It seems some councillors would rather plug their ears and ignore the facts presented to them than recognize the real benefits of the transit-only lane.
By Ian Reynolds
Published January 13, 2015
I'm writing in regards to the heavily debated transit-only lane, or the "bus line" as we all call it when arguing. I've never felt compelled to contact a councillor before - I guess when you move to a place you care about you're willing to try things out.
One of the things I'd like to ask is in regards to Appendix F in the staff report, which lists the number of collisions at various intersections along the bus lane corridor by year:
One of the first things that popped out was that despite claims from some councillors that collisions are sharply on the rise, and while last year's number was technically above average, it was no outlier, statistically.
Aside from a brief drop in 2013, last year's number rivals that of the previous few years. Not only is that not an outlier, but it clearly displays the fact that while some are claiming collisions were on the rise, they've at the very worst stayed the same.
Additionally, it appears that nearly a quarter of these collisions were at the King and Mary area, which is, from anecdotal chatter on social media, always a little cluttered. Again, this number again equals, or nearly equals, that of the previous few years, rather than marking a sharp increase.
This leads me to believe that this intersection has had a number of previous collisions because of pre-existing design issues, rather than the bus lane.
I'm far from a traffic engineer, but to me this seems to be something that could be tinkered with using minor adjustments, such as slightly altering the timing of the lights, or maybe allowing bidirectional traffic onto Wellington Street.
Based on these statistics, it seems that the solution to reducing collisions would be found in minor tweaks, rather than giving up too soon on a lane that carries as many bus passengers as the other lanes carry drivers. The argument that this lane has led to an increase in collisions is simply incorrect.
Some councillors are claiming an increase in collisions, lack of transit benefits and unnecessary traffic congestion, despite the fact that the report argues against all of these things, and despite the fact that they openly and willingly refuse to consider the facts when they'd eventually come out in the report.
It seems some councillors would rather plug their ears and ignore the facts presented to them, while collecting paychecks from citizens that these lanes would benefit greatly.
I know that these supposed complaints are being brought forward on behalf of most drivers, but my own experiences don't match up whatsoever. I drive regularly because I work out of town, and I take King Street to Highway 403 100 percent of the time.
Not only have I noticed nothing more than a negligible difference in commute time to the highway, but I've also rarely had to so much as stop at a red light on my drive. My driving habits have remained the same and so too have my shopping habits.
As a driver, I can without a doubt say I'm in favour of the bus lane, despite the fact that it's being portrayed as a hassle to me. I don't know why my car should be more important than someone's bike, or someone's bus pass, but that's the way our city seems to rank them.
Despite being, on a micro level, the benefactor in this situation, I can't really seem to think it's a good idea for our future to think this way.
On CBC this morning there was an article with a video about a race between a driver and a transit rider on King Street at 5pm on a Friday. The car arrived at the end of the lane a litle less than two minutes after the bus.
The fact that it only takes a car two minutes more than a bus, at rush hour on a Friday, to travel halfway across the city, is not an issue. That's a fantastic commute. We should all be so lucky as to have that kind of rush hour experience in every area.
Additionally, I'd like to point out that a number of people have shown that one Councillor's complaint about driving to City Hall from Stoney Creek is unfounded, because even according to several popular map websites, there are simpler, faster routes as compared to King Street.
This article is adapted from a letter to Council.
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