Be a QIMBY

Be a QIMBY

Yes. Worry about Quality in my Backyard not bucking yourself against change just because you are personally used to the way things are.

Like driving alone to work every day. I watch the morning traffic a fair bit (don’t judge; we all need hobbies) and I swear not one car in 12 has more than one person in it. Everybody is driving alone to work. Or inching slowly towards same. While bitching about congestion.

Why? Because they’re used to taking their car wherever they go. And not planning their commute with others. I mean, how long have people tried to encourage carpooling? It’s been decades. How many people do you personally know who carpool? Exactly.

Why not? Because people are used to what they’re used to, and they can only see the inconvenience of changing anything. If you carpool you’ve got to plan. You can’t really be late, either getting to work or staying later. You’re also having to drive around a bit more to go pick up Maureen and Clark. And two days out of three you’re at the mercy of your pool drivers and you’re not a fan of their driving.

But what if, instead of focusing only on the need to make the switch away from single-occupant vehicles be about the environment and the cost of gas and parking, we also made it about the quality of the time you get to spend not biting your steering wheel in frustration over how slow everyone is this morning?

See, my idea to encourage carpooling would be to flip the HOV lane. Right now it’s one lane for high occupancy vehicles (defined as two people or more), and three or four lanes for everyone else. I’d say during rush hour it should be three of four lanes reserved for vehicles carrying more than one person, and one lane for the singletons. I’d bet you people would change their habits real quick, especially as you explained the point about saving yourself 20 minutes (each way, every day) spent staring at the bumper in front of you if you could just double up.

Too often urban changes make people angry because it’s not explained properly. Also because - to make things better and stop relying on cars so much, which we all know is stupid and unhealthy - we know we need to make changes but at the same we hate having to change anything. Every time I say we should rip out the Queensway people get upset, and I suspect that’s in good part because they, personally, use the Queensway to get to work every single morning. So when I say tear down this ugly highway their mind immediately goes to the alternate routes they’d have to take if the Queensway wasn’t there tomorrow morning and it rebels. Because coming downtown from Kanata on Carling the whole way if that was the only way in would take roughly 16 hours. And who wants that.

Instead of asking me how I see them getting to work, they tell me to stop dreaming and go away. It’s faster and easier. No need to change, all is well.

Except all is not well, and we all know it. Because spending 45 minutes stuck in traffic twice a day five days a week fifty weeks a year is not really most people’s definition of “well”. More like hell. One small letter, a world of difference.

I like this idea of focusing on the quality of life we would gain if we made smart changes about how we live our lives in our cities and towns. Because this may, finally, be the key to everything.

Putting the square back in the square

Putting the square back in the square

Barrhaven is lovely, unless you work downtown

Barrhaven is lovely, unless you work downtown

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