Published on
The Vancouver Sun (Canada)

A Critical Mess? Yes It Is. If We Lock Up All Those Responsible for Current Traffic Problems, the Traffic Jams Would Be Gone.

Gary Engler

The Vancouver Sun editorial criticizing the Critical Mass bicycle ride did not go nearly far enough.

While the editorial cited cyclists for breaking the law, everyone knows the real reason for public anger is the traffic jams the rides create.

Well, I say everyone who causes a traffic jam and disrupts the peace of our city should be arrested and sent to jail for a long time. That would send a message and quickly clear our streets for the enjoyment of its citizens.

So, in descending order of responsibility for traffic jams, the following scoundrels should be arrested and locked up by police officers who should refocus away from less important duties, such as catching murderers, busting meth labs and chasing bank robbers. I say arrest and imprison:

All the developers over the years who built the houses which sprawl for scores of kilometres, making it almost inevitable that hundreds of thousands of Lower Mainland residents will use private vehicles to go to work, shop and go about their daily lives.

All the politicians and city planners who enabled these developers to build our sprawling suburbs.

All the developers, politicians and planners who continue to build roads and bridges that will funnel ever more traffic onto our streets.

Everyone who argues that wider and more roads are the solution to traffic problems, because all the evidence instead demonstrates more cars and therefore more congestion is the inevitable result. All those who choose to live too far from work to use public transit or walk or ride a bike.

All those who could use public transit or walk or ride but instead choose to drive, especially those hundreds of thousands who commute alone in their vehicles.

All those who object to well-planned densification of single family neighbourhoods.

Everyone in the tens of thousands of households with two or three or more vehicles when fewer would easily do.

All those who drive a vehicle that takes up more space than is absolutely necessary.

All owners of businesses, especially those located downtown, which provide free or subsidized parking to their employees.

All those who object to the expansion of rapid transit because they don't want to pay more taxes or for other reasons, including those westside residents who have blocked the building of the SkyTrain line to UBC because they wish to keep the riffraff out of their neighbourhood.

All those who object to the expansion of bike lanes and other means of getting people out of their cars and into more healthy ways of transport.

All those who discourage pedestrians and cyclists by aggressive driving because everyone who walks or rides made to feel unsafe is less likely to give up their car.

Finally, all those who promote an economic system that requires us to choose between ever more growth or the misery of depression/recession. In this car-addicted society that inevitably means more automobiles and therefore more traffic jams. One could argue that these people are the worst of all and should go to the top of the list, as the ultimate bad seeds.

Imagine how many fewer traffic jams there would be if all these people were put behind bars. If they were locked away before the next Critical Mass, my bet is that even10,000 bike riders in the downtown core would barely be noticed. But if they still cause a traffic jam and disrupt the peace, I say arrest them too and throw them in jail.

Gary Engler is a Vancouver Sun news editor (currently on a leave of absence), a cyclist and a recovering car addict who hasn't owned a vehicle in two-and-a-half years.

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