Friday, July 04, 2008

How do they do this in San Francisco, Kevin?

CBC, 2008 July 4: Minister reinforces position on bridge closure
Kevin Falcon said it's unacceptable that the Ironworkers Memorial Second Narrows Crossing was completely shut down for six hours on Canada Day while police tried to talk to an apparently distraught woman.

"I was just in San Francisco recently and I can tell you they have lots of problems with the Golden Gate Bridge but they don't shut down the entire bridge to deal with these incidents," Falcon told CBC News Thursday.

I just want to interject here and point out that they also have streetcars in San Francisco. Street cars that run on tracks, in the city. I'm not talking about the cable cars. These are streetcars, on tracks, in the city. Did KFalc see them?

Falcon was one of thousands of motorists caught in the gridlock on Canada Day.

"He [Falcon] sounded like a frustrated motorist and not a leader, in my point of view," said Darrell Burnham, executive director of Coast Mental Health Foundation.

Also, in the comments to the CBC story describing the incident, I found a comment written by Kevin Falcon himself, under the pseudonym Devoid:
I wonder how many people in those traffic tie ups lost out on something big in their lives because they took a 3-5 hour detour to get to their destination.

Maybe someone was rushing to a hospital because they got the call their dad was dying and they needed to come right away.

Maybe someone was rushing to the family home because their dog had died.

Maybe someone was trying to deliver medication to a sick person.

Maybe someone had an important job interview or business meeting.

Maybe someone had $300 worth of perishables in their car, which perished.

The possibilities are endless when it comes the possible ways that people can have REAL, negaitive impacts on their lives because police choose to shut down a major artery to cow-tow to one disturbed person.

Those shut downs affect tens of thousands of people. Why is the jumper more important than everyone else? Just because the jumper's situation is time-sensitive, doesn't mean that the guy in the VW Jetta waiting patiently isn't losing something dear himself.

I'm tired of the police throwing a blanket over the rest of us to make their jobs easier.

So I wonder what KFalc would think of what I witnessed on the Burrard bridge just now. For at least the last forty-five minutes the bridge has been intermittently blocked by police, who are positioned at each end of the bridge. All six lanes are closed to motor traffic, for several minutes at a time.

Traffic on the downtown side was backed up down Pacific Street/Beach Avenue for as far as I could see. There was a bit of angry honking going on. I don't know how far back up Burrard traffic was backed up. It must have been backed up quite far down Burrard and Cornwall on the south side of the bridge as well.

Why was the Burrard bridge closed this Friday night? Why were all these motorists inconvenienced so? Why were ambulances, people going to visit their dying dogs, and people with $300 of perishables in the trunk all delayed for so long?

To film a car commercial, of course. In order to create the fantasy of unobstructed speed you have to get the Vancouver Police to close the bridge for you. Then you can film your shiny cars zooming back and forth over the bridge. Back and forth. Back and forth. For forty-five minutes or so. Sure, they take a break every once in a while to let some of the traffic through, but the traffic is still backed up for blocks and blocks.

Something else I noticed: the cars being filmed for the commerical have European license plates. I guess we can have a pretend Euro Auto Fantasy on the Burrard Bridge but the possibility of a Euro Bike Fantasy (in the form of trial lane allocations for bicycles) is out of the question.

In summary, for those keeping score: Closing a bridge to help a suicidal woman BAD; closing a bridge to film a car commercial GOOD.


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