10 July 2009

Meet Grumpy Old Man

I realize that through various 'rant' posts I have revealed my not-so-hidden Grumpy Old Man persona. It's time to make this official by including it as a searchable topic and sharing those little things that set me off.

Well, internally, as I am still a WASP in control of his outward expressions.

Tonight's episode: the rules of the road.

We live in a society with certain rules that exist to protect us from each other. Some of the most delicate balances concern roads, streets, bicycle lanes and sidewalks, especially in a city like Montréal, where the rules seem to be something we don't necessarily follow, but that we love to point to when someone else's free spirit has inconvenienced our own.

Tonight, I took a bus home after seeing a movie at the other side of downtown. While waiting for the bus, I watched with some degree of amusement as four bicycle cops bore down on what they seemed to think was a drug deal in the park. It may well have been, but the small group scattered and that's all the cops succeeded in doing. Shortly after that, it seemed to be the end of their shift, and they set out eastward like a pack of dirtbikers, whizzing past me at the bus stop with mere centimetres to spare. Oh no, I was not perched on the curb; they were speeding from the park across the sidewalk right past me onto the street. Now that's respecting the rules of the road, no? And by the people who are charged with ensuring that the rules are followed.

It gets better.

The configuration below might be familiar to many: the crosswalk. (In Montréal we tend to think of these as 'targeting zones' and don't really believe the cars will stop for pedestrians at them. We are usually not disappointed in our assessments.)

At the corner of my street where I get off the bus, debarking passengers must cross a bicycle path to reach the sidewalk. Luckily, there are crosswalk stripes painted across the bicycle lane at both bus door locations. Do you think my mad cycling police officers stopped to allow me to cross? Not a chance! They whizzed by as I pointed at the crosswalk with my own cross look directed at them.

Good thing they were wearing their sunglasses with the anti-glare feature or they might have been withered by my look.

Thanks for showing us all how to respect the rules of the road, boys!


sirbarrett said...

Driving in Montreal. Can you explain to me why you can't turn right on a red light like the rest of Canada?

Ken Monteith said...

Considering how good our drivers are at stopping at crosswalks (not at all), I don't know if any pedestrians would ever make it across the street if right turns on red were allowed. So we maintain the ban, just like New York.

Close observation will show you that we usually cross the street against the light anyway, and often not at the corner.