Armchair Mayor column, Saturday, Oct. 10, 2009
Some days I wonder if I will survive long enough to enjoy my pension.
Thursday morning, this week, Seymour Street:
On my way to work in the outside lane. Suddenly, a City transit bus pulls out directly in front of me. As I veer left I hit the horn. What does he do? He blares his horn back at me. I give him one back.
COMMENT: Bus driver, I know you think you own the streets and that defensive, courteous driving is for other people, but here’s a news flash. The horn is for warning people about danger, not for taking out your annoyance at other drivers. My first beep was to warn you that you were about to plow into me. The second one was to tell you what I think of you and your rudeness.
Evening, on my way home, tooling along Westsyde Road:
I see a group of cyclists coming towards me. Their southbound lane has been ground up for repaving and they’re using the northbound lane because it’s still paved.
As oncoming traffic approaches, they swerve onto the gravel until it passes by, then dodge back into the wrong lane. All except for one cyclist with a death wish.
This one keeps coming at me, refusing to move into his own traffic lane. I give him a warning honk. He doesn’t budge. I hug the shoulder, and he misses me by an inch. In my rearview mirror, I see that he is giving me the finger.
COMMENT: Westsyde Road is very popular with cyclists, especially the racing clubs, but it is designed for motorized vehicles only. Now that reconstruction is almost finished, the cyclists are back in force. The City chose not to include a bike lane in the reconstruction (too expensive, I’m told), and some day a cyclist will be killed on that road. I only hope it won’t be me who does it. I drive a full-size pickup truck. I would barely feel the bump if that dumb so-and-so had hit me square on. Cyclists, you ride it at your peril, and the stupidest thing you can do is challenge drivers to get out of your way. To that rider, you know who you are. What you don’t know is that I also know who you are (I have my sources). Your middle name is Mr. Idiot. I’m told it’s no surprise you would do such a stupid thing.
Tuesday morning, Fortune Drive:
I see a young fellow in a canary yellow pickup come up behind me. He swerves into the righthand lane, momentarily tailgates a vehicle there, then swerves in front of me. As we approach the Tranquille Road overpass, he swings back to the righthand lane in front of another car just in time to avoid ramming the abutment. He guns it across the bridge, changing lanes another two or three times. When we arrive at the traffic light at Seymour and First, I am right behind him.
COMMENT: Without changing my speed, and without dodging in and out of traffic, I got downtown as fast as you did, you young ignoramus with the hot truck. You, who cut off several drivers in your haste and came close to clipping a bumper at least a couple of times. When you did get to Seymour Street, you got stuck in traffic and had to crawl through downtown along with everybody else, so what did it get you? Nothing, zippo, nadda, zilch.
Not long ago, on Columbia Street:
Waiting for the light to turn at Summit Drive. It changes to green and I pull into the intersection. In my peripheral vision I see a car hurtling towards me on a collision course. I slam on the brakes and hit the horn. At the last possible second, the driver veers to the left and makes it past me, narrowly missing another car as she does so, then continues through the red light and tears off down Summit.
COMMENT: You stupid, stupid, person. It’s entirely possible, just because you thought you could run that red light and save about two seconds, that you would have killed me. I am so sick of red-light runners. Next day, I assigned a reporter to go around to some local intersections and watch what happens. He reported in a front-page story that many people run red lights, yet authorities still don’t seem to think it’s a serious problem. If you had killed me that day, I hope my epitaph would have been, “Killed by the stupidest person on Earth.”
I am not an infallible driver. I make mistakes, but I don’t intentionally put others at risk. I’m definitely not invincible, either. I worry that, some day, here in the Idiot-Driver Capital of Canada, my luck will run out.
I don’t know why Kamloops has become this way. It is a beautiful city, a wonderful place to live. It is a community minded city, and it’s safe in so many ways. Why, when people get into a vehicle, or on a bicycle for that matter, do they suddenly lose their brains?
Safe driving, and keep your hand near the horn.