mr. Berton’s POV article on the LFP website has been changed; it can now be found HERE (but for how long I can’t promise).

Mr. Berton tells us that “the great streets of the world…they’re great because they’re attractive to pedestrians…let’s get rid of all one-way streets in London” and ends his article with this flourish: “it all boils down to what — or whom — we care about: cars or people.”

Great stuff, right?

Well, no actually. Because the main purpose of the article appears to be Mr. Berton’s political support for those downtown business owners who want to eliminate one-way streets and who want to see more on-street parking (“business leaders along Richmond have been requesting it for years”) so that “restaurants and shops” will do better (ie make more money).

So far at least, the LFP hasn’t seen fit to include this POV:editorial in it’s Interactive Letters section. Which may or may not mean that they’re not anxious to get any feedback to the article. It’s strange how most of Mr. Berton’s columns get listed there, but some don’t. And how the LFP conveys the appearance of wanting to be more ‘interactive’ in the face of increasing competition from ‘citizen journalists’ but won’t provide permalinks, basic formatting capability, etc. to it’s online readers. But, I digress…

In a recent Editor’s Blog post (‘Late-night News’; Paul Berton; 2008/01/03) the Editor asks us, “Why is the return of Leno and Letterman news?”

And so, never one to let an opportunity or a gift-horse pass me by, this submission…

 What is News?
 Greg Fowler (; 2008/01/05


 The return of celebrities to the airwaves after a very brief absence 
 may be topical, but is it important in the large scheme of things? 
 What's the difference between "hard news" and "soft news" and 
 "pop culture"?  What's the difference between the London Free Press 
 and Star Magazine?  How much more "dumbing down" can our modern 
 society withstand before it starts to crumble like our city's 

 Case in point.  You've ignored my proposal for a Pedestrian Committee 
 and the way that City Council handled it.  You've ignored my warnings 
 about the dangerous situation for pedestrians along Commissioners Road, 
 and in particular, the Commissioners/Pond Mills intersection which a 
 London Police report identified as dangerous to pedestrians and which 
 City Hall has ignored.  Now in today's paper, there's a column by you 
 extolling the virtues of pedestrian travel, without any mention of the 
 problems that face pedestrians in this city.

 "News" may be redefining itself, but it seems to me that we've lost 
 something important.  My only hope is that "citizen journalism" can 
 help to fill the void.

Updated 2008/01/15:
Well, it’s now been fully 10 days since I submitted my comment to the LFP Editor’s Blog. And although they did finally publish it several days later, there’s still been no response from Mr. Berton. Don’t you have to ask yourself (or Mr. Berton), why not?

2007/01/06 – FMBS: My Public Response to Paul Berton
2007/03/09 – FMBS: PlasTax
2007/04/18 – FMBS: Council Salaries
2007/06/25 – FMBS: London Free Press ‘Truth’
2007/09/10 – FMBS: Better Engineering Equals Increased Safety
2007/11/18 – FMBS: Citizen Journalism

The King of Trans-Fat?

December 21, 2007

Sally Brown (CEO; Heart and Stroke Foundation) labelled Burger King the “King of Trans Fat” earlier today because many of the company’s products still contain unacceptably high levels of trans fats.

Fast-food companies often simply use the chemically changed oils (liquid to artery-clogging semi-solid) in their products because it extends shelf life, and that means increased profit.

“Not all companies are reducing them in all products, but Burger King isn’t reducing them in any products.”

Appended 2007/12/22:

click for larger imageHere’s the BK at Commissioners/Pond Mills in London, Ont; as you can see, being newly-crowned as king of trans fats doesn’t appear to be hurting business any.

2007/12/20 – CBC: …Burger King in the hot seat
2007/12/20 – Toronto Star: Burger King takes … trans fat crown
2007/12/20 – CityNews: …Government Report Names Names
2007/12/21 – Toronto Star: Burger King scores worst on trans fats
2007/12/21 – Globe & Mail: Burger King reigning leader in trans fats
2007/12/31 – Globe & Mail: Calgary cracks down on trans fat

British Cellphone Crackdown

December 20, 2007

Although the use of cellphones while operating an automobile was outlawed in Britain in 2003, it’s estimated that “half a million motorists flout the ban each day.”


Fast-Car Ads Hit Quebec Roadblock

December 18, 2007

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An amendment to Quebec’s Bill 42 (highway safety) would “give the provincial auto insurance board the mandate to come up with guidelines to ban [car] ads that depict ‘heedless, careless or dangerous behaviour and gestures’ “ and more.


Consumer Alert – Feds Attack Canadians with Saturated Fat

December 17, 2007

OTTAWA, Dec. 17 /CNW/ - 
With Federal Government Ministers 
Jim Flaherty (Finance), David Emerson 
(International Trade), and Gerry Ritz (Agriculture) 
poised to announce the passing of legislation to substantially 
increase the fat content of cheeses sold in Canada, the 
Consumers' Association of Canada wonders if 
Health Minister Tony Clement is asleep at the switch. 


London Parking Authority?

December 7, 2007

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City administration presented a written submission and showed a presentation at the 2007/11/26 ETC meeting with respect to the 2008 Parking Strategy Business Plan. ETC directed administration to assess “the merits of establishing a parking authority in London” and to report back.

What is a Parking Authority?

In Toronto, the mandate of it’s PA is “to provide safe, attractive, conveniently located and competitively prices off and on-street public parking, which is required by commercial strips and neighbouring residential areas to survive. ”

Is this an attempt by those who believe that the culture of cars is indispensible to aid them in achieving a proliferation of cheap parking in the city core? (see: ‘Transportation Choices & Their True Cost‘)

Is this the way that London tries to get more people out of cars and tries to influence them to adopt alternate modes of transportation? (see: City of London’s Transportation Master Plan)

Where did the impetus for this come from?

Although it was signed by Mr’s Leckie & Steblin, the parking report contains an acknowledgement that it was “prepared based on the extensive work of Shane Maguire.” Readers of this blog will recall that (according to the City’s forced response to my Freedom of Information request) NO ACTION was taken after Mr. Maguire received the police report which identifies that the design of the Commissioners/Pond Mills signalized intersection is dangerous to pedestrians.

2007/12/11 – TheGuardian: McParking row as slow eaters are fined

A Driver’s Tips for Cyclists

December 5, 2007

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Thanks to Jeff over on London Commons for posting the link to this video.

One suggestion for all you bicyclists out there. Don’t forget to take along your buns and condiments next time you go travelling, for all those flying burgers! 😉

Skewed Priorities?

December 3, 2007


That’s how much some senior members of City Hall staff and some members of Council appear to be willing to pay to “beautify” the pollution plant/ waste depot that’s on Oxford Street West.

I’m not opposed to visually enhancing our community. In fact, I’ve advocated for graffitti removal, public art, regulation re abandoned grocery shopping carts, etc. But is this a good deal for the money? Could it be done as well for less? Should it be done as long as other more important things are being underfunded or ignored altogether?

What ticks me off is the way that the City appears to decide upon the propriety of spending tax dollars, sometimes large amounts of it, without attempting to weigh the comparative importance of one initiative against another.

This “beautification” project is a perfect example, because the amount of money being proposed is almost as much as the City spends over the course of an entire year on Walkway Lighting. And let’s not forget to inadequate way that City Hall attends to landscaping along sidewalks and pathways. And let’s certainly not forget the pedestrian safety concerns that I’ve raised with respect to Commissioners Road East, particularly the design of the Commissioners/Pond Mills intersection (which a police report confirms is dangerous to pedestrians and which City Hall has ignored for this entire year).

But there’s little cause for City Hall to worry about such trivial concerns as pedestrian safety, having secretly “swept” my proposal for a Pedestrian Committee “under the rug” instead of dealing with it in public. Until pedestrians have a seat at the table, we’ll continue to be attacked and injured and killed needlessly.

2005/05/17 – FMBS: Eagle Crescent Walkway
2005/07/22 – FMBS: Eagle Crescent Walkway
2005/08/10 – FMBS: Eagle Crescent Walkway
2005/08/29 – FMBS: Eagle Crescent Walkway
2005/11/15 – FMBS: Walkway Lighting Budget
2005/12/10 – FMBS: Public Letter to City Council
2005/12/14 – FMBS: Eagle Crescent Walkway
2005/12/21 – FMBS: City Refuses to Reveal…Salary
2006/02/13 – FMBS: Unlit Walkways
2007/04/20 – FMBS: Eagle Crescent Walkway
2007/05/14 – FMBS: Walkway Fences
2007/05/14 – FMBS: Waiting Patiently
2007/07/14 – FMBS: Still Waiting Patiently
2007/08/18 – FMBS: Anybody Seen This Missing Councillor?
2007/11/14 – FMBS: Letter to ETC re Obstructive Landscaping

Our Environmental Arrogance

October 27, 2007

cougar campingHuman population is now +6 billion, and may double within this century. All over the world, other life forms are becoming extinct because of human encroachment. As developers push farther and farther out of the city limits and swallow up wild animal habitat, should we really be surprised by cougar attacks on pets, or vehicle collissions with deer?

deer crossing signIn today’s paper (“Deer runs amok in London furniture store“; Joe Belanger; London Free Press), we’re told that deer are “a menace to drivers.” Well, I beg to differ. It seems to me that we’re the menace, and it’s unlikely that we’ll be able to curb our selfishness before Mother Nature decides to do it for us.

2007/11/20 – LFP: List of cougar sightings growing