Posts Tagged ‘transportation’

The LTC’s ‘Courtesy Seating’ Response

October 9, 2008

photoIn response to my letter that was dated 2008/09/05 (see: LTC ‘Courtesy’ Seating), the Commissioners deflected it to Administration for response. Mr. John Ford (LTC Director of Transportation & Planning) replied on behalf of Administration in a letter dated 2008/09/30 (click on graphic icon to view the letter in it’s original entirety) which was finally received by me yesterday:

Courtesy seats are provided for those who could benefit from them on a first come first serve basis. While the operator can request passengers to vacate the seats to make room for others who may require these seats more pressingly, it is not mandatory for a person to do so – the ultimate decision to move lies with the passenger.

London Transit provides service to all customers including those that require strollers, wheelchairs and scooters, provided there is enough room on the bus to safely do so. On occasion, our operators may request that the passengers move to the back of the bus and that strollers be moved or folded to accomodate other passengers. Our operators take customer safety into consideration when making the decision as to whether there is enough room on the bus to allow more passengers on board.

Mr. Ford’s response completely ignores the contrary personal experience that I described in my submission to the Commission, ie the fact that I was ordered to change seats by an operator in order to accomodate a large non-collapsable buggy. He ignores my specific question about what recourse passengers have in such situations, ie “What procedure ought to be followed by a passenger when confronted by an operator in this situation?” LTC users deserve a clear response to the question.

Mr. Ford’s answer is also contrary to signage which has just recently appeared in some buses, which appears to accord priority to wheelchair users.

Mr. Ford makes no attempt to justify why large non-collapsable buggies are permitted onboard a bus during summer months, when smaller collapsable strollers could easily be used.

I asked a very specific, very understandable question with respect to carriers, ie “Does the LTC have an official policy with respect to child carriers (ie. size, type, etc?”

Mr. Ford’s response ignores that question. It fails to identify if there’s an official policy. It suggests that operators may have some discretionary power in this situation, but it doesn’t clearly say that either. Is Mr. Ford trying to be confusing? Is this an attempt at evasion? LTC users deserve better transparency than this.

Although Mr. Ford makes a passing reference to hierarchy of disabilities, he made no real attempt to answer the specific question which I put to the Commission, ie “Does the LTC have an official policy which clearly identifies a hierarchy of need with respect to the use of courtesy seats?”

My interpretation of his slippery response is that disabled LTC users are not accorded that respect. The LTC appears to want us to think that they’re caring and compassionate, but without actually having to be. Why not a straightforward answer, eg. ‘We’d rather not have to deal with the disabilities issue and so we let users figure it out for themselves’? or ‘Those people ought to all use Paratransit’?

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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.

London’s Traffic Enforcement Stinks

August 20, 2008

Three weeks ago, Phil McLeod penned an editorial in The Londoner which concluded that there needs to be more police enforcement of speed limits in London (‘Needed, more enforcement of speed limits.’) Sgt. Tom O’Brien (London Police Services) responded with an article of his own (‘More Enforcement to catch speeders won’t be enough‘). What did we learn?

Phil referred to “red light jumpers at every intersection.” Sgt. Tom admitted that “London drivers are running red and amber lights” and that “London drivers speed.”

Sgt. Tom wrote that because of stepped-up enforcement of aggressive drivers, police had 6,274 speeding tickets Y-T-D vs 5,050 for the same period last year, 446 red light tickets vs 407, and 99 amber light tickets vs 79. What that suggests to me is that police could have laid many more charges for these types of driver behaviours in the previous year if they had been as motivated to deploy their resources toward that end.

Sgt. Tom tells us that “with limited resources police must be selective in where we deploy our efforts.” In other words, we’re being told that there aren’t enough traffic enforcement officers and equipment to properly do the job. One can only guess how many tickets might have been issued had there been sufficient effort. That being the case, the numbers offered by Sgt. Tom are only mildly interesting, and cannot be used to understand the seriousness of the problem of dangerous driving in London.

The fact that fatalities have gone down can only be attributed to dumb luck.

Sgt. Tom tells us that “fines and enforcement are not enough to alter the distracted and selfish behaviour of many drivers.” That’s true. But it doesn’t excuse the lack of sufficient enforcement.

Sgt. Tom tells us that the problem of providing sufficient enforcement continues to increase along with urban sprawl. That’s something that concerned citizens have been saying loudly for years. And it’s not just police services that are negatively impacted. Other emergency services are similarly challenged to meet increased demand, at the same time that local politicians berate them for failing to stay within arbitrarily-imposed budget constraints.

Sgt. Tom claims that “roadside electric sign boards” are employed in the effort to combat speeding. Last time I inquired, I was ignored. Before that, Sgt. Tom told me that LPS only has a single device. Has that changed? I haven’t seen one since I tried to get police/politicians to attend to the dangerous Commissioners/King Edward Ave. intersection.

Why doesn’t LPS use dummy sign boards? For that matter, why aren’t dummy police vehicles being strategically located to slow down drivers?

We’re told that LPS is currently using two “ghost traffic cars which are virtually invisible to inattentive drivers.” In a city of this size and the continually increasing volume of traffic on our roads, that seems like a token gesture, at best. Why aren’t there many more?

London media seldom draws much attention on these subjects, so Mr. McLeod’s editorial was much appreciated by me. But it’s a drop in the bucket. There needs be much more scrutiny by London media before we’re likely to see much real action by local police/politicians. But given the way that they all ignored the way in which my applications to TAC and CSCPAC were secretly ‘handled’ that’s not likely going to happen.

Highbury Ave Bridge Restoration

May 29, 2008

KevBo avatarIs it just me or was the rehabilitation of the Highbury Ave Bridge not already started and completed a couple of months ago?
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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

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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! 😉

Core London, Ontario Intersection Unsunk

December 2, 2007

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LondonTopic reports that the Dundas/Wellington intersection that’s been closed since 2007/10/31 because of a 15′ sinkhole is scheduled to re-open to traffic in time for tomorrow’s morning rush-hour.

Links:
2007/10/31 – LFP: Downtown sinkhole stuns onlookers
2007/10/31 – TheAtavist: London, Ontario has an exciting day
2007/11/01 – BroadbandReports: Big sinkhole appears in London…
2007/11/01 – LondonFog: The giant sinkhole we refer to as London…
2007/11/02 – LFP: Infrastructure money defended
2007/11/05 – LFP: Sinkhole on council agenda
2007/11/21 – LondonTopic: Sinkhole and scathing report spawns…
2007/11/23 – DCN: Poll finds London residents believe…
2007/12/03 – LFP: It’s finally fixed

Deadly Auto Emissions

November 6, 2007

Toronto’s public health unit has just released a report (Air Pollution Burden of Illness from Traffic in Toronto) which identifies automobile-generated pollutants (carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide) as being responsible for premature human mortality. The report very clearly draws a corelation between a reduction in the number of automobiles on the road and saving human life.

Links:
http://www.toronto.ca/health/…
http://autos.canada.com/…

Green Transportation Hierarchy

April 29, 2007

The green transportation hierarchy is the basic concept behind transportation reform groups all over the world. The hierarchy puts city-friendly cyclists and pedestrians first. It rewards their low cost, space efficiency, and zero environmental impact. Trucks are not last because they perform vital commercial functions in cities. An important part of the green transportation hierarchy is that trucks get priority over personal automobiles for scarce curbside parking.

It’s in the Blood

January 30, 2006

JohnMcGuire.pngMy maternal grandfather, John Michael McGuire, was a native of London and a lifelong resident. A bus operator with the London Street Railway for 25 years, he was also an executive member of the Amalgamated Association of Street Electric Railway and Motor Coach Employees of America, Local 741, and a delegate from that union to the Trades and Labor Council for approximately the same period. He was a president of the London Trades and Labor Council, and he made 3 unsuccessful but creditable bids for alderman in Ward Four.

Presentation to CAPS

October 15, 2002

This is a transcript of the prepared portion of the presentation that I made to the CAPS Committee earlier this evening at City Hall:

Good evening, Councillors.

I come before you this evening in order to voice certain concerns that I have as a lifelong member of this community.

For far too long, I think, our elected representatives have succumbed to the well-financed lobby groups which have vociferously advocated holding the line on tax increases. Of course, this has never translated into any shortage of funding for particular pet projects, and many of those who have cried loudest for 0% increases have also championed new edifices of bricks & mortar, road extensions, ring roads, etc.

The things that have suffered most, are those things which we depend most upon the municipality to provide. Essential services like public housing, public transit, and emergency services.

It is on that last point that I wish to address you this evening. Specifically, the need for significantly increased funding of London Police Services.

It is not the first time that I have addressed the issue. Last year, Board of Control unexpectedly invited “ordinary” citizens to become part of the budget process and so I made a hurried and brief written submission. Since then I have written to various individual members of City Council. To date, I’ve not received a single response from any one of you.

I attempted to make a presentation to the London Police Services Board about my concerns and about the results of several surveys which I conducted, but was informed by that body that it was unwilling to deal with issues at my level. I consider that to be deplorable.

For several years I have communicated my concerns and several complaints to the Chief of Police. I have expressed my opinion on various radio talk shows and in press releases.

Much of the material is available for viewing on my Internet site. The URL is http://members.rogers.com/grefow/policing and I invite you to review it as part of your budget deliberations.

Incidentally, in addition to the individual copies of this presentation with which you have been provided, a copy of the presentation is also available on my web site.

Part of my concern is about the lack of deterrent in our community. The visible failure to enforce certain laws leads to an escalation of illegal behavior on the part of many citizens. Never before have I witnessed so many people and vehicles crossing intersections against red lights, railroad crossings with signals flashing, etc. I have posed the question before and I believe that it is even more relevant now than it was then – how much longer before our community begins to experience the horrendous problem with which Toronto seems plagued, and pedestrian deaths becomes commonplace? One of the most basic responsibilites of any elected person is the safety & protection of citizens.

Part of my concern is what I view as the discriminatory manner in which London Police Services enforces the Safe Streets Act against the most disenfranchised members of our community. Based upon my personal observations, I believe that there is a conscious effort to act against squeegee kids, street musicians, panhandlers and the like. At the same time, officers seem to be blind to other forms of illegal behaviour such as crossing against red lights, bicycling and rollerblading on sidewalks, illegal vehicle turns, etc.

The Police Chief claims discretionary power on the part of his officers. I say that such discriminatory enforcement of the law does bring disrepute upon our legal/justice system. If London Police Services is incapable of enforcing these lower-priority laws, then perhaps it is time that their enforcement be given over to municipal enforcement officers at substantially reduced cost.

In recent weeks London Police Services has announced community consultation meetings and a limited survey. But these consultations are mandated, and not necessarily because the police have any respect for the views of individual citizens or any willingness to enter into an honest dialogue.

In fact, my personal experience would indicate just the opposite. While the Police Chief now publicly admits that there is a severe shortage of officers, for a long time the written responses that I received steered clear of admitting the existence of any problem whatsoever, with carefully chosen language.

I have personally conducted surveys of illegal behaviours at the Dundas & Richmond Streets intersection, and specifically requested of the Police Chief that I be provided with data about the charges laid for those behaviours at that specific intersection. The reason, of course, is that it would have allowed me to compare that data with my own observations. Instead, the Chief provided me with city-wide data, and informed me that he would not release the more specific data which I had requested.

I became aware of the existence of a Citizen Advisory Committee with which the Police Chief apparently consults from time to time, but he has refused to release information about it which he characterizes as “personal” but which I believe should be accessible to every citizen.

Police response times for many occurrences in this community are simply ridiculous, and in many instances, there is simply no response at all. That was my personal experience recently when I called the police with respect to an incident which did happened in Councillor Winninger’s ward. You should be seriously concerned about the subsequent failure of the police to respond, and their failure to properly accept accountability for that fact.

On February 15, while walking my 4 year old grandson home from morning kindergarten, a compact truck suddenly backed out an inclined driveway with no prior warning save for a sound like a spring uncoiling. The vehicle was unoccupied and the ignition was not turned on at the time. Had it not been for my attentiveness and quick action, my grandson would surely have been struck by the vehicle.

I first attempted to address the situation by notifying the home’s occupants that the vehicle had rolled out onto the roadway. I then telephoned the London Police non-emergency number (661-5670) from my daughter’s home and left a message at approximately 12:10 p.m. The vehicle in question continued to obstruct the roadway until shortly before 1:00 p.m., when it was removed by persons unknown.

When there had been no response from the police after several hours, I visited the police station along with my daughter, my son-in-law, and my grandson. I described the situation to an officer on duty. With uncharacteristic honesty about their personnel problems, the officer disclosed that, because of a shortage of officers, the machine was unattended and that the messages would probably not be listened to before the weekend when things are typically “less busy.”

Finally, after more than a week had passed without any kind of a response, I filed a written complaint with the Police Chief on February 25, 2002 and asked for an investigation.

Time does not permit me to explain all that subsequently transpired, but suffice it to say for now that my subsequent complaint against London Police Services was dismissed by the Chief and by the Board.

I believe that there is a serious lack of accounability, that children are at risk, and I will be contacting Councillor Winninger shortly as well as Councillor Baechler who is my own ward councillor, in order to pursue this further.

Again, much of the material is available for viewing on my web site, and that which is not there now soon will be.

With that, I end my formal presentation, and I invite your questions.