You have a problem. A big one.
Dear Mr. (New) Mayor,
You have a problem. A big one.
I bet you're thinking "Oh great, another rant about the sorry state of housing in this city." Well, you're wrong.
On Monday evening, a little boy, barely 4 years old, and his Mom were hit hard by a reckless driver while crossing a residential street adjacent to East 1st Ave. Both were tossed like crash test dummies onto the pavement. The little boy landed on his head and lay crying with his skull bleeding. The mom fared a little better, but barely. Have you ever landed on your head? How did it feel? Have you ever watched an ambulance close its' doors and rush away wondering if you will ever see your little boy again?
Do you get the picture?
Your immediate problem is that you have a police department (and emergency response teams) that think it's normal and OK for drivers to endanger pedestrians. You are mayor of a city where human life is in danger every single minute and you don't seem to give a rat's ass. An if you do, you certainly don't seem to be doing anything about it. You are Mayor of a city where little boys and girls (and their Moms) are endangered and hit every day.
Let me tell you how I know.
As a person who walks everywhere, I see things closely. At busy intersections, during every traffic signal cycle, EVERY SINGLE ONE, I observe two (it's almost always two) drivers run the red light. The light's not yellow. It's not even barely red. It's SOLID red. There is no possible way that the drivers running these lights do not see that they are red. What these drivers *do* know is that they've never been caught. They've probably been lucky enough to not hurt or kill other people... YET. (Take a look. Here's two of them.)
As a person who walks everywhere, there are also things I don't see. I don't see red light runners (or other reckless drivers) being pulled over and ticketed for their life-endangering lifestyle. I don't see your fancy police cruisers hunting them down and enforcing the law. Ever.
I also don't see the camera systems that are designed to photograph red light runners ever turned on. Are these decorations, or do you intend to actually use them some day?
I'm sensing you're still not convinced. Or, maybe I'm exaggerating?
Let's assume a traffic signal interval of three minutes, and a busy period of six hours a day (morning, lunch and dinner rush times), that's 120 cycles where drivers endanger human life. That's 240 chances at each busy intersection for a life-threatening injury, or death EVERY SINGLE DAY. Are you feeling lucky? I'm not. And neither is one 4-year old with a smashed up head.
With 240 nearly guaranteed chances a day for injury and death at every intersection, what do you think the odds are that someone is going to be killed at one of them today? I bet you have at least 100 intersections like this in your city. Do the math. 2400 is a big number.
A telltale sign of chronic negligence is when people don't even recognize it as such. People in Vancouver I talk to that have lived here for a while say they see red light runners all the time. They don't seem to connect the dots though. Maybe over the years one becomes blind to the rot? I'm sure you see it though, right?
I bet you don't.
Does Public Safety appear on the agenda for your first real council meeting? Does Public Safety appear anywhere in the list created by the Standing Committee of Council Policy on Strategic Priorities?
None of this is OK and negligence stops now. All your city real estate improvement plans will go to hell if your city isn't safe for the people who live in it.
Tell your Chief of Police to adopt a zero-tolerance for dangerous driving and to enforce traffic laws beginning right now, or to find another job.
I'll close with some good news. You're new. And, as "the new guy" you might legitimately say that you have an excuse. But, with every signal change at every intersection in Vancouver your excuse erodes. Don't be like that last guy. Where is he now? Oh yeah.
The light just turned red. Did you see it?
Update: Jan 18, 2019: Do you think this problem is solved, or on its way to being solved? Here's another one:
Will VPD begin to enforce traffic laws this year?
(Photo credit: skhakirov. Not the actual accident photo.)