Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The facts on the ground, in the air, and underground

In Toronto so far this year:

- 14 people have died from being hit by cars while walking on the street

- 3 people have died from being killed by other people

- nobody has died from terrorism or plane crashes

- no TTC workers have died on the job from heart attacks, strokes, lead poisoning and so on, but it's our fault for not checking up on them while they nap

So, please be kind and inquire about the health of TTC workers as they sleep while earning the salary you pay for. If someone can make a short video of knocking on the glass at a collector booth because the pseudo-human inside didn't even look at you, much less talk, when you dared to buy tokens, I will send you a set of steak knives.

I would write more, but I'm unable to find words to describe the surreal arrogance and astonishing ability to lie of TTC union chief Bob Kinnear:

"It is very discouraging that the picture taker and, apparently, other customers, made no attempt to determine if there was anything wrong with this TTC employee,” said Bob Kinnear, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union."

Kinnear not only went on to criticize the passengers for laughing as his employee blissfully napped on the job, but he described their behaviour as "disturbing". If for some reason you were even remotely deceived by his slimeball tactics, just try imagining any other scenario. How about a cashier at Tim Hortons napping in front of a line of people? Would a spokesman berate those customers for not inquiring about the health of the cashier?


andré said...

I don't know how closely you've been following "THE YEAR OF THE CAR" but every day, it seems, the police chief or someone else always makes sure to say that it's "as much the pedestrian's fault as the car's", which I understand to a point, but don't agree with, because I'd say you have a much greater responsibility as a car driver than as a pedestrian to pay attention, just for the simple fact that you might kill someone... You're driving a weapon. As a pedestrian you should be aware that you're surrounded by weapons, and act accordingly, but ultimately the responsibility rests with the driver (assuming the pedestrian isn't dashing in the street across four lanes of roaring traffic).

More drivers who hit pedestrians should be charged with manslaughter, it's weird that so few are (I think one or two of the 14?--which implies that the vast majority of the accidents were the--most likely suicidal--pedestrian's fault).

Damn, man. Just damn. Cars have primacy, power, and authority in the pedestrian/car relationship, even at Yonge/Bloor and Yonge/Dundas, and not recognizing that seems the result of a willful blindness that's almost pathological. Not to get too marxist, but the pedestrian cyclist is the underclass, constantly reminded that he/she is so, simply by the fact that whenever a car acts poorly, if the cyclist/pedestrian doesn't defer to him, that cyclist or pedestrian is dead. The pedestrian/cyclist doesn't really have a voice in the pedestrian/cyclist/car relationship, a relationship that is fundamental to the planning of cities, and it seems like (in Toronto at least) they're not even invited to the conversation.

I mean, as a cyclist, why was I charged with "rolling through a stop-sign", (almost twice in the same day--that's another story, though) fined, and demerited THREE points (the same as for a motor vehicle), when I'm constantly passed, doing that (at a slower than normal pace) by cars coming to complete stops--I have a much larger field of view, can stop faster, do less danger, stop if someone else is coming, etc, and most cars anticipate not having to stop, or race me to the stop sign, even in the most inclement whether, when I'm exposed to rain or hail or whatever and they're on their cellphone, sipping coffee, and sitting in comfort???? What a generalization.

This issue really gets me riled up. I am a deferential cyclist, a (mostly) passive pedestrian. What makes me angry is the way that motorists time and time again abuse (or attempt to abuse) the courtesy that I extend to them on the road, in the lane, etc, etc. And other things. This comment is a large, disordered, rambling, verging on the insane. I have to go to court on the 4th. That's what I'm thinking about right now.

Adeel said...

I agree that drivers do frequently break laws and abuse the massive sense of entitlement that the roads provide them. At the same time, as things are, if a pedestrian does something unexpected, it makes it hard for drivers to adjust, who are simply acting the way convention has allowed them to act. A car is more deadly, but drivers shouldn't bear primary responsibility for the safety of pedestrians.

andré said...

No, that's true. But if a pedestrian pays with his life, shouldn't a driver face some consequence? Supposing the pedestrian wasn't doing anything too out of the norm. I mean, crossing the street today I've noticed a lot of cars speeding up because they assumed I'd be out of the way by the time they got there--which I was. But isn't speeding up when someone is in front of you reckless behaviour, regardless of whether or not convention allows them to act that way? (None of these cars were exceeding the speed limit.) I mean, what if I tripped in a sinkhole? Or was hit in the head, from behind, by a flying squirrel? These are the kinds of hypotheticals I worry about.

(Sorry about the above rant.)

Adeel said...

You're right that the consequences of mistakes grossly uneven. If it could be proven that a driver accelerated for whatever stupid reason and a pedestrian crossing the street fell and died, the driver should certainly be held responsible.

andré said...

Today, the Star announced a "War on Jaywalking" (kind of), complete with an itemization of the "four species of jaywalkers". Man o' man. See if you can find it.

In the article they say "many of the killed pedestrians were described as in the process of jaywalking by police and onlookers"... Many, but what are the exact numbers? How many is many? Of course, they could've said most, I'm paraphrasing, but even "most" is a bit loaded--is it 8 or 13? Knowing the Star it could be either. They mention a woman killed by a pedestrian crossing, but not in it, because she crossed at another point. In another source, that driver was reported as saying "I just didn't see her." Would a pedestrian crossing really have helped much in that instance? (A driver not "seeing" a pedestrian.)(Assuming visibility is equal, which it might not be--after all, that could be the reason for the crossing.)

They ask what's going wrong, but purely from a car owner's point of view: the pedestrian is the one causing this disturbance. I understand it's a complicated issue, but you have to admit there's a significant amount of blindness attending it.

What do you think of jaywalking? Should we be allowed to do it at all? The Star even mocks those pedestrians who do it safely, even when there are no cars around, calling them "chickens". It's really the most hypocritical paper... and that encyclopedia of jaywalkers was on the front page.

Riyaad said...

I was about to send you the link to the story about the sleeping TTC worker, but I'm glad you're keeping up.