When did Drivers become the New Smokers?

Reading the various coverage about traffic in Vancouver during the 2010 Olympics, I was struck about how social attitudes change.

In the 1970’s, if you recycled, you were pretty much a hippie freak. A scant couple of decades later, if you didn’t recycle, you were an earth hating jerk.

Again in the 1970’s, most adults were smokers – decades later, a minority (at least in British Columbia) that’s become so powerless that the majority of anti-smoker groups seem to have moved on to their new target:

Car Drivers.

There was a lot of pressure on drivers during the Olympics – parkades and roads closed. Easy information for pedestrians, cyclists and transit users – but generally scant information for drivers other than be one of the other three commuters.

What was frustrating was the utter lack of regard for drivers who drive for a living or commuters for whom transit is actually not a reasonable option.

For myself, a transit commute would be twice as much time as driving and since there’s two of us, cost about the same as driving and parking.

So, not actually any benefit since I don’t really want a nearly 2 hour commute at each end of the day – or the motion sickness that goes with transit.

The other reason that I don’t like transit is pretty much the other passengers. They bathe in perfume, reek of hair and hygiene products or from the lack of same, performance talk inanely and loudly on cell phones as if cells were a status symbol rather than the ubiquitous annoyance that they are, be forced to be a captive audience for teens who don’t realize that no one else cares what happened in school or in their life lessons (clue, you haven’t lived long enough to have wisdom to share with the class) and on rarer occasions, the other passengers are dangerous.

I’ve been on transit were 2 young men got into a fist fight, where men have been sexually aggressive to women – verbally, exposing themselves or actually rubbing up against anything female. And that’s before you get into muggers, random assaults, crazy people. There was even a twosome of young teen girls who would lure older men for a sex romp and then beat and roll them instead.

In our car, my spouse and I share quality time, listen to audio books, and are comfortable seating and temperature wise. If traffic is bad, we can take another route or pull over and have a meal or coffee or run an errand.

On transit, you are just trapped and stuck. Unless you can get off and catch a taxi….

Back to this attitude shift.

Drivers in the Greater Vancouver Regional District (“GVRD”) (basically all the cities in the lower mainland of BC) are being tapped and not even kissed on the mouth.

We are compound taxed (that’s a tax that on other taxes) at the gas station, we are getting a 35% parking tax hike, we are paying insurance and on new car purchases, there’s a vehicle levy tax.

Pretty soon, there won’t be any drivers left to squeeze. And that is not a good thing, considering how much tax revenue is derived from drivers.

So, here’s some suggestions for government levels and transit boards:

1. Make cyclists buy insurance and have licenses & plates too.

Use the revenue to underwrite the creation of bike paths that are separate when possible from roads. A collision between a cyclist and pedestrian results in less damage than a vehicle and a cyclist.

This also changes the assumption that it’s always the car to blame for any collision between the two.

Personally, I live in fear of a cyclist coming out of nowhere – and usually through a stop sign – smash into me and the cyclist dies and leaving me to sue their estate to cover my vehicle damage and trauma. Let them carry insurance to respond.

Let cyclists get tickets for bad driving as a revenue stream and to weed out the bad ones.

If they want to use the same roads, then they should share in the costs as a user. Even a 10 to 15% of what vehicles pay would make a big difference.

2. Transit Fees Restructuring and Transit Boards.

I don’t know about other places, but in the GVRD, you pay for how many transit zones you cross. They classify 3 zones, but if you travel from Surrey to West Vancouver, it’s technically 4.

Each transit ticket gives you 90 mins of travel.

You pay more for how many zones you cross. So, if you live close to a boundary that you work on the other side of, you pay for two zones for maybe 10 mins of travel.

Who wants to do that?

Why not get rid of the zones and have people pay in increments of 15 minutes of travel?

That seems fairer to me, the heavier the user, the more they pay for the service they get.

Paying on buses is good because a driver it there to ensure the person does pay – but the rapid transit system is on your honour. Put in turnstiles or put in an employee ticket checker at each platform entrance. It took them long enough to make the tickets only work in the stamping machines one way.

Replace the paper tickets with plastic cards with magnetic stripes – if coffee shops can use refillable cards, transit can too. That alone should be a cost savings over time.

Oh, and for translink specifically, reduce the number of board members and their salaries – better yet, make the boards be mayors again so there is some accountability and repercussions for their decisions.

Eliminate fake costs by not giving politicians, high ranks transit employees and other VIPs lifetime transit passes that they are never going to use.

Oh, and anyone on the transit board should be forced to use transit for all their travels – if you’re going to force anyone out of their cars, then these are the people who should be leading the way.


Here’s a place to tell them:

thanks Kim for the link!

7 thoughts on “When did Drivers become the New Smokers?

  1. Two things:

    First, your notion of “1. Make cyclists buy insurance and have licenses & plates too.”

    That’s a nice fantasy which contradicts with the reality of attitudes by drivers, police and the courts. Most cyclists obey the law, and even for the few who don’t, they aren’t the issue. The biggest problem is that most pigs and judges treat cyclists as an annoyance with no right to the road, and they WILL NOT enforce the law against drivers who break it. Look up Critical Mass and growing number of instances where the pigs abuse and violate the rights of cyclists involved in it.

    Cyclists must be given the same legal protection and rights as car drivers and pedestrians, and the same enforcement of the laws against drivers when they break the law or endanger cyclists.

    There has to be a change in the attitude of those around the cyclists, or else your idea is to place the blame and responsibility on cyclists without any of the rights. Cyclists are no worse than drivers when it comes to obeying the rules of the road. You’re blaming the victim instead of the cause.

    Second, cars are a temporary phenomenon in human history. Oil will pass US$150 again within five years, and US$300 within ten. Cars are going to be abandoned and cyclists will rule the roads. I’m going to be laughing as my then 50+ year old self will be fit and racing along at 30-40km/h while fat and unhealthy people moan and groan about the good old days that never were.

    The dinosaurs died out because they were too big to survive the “winters” caused by a meteor impact, while smaller creatures survived and thrived because they needed less to survive and there was less food available. The same will happen when oil is too expensive to use for transportation, and even moreso because of coming food shortages (most commercial fertilizers are made from oil products).

    People misinterpret Charles Darwin’s ideas as being “survival of the fittest” instead of what he meant, “suvival of the best adapted” when catastrophic change happens. In the case of cyclists and car drivers, however, both statements will be true when oil is gone.

    • I agree with you on the what Darwin said – it is adapted, not physically fit, stronger or any limited specific characteristic.

      Your take that I am casting the cyclists as victims is interesting and unexpected – I think that undertaking responsibilities is what earns you the rights that result.

      The driver of the larger vehicle, whether it’s a semi-truck to a car or a car to a cyclists – has a certain extra duty of care since they have the capacity for causing the greater damage – not that the smaller vehicles can act stupid around the larger ones.

      I have a similar problem with the campaigns making car drivers responsible for motorcycle safety too – as if the motorcycles are somehow okay to drive on the shoulder or down the centre line between lanes.

      If motorcycles kept to the same rules of the road – no weaving around traffic, merging and passing when there’s actually room instead of barely missing a collision….

      In Vancouver, the Critical Mass rides get police escorts blocking intersections because the critical mass ride doesn’t obey any traffic rules – and their point about environmentalism is lost when they are causing massive gridlock causing excessive exhaust and the point about sharing the road is lost when they are hogging it to the expense of everyone else on the road.

      Personally, I never believed the meteor/dinosaur extinction – most dinosaurs were already extinct before that event – and it’s in dispute in mainstream science, not just fringes.

      I lean more towards a series of event, maybe a meteor and a supervolcano – whatever the dramatic cause

      climate change is responsible for mass extinctions – the creatures alive failed to adapt to changes in environments which changes the food supply.

  2. I am SO tired of the holier-than-thou types that have a hate-on against vehicles…the same types that live in the city near transit points. If vehicles really WERE eliminated, that would require a mass of people moving into the cities and thereby causing
    — huge jumps in rental rates and housing (which in the GVRD is bad enough)
    — shortages in the availability of the same
    — huge jumps in municipal costs (to cover the vast increase in services to be provided)
    — associated increases in other costs such as food, etc (as retailers pass on their increased municipal et al costs)

    boy, these twits would REALLY be screaming then!

    • Where I live, I have to commute through an area of Vancouver where many front yards have signs demanding drivers use transit.

      Never mind that for the expansion of the Patullo Bridge that they are complaining about – that only seven percent of the rush hour traffic over the bridge is actually coming into Vancouver – 93% is going to the suburbs before Vancouver – Coquitlam, New Westminster, Burnaby.

      Can’t let facts get in the of an uninformed but strongly held opinion.

  3. Hey girl, just an update, they still have the free family pass available, but now rev. Canada has said it has to be taxed, so those of us who had one and only used it occasionally have returned it, not worth the cost associated.

    I love your final statement, maybe then, we would see more improvements in the system!

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