What is wrong with York Region?

As you may have noticed in the federal election, people want change. A massive Liberal sweep of most of GTA except for small pockets of York Region. The Liberals promised transit infrastructure spending to get the GTA where it needs to be. One would hope that York Region is part of that. I do not mean completion of Hwy 7 BRT lanes, which is a given with strange ceremonies for each stage of funding that was always coming. I mean fix our means of escape. Vaughan in particular is split both North and South, and East and West by rails. Very few streets pass those rails, and many simply stop at them. Of course I mean the main rail lines crossing from Brampton past Markham just north of Steeles where you may have noticed you have very few south escape options to bypass this line. The other major blockade is the CN rail yard that splits Langstaff at one of its many stoppages. That leaves only Rutherford and Hwy 7 to cross the yard lines at north and south ends forcing traffic to a construction zone of the BRT and a level GO crossing at Rutherford and Keele area. We all know how backed up traffic can be there, eastbound traffic can be at a standstill past Jane Street to the west, and well past Dufferin to the east. Combine untrained motorists that block every intersection in between which prevents northbound and southbound traffic from crossing or joining Rutherford, this is especially evident at Keele. Yes there has been a multi-year study and environmental assessment going for fixing that level rail crossing, likely to become an underpass, but that still means the fix is years away unless the governments fast-track it. We all know how Toronto complains when both the Gardiner and Lake Shore are closed or reduced for construction at the same time, so York Region will do well to avoid having our only continuous East-West corridors not be both under construction at the same time, but I do feel it is unavoidable. Since York Region has well over 1 million residents and climbing, about par with Toronto when subways were built in the 1960’s, I think you seriously need to consider the Bovaird/Castlemore/Rutherford/16th corridor as a prime location for a rapid transit line that can connect Peel, York, and Durham. With an expected new airport in Pickering area, and Hwy 407 expansion in that area, connecting York Region is a plan that needs to happen.

As for our south crossings they are so jammed and slow that traffic exiting 407 blends into live lanes causing a high probablity of collisions as most of the region is staring at phones in their lap instead of having eyes on the road. I’ve never agreed with highway engineers of the merits of a split lane exit that allows users a choice between continuing on highway or exiting via an off-ramp. This leads to what we see every morning at Keele and other crossings where motorists need to be alert to blending stopped traffic. When I ran for Regional Council in 2010, one of my opponents who also did not win, and finished out of running like myself, kept promoting what he called Smart Transit, which may have meant Presto cards, which if implemented better could be very useful, but I think he meant computer monitored and coordinated traffic lights that meet demand loads and prevent congestion. York would have almost as much expense to do this as Toronto, given that vastness of the region. That doesn’t mean forget the idea, it means work at it, in stages as you can manage to fund it.

The other major problem we have are motorists and pedestrians that do not obey any rules of the road. Observing as a driver, and as a passenger in a work vehicle, I see the following, every minute of the day.
Pedestrians crossing slowly as countdown timer is active. (By law, the countdown means stay put if you haven’t already begun to cross)

Motorists that turn in multiple lanes that do not possess a trailer or multiple axles. Left turns get left lanes, and right lanes get right lanes, a two year old could master that logic.

Failure to signal any turn or lane change, and often multiple times to be that one extra car in front. At no point in time ever in traffic will a vehicle never be in front of you on the road, relax, calm down, and stop endangering human lives to be that extra spot ahead.

Parking in fire lanes at any point in time is never legal, never safe, and never required to get groceries or coffee. You do not own an ambulance or fire truck, do not pretend you are more important than the entire country by claiming that lane as a parking space. Pedestrians are forced to walk around your vehicles which are preventing their ability to cross safely to their legally parked vehicles.

Parking in handicap designated spots when you do not own a permit, or taking multiple spots in a parking lot when your vehicle can fit in one alone is not only illegal, it is arrogant, ignorant, and most probably blind to reality.

Pedestrians that cross mid-block or cut corners avoiding a straight line at crosswalk is more dangerous than illegal. Motorists as you well know are rarely looking past their phone in their lap, and if they are turning, will never see a pedestrian outside of the crosswalk. Just today Oct.28 2015 in under an hour nine people were struck by vehicles in the GTA between 7:30am and 8:30am. Yes rain was a factor, so visibility was further reduced, but both parties need to be aware of each other by eye contact, and that cannot be done while crossing in a manner that clearly adds to your lack of visibility.

HEADLIGHTS! People that use headlights 24/7 are skilled drivers. There will always be a condition where lights will improve your visibility to others, if not for yourself. The common excuse of “I can see OK.” is ignorant. In direct sunlight an unlit vehicle is nothing more than a shadow. If lights were on, it would at least be visible. In rain, snow, fog and overcast conditions where visibility is low, and overall greyness of your surroundings is vast, lights should always be on. You are not visible in spray. Lights need to be on, especially today. Weather increases darkness where lights work better.

Winter safety. Every snowfall brings what I call the Three Forces Of Evil. Mobile Snowbanks, Defroster Dunces, and The Wipers Only Brigade. There are more factions of this utterly unsafe attitude to weather related impairment. Yes, I said impairment. Snow, Ice and Frost have never been transparent or see-through. A wiper arc or a defrost line or a handswipe is not an effective method to improve visibility. Snow-brushes and Ice-scrapers should be standard procedure every time you intend to operate your vehicle. Two to five minutes at most is all it takes to brush down your entire vehicle of snow, and scrape ice and frost off all windows and lights. Do not leave a snowhawk on the roof, do not leave a blanket on the roof. Your heater will melt the underside of that snow and send it directly over your windshield. I have witnessed this on multiple occasions, yes it does happen and people can potentially die if the timing is such that it happens when someone pulls in front of you as you lost your vision. Not brushing your lights is pure insanity. What possible good can come from a light unable to penetrate a mass of weather debris?
Clean out your wheel wells. Salt crusty sand and snow chunks accumulate and prevent steering if left unattended.
As temperatures plummet below 7 Celcius, invest in winter tires, there is a world of difference to all-seasons. Traction alone is worth the expense. You stop better, you have better grip in slippery conditions, which is what winter creates, and all-seasons are those poor folks on You-tube that spin around endlessly or barely move while smoke pours from their tires. Be alert, as most pedestrians are bundled up so much they can barely see anything. Eye contact is key at all times when pedestrians and motorists share an intersection or crossing area.

Put your phones away!!!!!!!! I have yet to see a passing motorist that does not have a phone in their lap they are staring at at every traffic stop and continues to stare at while moving. There is this device called BLUETOOTH, it allows you to talk and have hands on the wheel, and eyes on the road. Your facebook status, text, tweet, email or whatever you think is so bloody important to write down will never be more important than your life or your family’s need to have you in it. A vehicle is not a desk, and a stop sign/ stop light is not a safe alternative. Texting or Tweeting is not Driving. You are impaired!!

Can the new Liberal Trudeau administration fix all of these things? Unlikely. Did you read them? Probably not. I find most of my sound advice on human safety is falling on deaf ears. Don’t become a statistic. DRIVE safe.

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