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Freedom and security in a battle on our roads
Is it just me, or is the subject of driving becoming more and more of a hot-button issue?
Maybe it’s just what I follow on Facebook and Twitter, but it seems now, more than ever, politicians, the media, advocacy groups and regular-folk alike are sounding off about speeds, policing, roads, safety, you name it.
When I share my opinions here — which I frequently do — about the Malahat, bad drivers and low speeds, those columns get far and away more reader response and on-line interaction than any other topic I write about.
I’ll usually also get four or five personal emails from people who don’t want to comment publicly, but want to let me know they support my ideas or have additional thoughts of their own.
So maybe it’s not just me.
The YouTube video Speed Kills: Your Pocketbook has racked up 1.14 million views in less than three weeks since its release.
The 15-minute viral success critiques policing, artificially low speed limits that are routinely ignored by all drivers, and media coverage of issues related to speed and policing.
Those of you who haven’t seen it can check it out at the website of the motorists’ advocacy group SENSEBC (sense.bc.ca/).
If it’s got wheels, a motor, and some way to steer the thing, we all seem to have an opinion about it — be it positive or negative.
The Town of Sidney — in perhaps one of the most laughable ideas in a while — proposed at the recent Union of B.C. Municipalities conference that all mobility scooters and power wheelchairs be subject to testing and licensing of their respective drivers.
That proposal, not surprisingly, failed to pass.
Also getting scuttled at the UBCM was Victoria Councillors Shellie Gudgeon and Ben Isitt’s pitch to lower the speed limit on residential roads from 50kmh to 40kmh.
Apparently, not even the province’s local politicians are willing to go that slow.
One traffic proposal did pass at the conference: Penticton’s idea to bring back photo radar — but only in school zones.
Surprising? Probably not so much because, hey, think of the children.
And despite the UBCM’s backing of the concept, the province is unlikely to enact it as Premier Christy Clark has said there’ll be no return to photo radar as a policing method.
So where does that leave us?
No one likes to have their driving criticized or overly regulated, but it seems we’re all too willing to dish out the criticism and some are wanting to regulate piloting a vehicle to a point approaching ridiculous.
The pace of everyday life has accelerated exponentially during the past couple decades. We all want to feel relaxed, safe and unencumbered when on the road, but that can mean vastly different things from one driver to the next.
There does seem to be a much more open dialogue now than there has been before — and that’s a great thing.
But it also seems we’re getting further and further away from reaching a common consensus.
Jay Siska writes monthly in the News Leader Pictorial. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.