Sunday, 6 October 2013
THE BIKE LANE ENGINEER
The Bike Lane Department of City Hall sent a letter to business owners on 4th Avenue near MacDonald Street. It had called a meeting for October 4th to consider a current proposal. Explaining that this was a consequence of his splendid“Seaside Greenway and York Avenue Bikeway, Active Transportation Project.” Engineer Dobrovolny wanted feedback on how the loss of all parking could be minimized.
He had a Power Point Presentation that would prove that the merchants had to lose their parking. There could be no other way. To ensure that they had no illusions as to the hopelessness of their cause, he said the decision had already been made and approved.
Pharaoh had hardened his heart.
I asked why ( expletives deleted) he needed to bring a squad of engineers to explain an irrevocable decision to remove parking spaces. After all, how many engineers does it take to screw the public? Could it possibly have had anything to do with the fact that they would be paid time and one half for overtime?
The Bike Rider in Chief started with an aerial photo of the street. He stated that the parking in front of two of the stores would lose only four spaces. The owner said he had just measured it and the engineers could not have counted correctly. There were seven. The store owner grabbed their aerial photo and counted them. There were six cars with additional room for a seventh. (Happily, this engineer does not design bridges.)
Their faith shaken by the parking space count, the merchants asked for the City’s evidence to support the need to cause them this catastrophe. Dobrovolny explained that they had done traffic counts on the intersection.
No one believed him. Never had anyone in 20 years seen a count taken at this intersection.
In reply, the staffers explained that you don't always see the counts because they may be done at various times of the day and in the alternative, maybe once every two or so years. Yes, and sometimes there are stealth counts. They hire little people who sit in chairs, count cars and then run away.
Then they got down to business. They explained that they could vastly improve things by installing parking metres further down the street. The existing unpaid parking was inefficient according to Dobrovolny It would be a lot better if 15% of the spaces could be kept vacant.
So this was why there was a meeting. If the merchants would only ask for it, then the engineers could install meters, collect the money and claim that consultation and democracy had been gloriously triumphant.
But if they know that paid parking is the solution, why are they asking the merchants? Having already decided to remove all of the spaces it is also their job to mitigate damages.
One person suggested that they could inexpensively put in an advance signal at the intersection instead of turning bays. The engineer said that the ephemeral traffic counts that they forgot to bring, proved that there was too much traffic for advanced signals.
The shopkeepers said that they would be forced to close. Dobrovolny could have explained that they should be honoured. Their sacrifice was for the greater enjoyment of our creme de la creme, West Point Grey, Golden Mile waterfront residents. That is a noble cause. The Engineers deserve a few cases of Pouilly-Fuisse and Lulu Lemon jogging pants.