Slamming Into Car Culture. (A proverbial tree).
This is a series of Facebook posts made over the course of the past few days on car culture.
The first made was censored (not available to post here) only after I shared it again to contextualize the offending word...
After a lengthy conversation about the inappropriateness of (a) post, (since censored by Facebook)I feel compelled to clarify a few things. The truth is, people will always be uncomfortable with harsh truths. It forces them to face themselves. I have been speaking on these things for 30 years. Not because I want to. I am compelled.
1.Yes, in frustration, I drew an analogy that would force people to examine and, as necessary, check their behaviour. I am at my wits end. And, so are many other pedestrians who are grateful that I am speaking out. Most people who really do know me would know I would only use such an analogy to make a point that continuously is lost. And, that I am doing it, not for my personal rights, but for the rights of all of those who are too intimidated to speak up. I cannot stomach uttering the word used. I tried to be as non offensive about it as possible. It is the pervasiveness of PRIVILEGE that has usurped basic RIGHTS that I am comparing.
2. This post was made directly after, once again, almost being mowed down by an SUV running a red light at an intersection that has a 23 second light for cross traffic. Had I not double checked as I moved into my 5 seconds of pedestrian signal, as I HAD EVERY RIGHT TO DO, having to dead stop my walker and jamming my shoulder again, I would be dead. It was going at least 80k/hr, gunning for the 401.
3. The analogy drawn, although extreme is a valid one. It is a reference to the generally derogatory attitude toward and/or complete disregard for what has become a minority group in a very short period of time. One that infringes on the NATURAL RIGHTS of that group, compromises their ability to function in society and threatens bodily harm and death regularly. The ubiquitousness of general disregard for the presence, let alone safety or rights of pedestrians is as extreme (if not more so in that people are completely oblivious to just how badly they behave). Drivers are a privileged class that generally view pedestrians as obstacles, not fellow travellers (literally dehumanizing them) and disregard their rights because of that privilege. It is absolutely disgusting to watch the way, especially the most vulnerable, pedestrians are forced to humble themselves to car traffic. If we don't concede, we are dead. It IS like the way black people used to bow their heads and go to the back of the bus. Watch sometime.
3. It is commonplace for traffic LAWS to be BROKEN and for police to rationalize it with statements like these quotes from officers I have made complaints to, the first from almost 20 years ago: "People don't expect a light to be there" and "I'm sure he didn't mean to do it".
The vast majority of drivers will roll right by a stop sign, into a pedestrian crossing, disregarding the sidewalk but watching for car traffic... More signs and traffic signals are only serve to irritate the people who ignore them into more aggressive behaviours. That really is all they do. DRIVERS HAVE TO CHECK THEIR PRIVILEGE.
Even without concerns for pedestrian safety, breaking basic traffic laws is the norm, not the exception. I could argue, based on my observations over the past 30 years as a dedicated pedestrian, transit goer and occasional car passenger, that ALL drivers in this city see many basic traffic laws as optional and likely break vastly more than they obey every time they get behind the wheel. There is a pervasive inclination to "get away with it". Drivers will, literally, outright refuse to make a full stop at a stop sign: slowing their roll and driving around me rather than waiting until I am on the sidewalk. This is a NORM.
4. Seriously, we all know, seem to accept, and some even straight out admit that they themselves along with many others -even some of the nicest- turn into "assholes" behind the wheel. Car culture has created a horrible attitude toward pedestrians. I am not saying every driver is an asshole. I am trying to wake up drivers generally to their participation in this bigotry. Dismissing these facts is participation. I am testifying and people are not accepting the reality of my experience. It is enabling the behaviour. ALL DRIVERS need to consider these attitudes, adjust themselves if necessary AND, perhaps, try to at least discourage these behaviours when witnessed so that it doesn't develop (as we have seen, over and over again throughout history) any further. I am saying we have a culture of privilege that IS bigoted and, at best, seriously compromises the rights and freedoms of a vulnerable population. Pedestrians are people who have rights.
5. For the record, I am not anti-car. They are wonderful tools that have allowed us to have a more privileged way of life. I am anti-car culture. This notion that driving is somehow a right. It is not. It is a privilege and it is a RESPONSIBILITY. And, this is truly just one manifestation of the confusion we have between rights and privileges in our horribly addicted Consumer Culture.
It is not accidental.
The Century of The Self is a good place to start to see how we have been manipulated into this state of general disregard for one another en masse. Only we can change our behaviours to create a better world. It won’t make you feel better about anything. It will, hopefully, help you understand what you need to examine and change. And, who knows, maybe we can find a way to back from chasing lifestyles of individual “comfort” and toward building lives worth living for everyone.
I find it very interesting that Facebook only blocked this post after I shared it again with the explaination (i hope you can and will take the time to read) for my extreme, yet valid analogy trying to bring attention to a pervasive, escalating societal bigotry.
When a word is censored for merely being, without any regard to the context in which it is used; when TRUTHS are dismissed because they are uncomfortable, we really do have some serious problems.
A few more notes about my comments on Car Culture:
1. I am specifically speaking about the habits and trends I have witnessed in the GTA.
2. I do live in a high traffic area just off of the 401. That is no excuse for the constant and blatant disregard of traffic laws. It is the rationalization of addictive behaviour that endangers everyone. It is a RESIDENTIAL NEIGHBOURHOOD! I have lived here my whole life, watching it get so bad that even with a 4 way stop, neon pedestrian signs on the main and radar displaying speed on the side street, people still dont make full stops at a historically dangerous intersection unless car traffic makes it necessary.
3. I regularly encounter all of these things as I travel around the city. I will say:
a) the west end of Toronto is probably the most pedestrian friendly.
b) particularly in the downtown core, many people travelling on foot are not actually dedicated pedestrians. They are goal oriented drivers travelling on foot from their vehicles to their destinations. The perspective is different. Shitty pedestrian attitudes can also be attributed to putting up with everything I am complaining about. And, it still is no excuse for the blatant disregard Toronto drivers generally feel entitled to have for basic traffic laws.
C) Scarborough is probably the worst for pedestrian travel. Drivers really behave like pedestrians are nuisances that have no right to be in their way...
It almost happened. I amost got through a walk to and from the mall without almost getting run down by someone speeding through my signal to make a right. Thanks for the back spasms mr little black sports car.
Pardon me! I do apologize for any offense caused.
You all go back to be feeling ENTITLED to make rolling stops, race yellows, block pedestrian crossings, "push" speed limits, etc.. How dare I compare the absolute lack of responsibility drivers want to have for the saftey of pedestrians; or, how they rush us across intersections, rolling their cars at us before we mount the curb, THREATENING OUR LIVES; or, how many bitch about us, even "destressesing" by joking about mowing us down to any other, pervasive societal bigotry.
How dare I speak out about the fact that, almost everytime I leave my home, I encounter a situation, were I not being super vigilant and merely assuming my LEGAL RIGHTS, would result (actually often does because of some hard stop i have to make with my waker) in bodily harm.
Go ahead and resent me for telling drivers to CHECK YOUR PRIVILEGE. I am not going to quitely stand down like a good...
The problem with privilege is that everybody seems to think it comes with no responsibility. The truth is PRIVILEGE IS RESPONSIBILITY.
That is all too often abdicated in the name of self interest.
I would wager, on any given day, the average Toronto driver mindlessly (some wilfully) breaks more traffic laws than they obey.
Check yourself and see. You might be surprized.
Car Culture is just one of countless manifestations of our REAL problem:
Our arrogant egos
FTR. My statements are generalized ones based on my experience and observations and are directed at noone specifically (that is why they are public). If you fit the bill, think about if you should adjust. If not, be joyful in knowing you are an exception that brings me much relief. If there weren't the few of you there, I would have checked out a LONG time ago.
A check list of pervasive, bad driving habits:
1. Rolling stops at Stop signs.
2. Not even hestating at Stop signs, driving through to pause at the corner.
4. Taking the break off and rolling into your turn before pedestrians are clear of the intersection.
3. Racing yellow lights.
4. Entering the intersection before you can clear it. Btw. The pedestrian crossing is part of the intersection.
5. Blocking the pedestrian crossing while the pedestrian signal is on.
6. Not using your turn signals.
7. Pushing/breaking the speed limit.
Just a few... feel free to contribute things I have missed.
Only 63 pedestrians and cyclists (so inconsequential that they group the figures) seriously injured or dead in the first half of 2020. Thank you Covid-19 for saving pedestrian lives!
"From Jan. 1 to July 1, the city counted 63 collisions that resulted in a pedestrian or cyclist being killed or seriously injured. That was the lowest total for the first half of any year since at least 2007, which is as far back as the records go."
We may not be being lynched. Just regularly run down... for a very long time. And, it is only getting worse.
Car culture is not only responsible for the oppression of the pedestrian. The gluttony has been a huge contributor to our environmental impact and has played a huge role in the development of so much of our social dysfunction.
I love how drivers tell me that my observations and experience from the sidewalk over the past 3 decades is invaild.
I had an article published 20 years ago about all of this. It really has only gotten worse.
I am not full of shit. I am asking a bunch of petulant children to be more responsible with their toys.
Please and thank you.
I have never minded that being a pedestrian is challenging. What I have and do mind is how needlessly difficult and dangerous it has become because of the sense of entitlement that has developed. And, the systemic preferential treatment of A PRIVILEGE -THAT IS SUPPOSED TO BE EARNED-OVER A BASIC RIGHT.
Just keep telling women that cat calls and stalking are complements. Completely without intent of offense.
Perhaps that is a better analogy.
Right now. I didnt see a single full stop. Lots of rolling ones. 11 you can see clearly. Tell me this isnt the majority.
And, if you don't see anything wrong with this, you are part of the problem.
Ftr. J-walking is 100% legal. As long as the pedestrain concedes to cars, waiting for an appropriate gap to not create a dangerous situation. Rolling through a stop sign never is.
And just to drive it home... it is twilight guys...
Btw. That fat white line on the road there. Cars are supposed to make a FULL STOP BEHIND IT.
(2 of) 3 randomly taken clips on a Saturday evening showing 100% of drivers breaking one law. Who is going to show me evidence I am wrong that drivers generally feel they have the right to do so? Or, that they don't have the same wilful ignorance toward any other traffic law?
THERE IS NO EXCUSE. ABSENT MINDED DRIVERS NEED TO WAKE UP AND STOP KILLING PEDESTRIANS. Toronto Police Service YOU NEED TO START ENFORCING TRAFFIC LAWS. THIS SENSE OF ENTITLEMENT THAT IS TAKING AWAY OUR RIGHT TO LIFE MUST END.
This week's pedestrian death. Another elderly woman. The week before it was a 70 year old.
Whoosh. I think that is it. Saturday was big...
All said with an unfortunately jaded love for humanity.