Wednesday, March 25, 2009




Peace will flow through you, Namaste! Shalommm! Ma’sala’m!



Now that we’re all at peace again…


I have had it up to here with all these frikken aps-holes who don’t pay attention while they drive!  All these rules that we have for driving are for everybody!  That includes YOU, Mr. And Ms. Policeperson who don’t signal, or turn on the gumballs (emergency lights) when you want to run a light.  Stop signs mean you stop your car nose AT them not with your back wheels crossing them, either!  And for Crise sakes everybody SIGNAL!  All cars today have them, they aren’t an option, like the ashtray or heated seats.  And back off!  I’m gonna start throwin’ buns out thru the sunroof.  If one hits your hood, then you’re too frikken close!



I’m sure that everyone has felt that their driving skill is better than some other’s that they’ve seen out there.  I’ve been driving since I was 14.  Yes, some of you won’t believe me, but there once was an interesting clause which allowed Farmer’s children (who worked the family farm) to drive farm vehicles to and from on farm business from the age of 14 without any licensing.  I’m not sure if it still exists, but so it was when I was 14.  My mom often let me drive (most of our vehicles were Farm licensed) our ’63 Morris Mini Woody-Wagon.  I’d go pick up bags of feed, or the folks home after too many Black Russians during supper.  We had many different trucks on the farm too.  My favourite was a ’70 Dodge Power Wagon crew-cab which we bought from the Abbotsford airport.  It was originally Bright Canary-yellow and had a stupid slant-six in it, which was removed and replaced with a 440 V-8 and twin Holley 4 barrels .  Hauled ass!  As well as about 46 bales of timothy when you stacked it right.  There were the Army trucks, too (I never got to drive them much, they were Stepdad’s toys), and there was a ’46 ford 2-ton flatdeck, “Montgomery”.  So, anywayI CAN DRIVE!

I’ve had my share of all kinds of vehicles; large, small, powerful and weak.  I’ve ridden motorcycle since I was about 8 (mini-bikes in the back field) and clear up and over the Rockies when I was 16 on a Honda 350 twin in through a deluge of rain (another story) from Kamloops to Edmonton, non-stop.

I’ve driven throughout Europe. From Austria to Holland, England to Munich, and Berlin to Switzerland.  I’ve driven in the Middle-East; the southern border of Lebanon to the Dead Sea, from Damascus to the Jordanian frontier.  I have seen many kinds of drivers.  And I have come to the conclusion:  We are getting worse. 

When I first moved to Victoria, I was broke.  Dead broke.  I got a job at Harvey’s Hamburgers as it first opened up near Mayfair.  I was living in Royal Oak with Mom in a 20 foot trailer.  I had no car, or motorcycle at the time and commuted daily on a 10-speed bicycle.  I had to follow the rules of the road, but I never really was worried.  It seemed that most of the traffic paid attention well enough, and gave me lots of space.  Eventually I saved enough and bought a motorbike, a ’73 Honda 500-four.  Nice small bike, one of my favourites while it lasted.  I got creamed one night while crossing Royal Oak drive by a Vega turning left who ran a stop sign and “Didn’t see me”.  When the cops showed up the officer told me, “There’s a strange smell of pot in the car”.  ”But we can’t do anything about it”.  Ahh, the early ‘80s were a different time.  Honda totalled.

Skip forward to today.  I have been more aware since that last accident.  I pay attention more than I would.  I notice more things out there.  I drive very defensively; as if I were on the bike all the time.  And I still see things that piss me off!  Since the proliferation of this “Cell-phone thingy”, most of us have simply de-evolved, (We are ALL DEVO!)  We seem to think it normal to juggle coffee cups, text-messaging, in-truck Karaoke and tailgating all at the same time.

All this goes on and we have new things to worry about: Baby-Boomers.  More specifically: Baby-boomers on Bicycles.  About 10 years ago there was this “hurry-up-and-get-fit-before-you-die” craze started by someone on a ten-speed.  Rampant vegetarianism, followed by Oak Bay Bicycle expanding along with the invention of Bicycle lanes on the Pat-bay highway (not exactly true, but it may as well be!).  For me the kicker was that stupid “Blue Bike only” stop they put on the turn-out to the Johnson street bridge.  Now we have a whole mess of the BBBs (Baby-boomer-bikes) all smugly passing lines of traffic on the right, getting in front of them, then holding them all up as they slowly make their way around the corner.  Stupidity.  Then there’s the emancipation of the local pedestrians.  Within the last 10 or so years, apparently pedestrians no longer have to obey the walk/don’t walk signals.  As long as there’s no car within twenty feet of you, it’s your right – nay, obligation to walk out wherever you chose to.  If it impedes the flow of traffic, or makes a 2-tonne vehicle slam on its brakes, it’s ok.  Oh, and those pedestrian-controlled lights?  You know the kind where you push the button and 20 seconds later, the signal stops the cars?  It is obligatory to push them whenever you pass them.  Whether or not you intend to wait or even use the crosswalk they protect.

Good lord.  Where did all the common sense go?  Have we shot it into space with the lunar-landers?  Did that “Dr. Spock” book that all our new, first time mothers all read tell us that “children are all geniuses, no need to tell them anything”. ( -Frikken WRONG!  Morgan thinks they ALL should’ve taken Thalidomide instead!) 

Most of the problem with bad traffic lies with our lack of enforcement.  I agree, that many of our rules and regulations about traffic would be better understood and heeded if there were more of a chance that the offenders would be punished.  If the j-walking peds would get a $50 ticket or the cyclist who passes on the right or impedes more than 3 motor-vehicles they’d pay the fine.  Or if a driver of a 4x4 doesn’t stop at the stop sign they’d get 3 points on their license.  Or the police officer who speeds against posted signs (without their emergency lights on, their vehicle is not an emergency vehicle) would be treated as any other driver would.  If there were “Traffic” cops like there used to be.  If we didn’t feed the population of “Seagull Homeless” requiring more police be devoted to them… etc, etc.  If we ALL had common sense!

What if…?  What if we took down all the left lane merge signs?  (nobody knows how to merge anyway.)  I had a random thought about a year ago, and apparently I wasn’t the only one.  What if we simply removed all the traffic signs, lights, lines and controls?  There was a town in Holland that has actually done this (The Dutch town of Drachten adopted this “unsafe is safe” approach in 2007 and found that casualties at one junction dropped from thirty-six over the previous four years to only two in the two years following the removal of traffic lights. Traffic jams no longer occur in the town’s main junction, which handles 22,000 cars a day. The town is “Verkeersbordvrij,” meaning “free of traffic signs.” (I am grateful to Jonathan Zittrain’s reference to Drachten’s experiment in his new book, The Future of the Internet and How to Stop It, and to Wikipedia for its account of “shared space.” ) –quoted from ).  The results may surprise.  I’d love to see this here.  If the police, who are in charge of ensuring that driving law and regulations are upheld, were freed to attend other more pertinent instances, our neighbourhoods would be more crime-free!  Drivers would have to be self-policing (in a way).  I’m sure we’d still see the 10-20 teenagers kill themselves and three other passengers each year (month?).  We’d still have family members putting up memorials to their stupid kids on their “birthday”, attaching shiny happy pictures to the tree that their dumb-ass teenager smacked into, while trying to break the sound-barrier in Mom’s Pontiac.  These deaths happen even though we are regulated to the teats right now.  I can live with these deaths.  I believe that attrition is all part of normal evolution of a society.  Why can’t we try this…?  Teach your children to be responsible.  Responsibility towards others.  Let’s teach respect.  Respect that cars, motorcycles, buses and large semi-trucks all weigh more than you do.  Understand that each of them may need more time to stop than just one meter.  Respect.  Sometimes someone trying to parallel-park needs to stop and take up the lane for a few moments.  Respect that short time.  Or don’t follow so close and simply go around them! 

Whichever path we eventually go down, regulated or self-policing, the one thing that make both ways work is… Respect


Peace will flow through you, Namaste! Shalommm! Ma’sala’m!


fart.  oops.

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