Comment 65932

By moylek (registered) - website | Posted July 10, 2011 at 09:21:09 in reply to Comment 65919

Regarding the development of cycling infrastructure, A. Smith asks ...

why not hire a polling form to ask what the people of Hamilton really want and then let the results direct policy. Would you be in favour of that?

I suspect that A. Smith knows the answer to his own question already. But it's an interesting question and worth discussing.

The simplest answers is that we don't poll the populace for every policy decision because that is not how democracy - as we know it - works.

And why don't we do that? Most obviously because hardly anything would get done. People lean strongly toward the status quo and narrow interests, especially when their own money is involved - and that's not always bad. But imagine which of the following improvements to our city and our lives would have passed a referendum or broad poll ...

  • recycling and green-waste composting
  • property tax increases of any kind
  • construction of the bay-front park
  • closure of the roads for the cycling World Cup
  • paving of roads in the late 19th C (following agitation from the Good Roads Movement - led by cyclists, not motorists)

Mind, referenda might well have prevented us from having one-way expressways downtown; from losing the old city hall, the old market and the sunken gardens; from having York Street razed into the bleak boulevard it is today.

The conservative instincts of the unreflecting mob (and that's what a polled population constitutes) are often right. But it's the job of our elected officials and paid staff to sometimes convince us that we need to do things differently so that our city can be a better place to live.

Comment edited by moylek on 2011-07-10 09:53:43

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