Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson has scored an economic bulls-eye as a result of a secret trip to London last week. According to “impeachable inside sources” at City Hall the Mayor has purchased for 40 million dollars, a fleet of used Austins, the legendary British automobile, with right hand drives. Although the Mayor has been “tight lipped” we have learned this much about the project:
Several months ago Mayor Robertson wondered during a Council meeting on affordable housing, why you could get such good deals on British Cars. The price of a used Austin was a tiny fraction of that of a 1985 Hyundai Pony or a GM Vega. He asked the purchasing department to check it out.
Six weeks ago staff reported that it was because the British build their cars with the steering wheel on the wrong side.
In what SFU professor Gordon Price described as a “ point click moment” (I forget the exact expression) no-one had ever noticed that the British Drive on the wrong side of the street.
The Mayor knows an opportunity when he sees one. The LED light-bulb flashed in his mind. He reasoned that if he could get a billion dollars worth of cars for 40 million, he could regain the support of the motoring public. He would set up free Austin lending stations all over the City.
What about the right hand drive? Councillor Meggs came up with an ingenious solution. Vancouver is going to revert to the system of driving on the left side of the street. This would appeal to the older, more conservative, voters like the writer. I remember Vancouver before we switched in 1922, and feel that we lost something important as a result.
The method of transition is elegant. Mayor Robertson said, “We are going to shift to driving on the left gradually. Big changes like this you don't do at once. First we will allow only the Austins to drive on the Left. Maybe just on odd days. After that we will allow trucks on Wednesdays. Then American cars. After a year or two almost everyone will be driving on the left. Few will even notice.
Meggs mused, "A further cost savings is that we will not have to repaint the white line down the centre of the street. That can remain just where it is. He's right if you think about it.
One final point. Some 76 countries, from Anguilla to Zimbabwe drive on the left. If Vancouver manages to corner the car market in these countries the costs will drop even further.
Never mind the spinning and lying that we will hear from mockers and detractors. This is brilliant.