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De-Policing Our Streets

Way back in 2013, I wrote this about the long, sad, futile attempts to tame car traffic along King Street West to open up room for regular and reliable streetcar service.

I bring this up now because back in 2001, city staff wrote up a report outlining why an earlier attempt to minimize car traffic along King Street failed. An excerpt: “In the early 1990’s…”

In the early 1990s — incredulousness is mine.

“… general traffic was prohibited from driving on the streetcar tracks on King Street, through the downtown, during peak periods. This was to be effected through the use of overhead signs and pavement markings, some of which are still in place today… However, this ‘passive’ system of deterrents didn’t work; motorists did, and continue to, ignore it.”

Let’s pull apart “this ‘passive’ system of deterrents” not working.

Motorists continued to ignore the deterrents for one simple reason: lack of enforcement. If you’re getting dinged for ignoring traffic deterrents, receiving fines and maybe even some demerit points, I’d bet drivers would stop ignoring said traffic deterrents. So, could one assume that @TPS has been blithely ignoring the will of city staff and elected officials for at least 30 years now, at least when it comes to traffic enforcement?

As I’ve tweeted here recently, just take a seat on a patio anywhere along the King Street transit corridor and witness the lack of enforcement there.

Or this from @judemacdonald last week:

Police decide the ‘passive system of deterrents’ were just too confusing for motorists, so just give them a pass on obeying the rules of the road.

Meanwhile, in High Park, a police blitz ticketing cyclists going over the speed limit:

And a reasonable question being asked about the @TPS traffic enforcement priorities:

A reasonable question **not** being asked (at least publicly) by our elected officials including Mayor Tory who also sits on the TPS board and the local councillor.

Why?

Can you imagine another city department or agency utilizing its resources in a questionable fashion **not** being question by our elected officials?

Why is the @TPS exempt from such basic oversight?

Why have we allowed what is the largest budget item the city has to simply ignore instructions given to it by our elected officials, and do so without having to justify their actions?

I say, Defund the @TPS of their traffic enforcement arm. Bring it in house and set up a organization that is answerable to the elected officials that fund them and the citizens they are supposed to serve and protect on our city streets.

I know, I know. Boo-hoo. Privileged cyclists all up in arms while the province’s health system teeters and the earth burns. Priorities in these troubled times, right? But what we’re talking about is a misallocation of public funds, with seemingly little oversight or even so much as a justification.

If policing isn’t ultimately answerable to our elected officials, what kind of democracy is that?

The End.

For now.

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