When it comes to getting around in the city of Toronto, I liken to think of myself as fairly bias-free. I use multiple modes of transportation and they’re all awful for one reason or another. Seriously though, I am a driver, but I am also a cyclist and also a TTC user. So, that should give you all a bit of my perspective for the following post.
FOUND ON ROAD DEADWRONG
It’s no real secret that the mayor of Toronto is a walking or driving PR disaster. From his failed campaign platform of stopping the gravy train, to giving a citizen the finger while talking on his cellphone while driving, to the so-called assault on him by Mary Walsh of CBC’s “This Hour Has 22 Minutes”, to HIS assault on a Toronto Star reporter, to the failed weight-loss challenge to… well, you get the idea.
The latest example of the PR Disaster that is Rob Ford was his denial of passing a stopped streetcar. The most recent public buffoonery involves the mayor driving on Dundas St. West and driving past a streetcar that had its front doors open.
Every streetcar has a sign on it at the back not to pass when doors are open. Problem with this is, it IS vague. So, what should a mindful person do? Err on the side of caution. Stop behind the streetcar. Fairly simple thing to do.
I will admit that shortly after the rule came into effect, I made the mistake of driving up to the next set of doors when a streetcar was stopped. Now, my situation was over 4 years ago and the driver DID get out of the vehicle and yell at me. However, the situation was, the light had just turned green and a passenger crossed Spadina (against the lights) to jump on the Streetcar. Both the streetcar and I were northbound and the passenger crossed Spadina from the west side.
A verbal altercation supposedly occured between the TTC driver and the mayor. The mayor of course, denies any wrong doing. An intrepid individual would be mindful of the fact, if it was reported by the driver, it probably happened.
Now, given that the TTC Union hasn’t had it easy for the last 2-3 years, the Mayor should understand that he doesn’t want to anger these people. They’re the ones that really run this city. They’re also a large percentage of the voting public. I would imagine that he doesn’t figure very highly in their collective minds as a great leader, given his “subways! subways! subways” tirade a few months ago.
It’s really absurd at this point. It’s like the man can’t go a month without producing a minor media fiasco. It’s like, he’s not even trying to be a good person. He’s only in it (the mayor’s office) for the power… the impunity.
What gets me are the two quotes that have been in the three different news stories I’ve read.
“How they made it sound is like I drove around. How could I when the front doors were open? The guy came out of his seat I must have been behind the doors because he came and talked to me” Ford said.
“I talked to Andy Byford and asked him what are the rules of that one? The back doors are shut, are you allowed to move up to the next set of doors? He said as far as I know – yes – and everybody does it.”
“As far as I know” – I once got a bit of heat for using that phrase and with good reason. You either know or so you don’t, and that phrase implies neither. So, basically the Chief Exec of the TTC doesn’t know for sure? And everybody does it? I ride my bike in the summer along Queen Street and I have NEVER seen a driver do it. Why? because everyone knows, you stop behind the streetcar. The only exception is when you’re parallel to the streetcar at a stop and a passenger who was not waiting at the stop, enters the street to get on.
The Star (a newspaper that loves to stick it to the mayor) went even so far as to find out from the police what the rule is
Police Staff Sgt. David Stirling confirmed that the Highway Traffic Act requires drivers to stay back two metres only from a door that is open. He added that it is still “probably most prudent and safe” for drivers to stay behind the streetcar entirely if the front door is open and back door is closed.
Granted, that answer doesn’t help much either, but it’s better than “as far as i know“.
Union Chief Kinnear seems to know the answer… imagine that?
“Even if the front door’s open, you’re not to pass the rear doors. Because the rear doors are active. What I mean by that is any passenger, at any time, can step down onto the steps and exit the streetcar,” Kinnear said.
Now, because everyone is saying something different, it’s hard to really know what the actual situation was like. But either way, there is a clear problem with the rules as they stand for driving alongside of a TTC Streetcar. Prudence and Safety in mind, the rule should be made clearer for everyone. Clarity harms no one.
It’s a shame that we have a mayor that is so ignorant of the rules of the road, when he’s been championing a so-called war on other transportation modes.
No trace of irony that he loves driving… not with a name like FORD.