Cars Don’t Kill People

January 28, 2010

Beware Drivers Of Toronto! Crazed Pedestrians Running Amok! Stepping Distractedly Into Streets Like Zombies! Damaging Cars! Killing Them Only Encourages More Erratic Behaviour!

In our ever escalating war on cars, the ranks of foot soldiers grow thin. Reduced to throwing themselves at the enemy like desperate kamikaze, they are not only losing their lives but — even worse — they are losing in the battle of public opinion. No motorists have been killed so far, yet they are being portrayed as the put upon victims. Innocent bystanders subjected to the onslaught of jaywalking pedestrians, darting in and out of traffic like rabid squirrels. All that stands between the valiant road warriors and certain death is a mere 1500-2000 kilograms of motor vehicle.

Has there ever been a worse time to be sitting behind the wheel of a car?

I would expect this type of demagoguery from 3 out of our 4 daily rags but to wake up yesterday morning to hear Metro Morning’s Andy Barrie interviewing a CBC producer about the trauma she’s endured after having accidentally, and through no fault of her own, killed a man with a truck she was driving, well, it was too much. Too, too much. While I’m sure the guilt and second guessing must be painful and long lasting, hey, I’d take that over being dead, I think.

The insufferable index rose alarmingly higher when Ms. Borel talked of how, when the police investigation of the accident was over and she was cleared of any wrong doing, she got right back up on that proverbial horse and drove the truck away, fearing that if she didn’t, she might never drive again. Wouldn’t that have been tragedy! One less driver on the road.

Later on in the same show, Andy talked with the Superintendent of Toronto Police Traffic Services, Earl Witty who advised pedestrians to be more vigilant and obey the rules of the road. Even when pedestrians think they have the right of way in a situation with a car, Witty stressed, they should never assume the driver thinks likewise. You may be in the right but you would be dead right. At which time both he and Andy chuckled mirthlessly along with their listeners. Witty then talked about how the police would be on a safety blitz, ticketing jaywalkers and other pedestrian traffic offenders to get their point across.

With only two drivers apparently charged in the 14 pedestrian deaths in the GTA so far this year, I guess the take away lesson is that in 86% of the fatalities, the victim has been solely to blame; the authors of their own demise. It’s a jungle out there, people. You have to be on your toes at all times. Never let your guard down. Even if you’re absolutely in the clear, keep your eyes peeled (but certainly not your ear to the ground especially if you’re in dark clothes) because drivers can’t always see you or come to a complete stop at a red light before making a right turn or treat that stoplight that’s such a stale yellow that in fact it’s red and not speed up and barrel through it or make an illegal u-turn in the middle of the street or just throw out the anchors and stop up short in a fucking bike lane…

It’s like we’re endorsing the bully principle. Even when the sniveling weakling is blameless, he’s going to get his ass handed to him because, ultimately, might makes right.

But how come if pedestrians are being advised to operate under the assumption that danger lurks around every street corner, a similar onus not placed on drivers? They’re the ones riding around in the killing machines. As Spiderman’s uncle said: With great power comes great responsibility. Drivers should drive as if there’s a child crouching behind every parked car they pass, waiting to bolt out in front of them. Drivers should drive not like they’re kings of the road or cocks of the walk but with the knowledge of the pain and suffering they can inflict due to inattention on anyone’s part. Drivers should drive as if it’s a privilege and not a God given right.

indignantly submitted by Urban Sophisticat


Not All Near Accidents Are Accidents

January 16, 2010

Now, I don’t nor does anyone I know at all well own a “magenta-ishish” coloured PT Cruiser (although I think the colour may be more of an Inferno Red Tinted Pearlcoat or possibly even a Tangerine Pearlcoat in an earlier GT model), so this is all very hypothetical, you understand. But it’s not unreasonable to suspect that my esteemed colleague’s “brush with death” as he wrote about yesterday may have had less to do with a random, out of control driver and more to do with… ahhh, an optimized situational opportunity, let’s call it. And again, I’m just tossing out some ‘what ifs’ and ‘or maybe then agains’ here.

You see, on more than a few occasions over drinks at the bar of a local spirit selling establishment I have witnessed a certain someone draw the ire of fellow patrons with an unfortunate ill-timed use of what would otherwise be considered a spectacular bon mot. Other times there are those within earshot who don’t take to the colourful (mostly blue) language being bandied about and not always, necessarily, hurled in their general direction. And yes, who among us hasn’t seen misunderstandings arise over the term “open marriage”? Open can mean very different things to different people.

The point is, twice (possibly three as I’m not at all fluent in Portuguese) over the holiday season alone I heard threats uttered of — and I’m paraphrasing here — running someone down like a dog if they ever see them in street, you so-and-so and such-and-such. Whether or not they came from those owning a “magenta-ishish” coloured PT Cruiser, I don’t know. At least not for sure.

So before we all go and get our outrage knickers in a twist over negligent, inattentive drivers wreaking havoc on our roads and sidewalks, let’s make sure that we separate the true offenders from those who are far more deliberate in their actions. I think there may be some people behind the wheel of their car who are very, very premeditated and know exactly what they’re doing.

I’m not saying. I’m just saying.

suggestively submitted by Cityslikr


Destroyers Of Cities

January 15, 2010

(And no, I am not unaware of the irony in this title given yesterday’s post. If it makes you uncomfortable, let’s call it:)

I Hate Cars.

Always have. Never learned to drive. Never felt driven (ha, ha) to learn.

Automobiles are a blight on the well being of any right thinking urban citizen. They bring out the anti-social tendencies in their inhabitants. They’re noisy. They emit noxious fumes. They demand unreasonable amounts of space that far exceed their actual dimensions. In short, cars suck.

Here’s my case in point.

There I was yesterday morning, ambling through the bustling downtown U of T campus with nothing more on my mind than whether to buy myself a pumpernickel rye or oat bran bagel for breakfast. A massive recycling truck pulls up to a stop in the road in front of me and begins to back up into the laneway to my left, stopping traffic both ways. I pop out in front of the truck in order to cross the street, assuming that the driver of the car zipping along in the opposite direction is going to stop because he has no where to go, what with this huge truck blocking the roadway.

Imagine my surprise and not a little fearful shock when I’m forced to pull up short as this fucking jag-off driver swerves up onto the sidewalk and continues on his merry way, clearing an even bigger path of pedestrians as he does before jumping back down onto the road once he passes the truck. No wave or little honk of contrition. He doesn’t even so much as look at me as he goes by. Thereby, I guess, rendering me non-existent in his mind.

Like I said, I’m not a driver but isn’t using the sidewalk in your car illegal? Aren’t there fines for that kind of infraction? Is my outrage unreasonable?

So to you driver of a magenta-ishish convertible PT Cruiser, may an errant piece of scrap metal fly off a poorly packed truck of junk and cut through the permeable material roof of your car and impale you between the eyes (give or take a few centimeters). It won’t kill you. That would be too easy and merciful. Instead, the object will rip into the language centre of your brain, rendering whatever tongue it is you speak in, useless to you. In its place, you will only be able to communicate in short, yappy yelps that one normally associates with a Pomeranian or Yorkshire Terrier. (I have seen stranger things on the Discovery Channel). So instead of roaming the city streets wild, terrorizing pedestrians, your life will be little more than that of a sideshow circus freak, great to have for short bouts of entertainment at drunken dinner parties but then locked away for most of the day up in the attic along with other socially embarrassing relatives.

See? This is what I’m talking about. Cars only serve to bring out the worst in us. The sooner they’re banished from our lives, the better we’ll all get along.

indignantly submitted by Urban Sophisticat