Koba and I are asking you nicely.
Really, people, it’s a no-brainer. We shouldn’t even have to ask. It’s part of living in the city and being a good neighbour.
I touched on this a few weeks ago in a post about my attempt to get part of a local green space declared an off-leash area. The upshot of that was that it’s not going to happen any time soon, but in terms of on-the-ground realities, local residents and users of the space — parents, kids, students, dogs and dog people — have established an informal modus vivendi whereby everyone lives and lets live. We look the other way, we keep our dogs under control, we pick up the empty booze bottles, and we try to keep it cool. It’s that old spirit of generosity and accommodation. To the extent that the no-dogs rules are enforced, it’s on a haphazard and occasional basis, and it’s complaint-driven.
So it stands to reason, then, that it’s in all of our interests not to generate reasons for complaints. Which brings me to the prosaic and yucky trigger for this little rant: people who don’t pick up after their dogs.
Seriously, people? Seriously? No, really. Seriously? Do I have to walk you through this?
If you leave dog shit where kids are playing, sooner or later someone’s going to get it on them. Angry parents complain, as they have every right to do, and before you know it the neighbourhood is up in arms and the by-law officers are handing out tickets and a nice neighbourly vibe is poisoned. All because some asshole couldn’t be bothered to assume the most basic responsibility of dog ownership / dog stewardship.
Come on, folks. A lot of life’s little aggravations can be avoided if you just follow one simple rule. Remember the old truism about how it only takes one asshole to ruin things for everyone? Don’t be that asshole.
The amazing and energetic @yvonnebambrick appears in this timely report wherein the chairman of the Toronto Police Services Board calls for an updated and responsive approach to the way dooring incidents are tracked.
No point in going through all the facts, again, about how and why cycling is growing in popularity — exercise, agility, gridlock, environment, and all that. Working to make cycling safer, as a matter of public policy, ought to be a no-brainer, no?
And yet, incredibly, it seems we’re still having to fight this battle from square one. Not only are we ripping out bike lanes, we’re still hearing braying from certain Neanderthals for the removal of even more cycling infrastructure. The current administration’s hostility to cyclists and cycling is a matter of record, of course, but it’s not just a matter of stupidity or coarsening public discourse; it has real and tangible effects on public safety.
In some of my smart-assier moments, I quip about this being another front in the War On The Car. I kid, of course, but we all know there are people, too many people, who actually see it that way. They’re serious. I don’t know how to educate, reach out, or engage them, and I’m the first to admit that’s probably not one of my strong points, but then I’ve got cyclist friends who’ve almost gotten killed by asshole motorists, so forgive me if my first reaction isn’t one of diplomacy and understanding.
Really, this isn’t a Downtown Elitist thing. Plenty of people ride bicycles, for whatever reason. They shouldn’t have to feel that they’re taking their lives in their hands every time they mount up.
Bit of a change-up here, folks.
Usually it’s Daren who gets into the specifics and applies his wonderful witty blend of deconstruction, observation and analysis, while yours truly drops in every now and then with the windy, sententious “let’s all take a step back and put this into a bit of historical context,” yada yada yada.
Bit different today. I had some friends over yesterday, and one of them, a far more committed cyclist than I, was describing a confrontation she recently had with a motorist. She brought video. Because the matter’s still before the legal system, I won’t name names or get into specifics.
In brief, she had words with a guy in a van who yelled at her to get off the road, arguing that “roads are for cars.” Now where have we heard that before? She retorted, quite correctly, that as a cyclist she had just as much right to be on the road as him. Next thing you know, the son of a bitch literally ran her off the road with his truck. On purpose. She had to be hospitalized. She needed stitches. Thank god she didn’t break any bones.
But there’s a lesson here, and it goes beyond the specific circumstances of this one incident. Anyone who rides a bike in Toronto’s more than likely to have had words with a hostile motorist or gotten the door prize or any of a number of hazards that cyclists have to face on a regular basis.
Now, recall one of Daren’s recent posts about some of the people who drive private automobiles and their sense of entitlement:
There’s no war on the car going on. It’s the exact opposite. This is all about the over-weening sense of entitlement and primacy in the minds of those using their private vehicles as their sole source of getting around the city. … a car driver’s sense of their right to the road is boundless.
That’s part of the context. Add to that the consistent drumbeat of hostility and vindictiveness toward cyclists from certain sectors of Toronto’s political sphere and it’s not too hard to draw the connection to my friend’s experience. In brief, as I’ve argued previously,
it’s become more socially acceptable, among a certain segment of the population, to abuse, threaten and even assault cyclists and other users of the road.
Now, maybe it’s just me and my white male privilege talking, and / or my middle-class upbringing, and / or my fetish for principled conservatism, and / or maybe even just my bourgeois nostalgia for civility, but how is this making our city better? Isn’t it in all our interests to push back against this? We’re all in this together.
Happy Canada Day, y’all.
So I’m driving along the lakeshore this morning and my daughter, who’s loved going to the waterpark and the waterslides and such, notices the signs and landmarks leading to Ontario Place. Which is going to be, if not closed, then transformed into an innovative provincial landmark. In any event, the Ontario Place grounds, Cinesphere, waterpark, rides, attractions and restaurants are out of business this summer for “revitalization.”
Which is a drag, but, well, you know — shit happens.
Not going to talk at length about noise or extravagance or inconvenience, because this isn’t about pissy downtown elitists wanting their peace and quiet or anything, and, well, tourist dollars.
No, for the moment I just want to compare and contrast. If I understand this right, then spending public resources on the public good is a bad thing, so in the name of fighting the deficit and tightening our belts and living within our means, as the austerity prophets like to browbeat us, we’re closing public amenities like Ontario Place. Private events with corporate sponsors up the wazoo, on the other hand, are a good thing — despite whatever noise and inconvenience they may imply, and despite their obvious encroachment upon public space.
(Hey, it brings in money. What are you, some kind of effete downtown socialist?)
“Wall Street’s audacity to corrupt knows no bounds and the cooptation of government by the 1 per cent knows no limits. How else to explain $150 million of taxpayer money going to equip a government facility in lower Manhattan where Wall Street firms, serially charged with corruption, get to sit alongside the New York Police Department and spy on law abiding citizens.”
Anyone still not sure about the extent and intensity of the current class war? Anyone still have any doubts about the nature of power in the United States, and why and on whose behalf it is exercised?
Times like this, with their depressing talk of “taxpayers” and “efficiencies” and service cuts, call for a recommitment to the notions of citizenship and the public sphere.
Earlier this month, a public park was the setting for a public art show, animated by live music, food, and thousands of people strolling, getting some sun, having conversations, and taking it all in.
These are the things that make a city livable. This is what makes a community. This is where the public sphere comes from. Citizenship and leadership should be measured by commitment to this, not by empty slogans about gravy trains or finding efficiencies.
Special thanks to Joel Schwartz and Bret Higgins for letting me use their music.
(Yeah, I know, I should have gotten this done sooner, but, well … learning curve … )
Bad design kills people.
That’s right. It’s not a matter of aesthetics, or of politics, or of opinion. It’s a plain fact: When you design streets solely for cars, people die as a result. The underlying conditions that are responsible for those deaths are rarely or never challenged. The victims often get blamed for their own injuries or deaths.
Not that there’s a lesson in this for Toronto or anything. (h/t @HiMYSYeD)