Monday, September 15, 2014

THE DEVIL CREATES TRAFFIC JAMS


TRAFFIC ENGINEERS ARE SADISTS

Too many of us spend too much time in traffic dreaming of a hell where traffic engineers run like hamsters inside giant wheels while carbon monoxide blows in their faces.
Since the engineers, aided and urged on by politicians who want all their activists living in areas protected from through traffic, are impervious to the lesson inherent in the axiom that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, and believe the greatest invention in the world is a maze surrounded by construction, anything sensible that I might propose will be lost on them.
If the trafficrats aren't spending our money on a multitude of signs, so much so that you think it is possible for a city to get measles, they are sentenced to remedial courses in driving motorists mad.
The timing of traffic lights is always of great interest to me, particularly when I finally get a green but can see that the next light has just turned red.
Back when I was a kid reporter, I used to write regularly about how Toronto virtually had invented  the idea of feeding signals from traffic lights into a buried computer centre so that you could actually drive along without every second light blocking you.
In fact, traffic experts from all over the world used to come to study what the Toronto metropolitan area was doing.  I once went to Singapore because of radical changes there in handling traffic and all the experts there wanted to do was ask me what was the latest innovation in Toronto.
How the mighty have fallen!
I was reflecting on this the other day when I drove in from my cottage on the Trent south of Havelock to deliver Mary to a bus taking her and some relatives from the Plewes clan to lay waste to the shops of Quebec.
My destination was the Legion in western Peterboro (the way we used to spell it in the old Tely to save  type.)
I hate to be tardy but we arrived a few minutes late for the pickup by the excursion bus. Why? The usual idiots on Highway 7 who get nervous at 80. The usual lumbering dump trucks and tractor trailers that are too big for ordinary highways but are allowed there by stupid politicians and lazy law enforcement..
 And every light was red.
Since Lansdowne is a main drag, you would think that at 8 a.m., it would be possible for any rookie official with more firepower than a smart phone to program a system where many lights could be synchronised.
But oh no, traffic limped from red light to red light, which may cut down on speeding but certainly increases pollution and wear. Presumably, the drivers around me were going to jobs or making early calls or deliveries, but the city wasn't easing the trip one bit.
Ironically, after Mary got on the bus and the driver and I stopped bitching about how traffic had worsened, I drove back to the cottage and stopped only once in 60 km.
See, it is possible. And it is interesting that in Peterboro it is easier to leave town than to work there.
I was trying to calculate the odds of driving all that distance and only having one red out of 20 or so signalized intersections.  Perhaps one in a million.
 Why it's practically a miracle, one that no traffic engineer would believe and every traffic engineer will ensure never happens again.




Tuesday, September 9, 2014

TOO MANY MAYORAL DEBATES ARE USELESS


A WASTE OF TIME AND MEDIA

I moderated countless political debates in Toronto for nearly 30 years, from St. Lawrence Hall to church halls to school gyms to Nathan Phillips Square to endless cable shows. They blur together now because even when they were happening, not much real news was being created.
You see, real news most days is about 99% old. And with our political campaigns growing longer to the point of insanity, even candidates for dogcatcher have exhausted all their good ideas after three weeks.
The idea of mayoral campaigns lasting from January into the fall seems a concept hatched in Hades. Since most smart candidates never really stop getting their ideas out, and the GTA is drenched in media hunting for material, the combination means that many of us are bored with the major candidates before they sign their entry papers.
What complicates campaigns is the number of men and women who run for most positions. It is their right in a democracy. Except, as I have argued in plenty of meetings planning debates,  and in newspaper conferences about how we would distribute our resources, just because a 21-year-old student runs for mayor because he thinks it would be a great way to get publicity for a job, it doesn't mean we have to give him the same attention as a candidate considered important  by more than just his mother.
This brings anguish to the politically correct officials who control such public venues as St.Lawrence Hall or Nathan Phillips Square. They fear the heat of a few activists. I said I would take responsibility for pruning the competent from the silly and the futile because, after all, as a columnist and editor who daily made choices as to whom was covered and who was ignored, it is part of life for any journalist worthy of the name.
 It's fundamental to the news business that you not cop out and give equal space or time to everyone just to play it safe.  For those who say you should give both sides of every argument, I remind them there is often more than two sides. The sad result of the chicken shits who won't make obvious choices is, as the classic argument goes, you would have given equal time to Hitler.
One tense crowded night at St. Lawrence, with three major candidates behind me, I began the speeches only to be shouted at by a perennial mayoral candidate who had got his first publicity years before when he was arrested for sunbathing in High Park. (Yes, it was illegal at the time.)
I said to Zolton that hundreds had come to hear the main three. He would be wasting their time. But if the crowd wants to hear you, I told him, they can hold up their hands. No one did. I repeated the offer so there would be no confusion in the media. Still, no support for Zolton.
He marched angrily towards me, except I was bigger and just as determined. (And there were two paid-duty cops at the back.) So he subsided. I knew that would not be the end of it. When question period arrived, so did Zolton, first  to the closest microphone. He spoke for two minutes before I cut him off, pointing out that everyone in the hall knew he was going to pull that trick so he should now quit. And he did.
Things were more untidy when Rogers held two-hour debates each noon hour from Nathan Phillips Square during one provincial election. It was live, of course, for Channel 10. There was one crank who hung out at City Hall speaking at every committee meeting. He was tolerated because that was his right in a democracy but I saw no reason to be polite to the jerk. So he hated me.
There were 22 debates between the Toronto provincial candidates. About half way through the schedule, he started showing up to shout curses at me from the back of the square of chairs which never made it on air but had a disconcerting effect on me as chairman.
After this happened a few times, I said to a constable assigned to patrol the square that it would be nice if I could conduct a public debate without someone cursing me from the back.
He said he didn't think it was that much of a problem. Besides, he sort of agreed with the heckling considering some of the things I had written about the police.
(Ironically, when you consider that most controversy about police is when they over-react, I have had trouble getting them to act at all. I organized a publicity event in the civic square as a founding director of the Outdoor Art Show. I had some politicians compete to see who could produce the most interesting painting in 15 minutes while the media watched. The jerk showed up to yell curses at me and Mayor Art Eggleton. I pointed out to a watching cop that another of the artists was Roy McMurtry, the AG who became Chief Justice. The constable refused to do anything on the grounds that such an experienced group should knows how to deal with kooks.)
One year Rogers decided to do something different. They invited the public to the council chamber for the question period that would be run there by Vic Rauter, the curling guru who was then a young reporter anxious for any on-air experience if only on cable. Few people showed and Rauter looked lonely on the dais.
 I ran the main part of the debate from the mayor's office where the major candidates like John Sewell were seated in front of the mayor's desk that they hoped to occupy.
The show began with me making a grand entrance from near the private washroom. I strode confidently to the centre of the office but as I began, the mike popped off my lapel into the thick carpet.
I shouted in the vicinity of the mike, finally found it in the rug, fished it out and jammed it back on the lapel. Later they said that all my words were quite clear. "That is the advantage," the late Kip Moorcroft said, '"of hiring a guy with a big mouth. I mean loud voice."
I told the Rogers vice-president that he really meant the first version. When it comes to running political debates, it's useful when you don't let the hecklers, or the candidates, shout you down.


Monday, September 8, 2014

WE NEED MORE CRANKS



COME BACK ANDY ROONEY

You realize about the time you spend more time saving your body than you used to spend at work that a big city and its cottage countries can never be heaven.
But I refuse to stop fighting the little bursts of hell that can ruin a nice time.
So I can be cantankerous and the family get madder at me than at what upset me.
You realize that after the food finally arrives at the restaurant that you probably won't be able to hear your friends because of the music and the yowelling kids at the next table but you learn to put up with it for about five minutes.
But then....
You realize no computer works all the time and the TV which has more electronic firepower inside than used to be on a battleship will hiccup and Rogers will say they can come at 7 a.m. next week but you put up with it, sort of.
Though you may something to the person handling the complaint which is being monitored for quality assurance.  I suspect it is a computer monitoring a semi-computerized technician and nothing ever happens if they just hang up on you.
And so we all confront life, hoping to keep the hassles to a minimum, hoping that the slow driver won't always be in the passing lane on the trip to the cottage and when you get there the only neighbours not cutting their lawn won't have gone to town leaving their dogs to bark and bark and bark.
I was enjoying life at the Ex when a cute tot admired the flowers around the fountain south of the Bandshell at the E. I admired him. It was warm and peaceful, a scene right out of Norman Rockwell.
Then the tot plowed through the middle of the garden trampling lovely blossoms because he wanted to wade in the water. I waited for the parents to admonish him. They didn't. He kept trampling.They said not a word. So I did. Many! Loudly! Profanely!
Back when people knew who Rockwell was, and the Saturday Evening Post for which he did such great nostalgic covers was a huge hit, kids didn't crush gardens when the parents were around, and strangers didn't need to lecture the kid AND mom and dad.
Ironically, it was a famous rose garden. The roses seem fewer but enough have survived the budget cuts that I hoped the kid would get scratched. The garden has also survived the plot to put the turbine there, you know the money-losing windmill that rumour says no longer produces any power at all.  I proudly was the only one to vote against its construction. I lost but I did get it moved.
I was there resting from the air show which now has a strangled home along the waterfront because the city has let the breakwater deteriorate to such an extent that it isn't safe for large numbers at the water's edge.
That was the scene of my first encounter of the day, this time with a youth who said he was an air cadet, but from the amount of beer consumed by him and two buddies, they were older than cadets and already insolent.
The air show began with two anthems and the vice-regal salute since David Onley opened the program as our lieutenant governor who will be retiring honourably in just two weeks
The supposed cadets slouched into the anthems at the next table and then the runt, busy chewing his cud of gum, hiked his pants ostentatiously so he could shove his hands deeper into the pockets.
I don't believe I cursed but several hundred people, including Onley and Art Eggleton, the former mayor and defense minister, heard me bellow " take your hands out of your pockets."
They were so shocked at being called out, they didn't bluster a defense. I was prepared to toss them into the lake if they had, since I was reinforced by Mark, my son who has the build and temper of a tank.
Onley and Eggs agreed later that when we were youths, whether or not we had been in the army or cadets or as I had been in the RCAF Reserve, the idea of standing at attention during O Canada was something you knew by Grade One.  If I had pulled such a sad sack stunt at the Avenue Rd. RCAF base, I would still be marching around the drill square.As for chewing gum, that was banned from all schools and most offices.
I was strolling a broad sidewalk when a trio of women wearing the armour of first motherhood came marching toward me each pushing a stroller which had the look and bulk of an armoured personnel carrier.  The first glared at me when I didn't step off the sidewalk, since there was plenty of room to pass single file.
You know kid moms. We have to manouver around them in small restaurants and on the TTC. Why we even have the variation who wander slowly and obliviously across the intersection after the light has changed pushing the baby and pulling the dog while talking on the cell phone while traffic snarls.
Regular readers will recognize an old theme here, that it is not that we get crankier when we get older, we just won't put up with the crap anymore and speak out. No wonder Andy Rooney was such a popular part of 60 Minutes, the best TV show of its kind, and rants from acidic wits like Lewis Black are sought by smart producers.
I used to have this disagreement when I tried to hire older reporters. I was told they were worn out. No, I would say, they just won't put up with the BS and stupidity of young editors.
And so it is these days with life in general, especially in the big city that has too often outgrown its civility. There has been a decline in public politeness just as there has with routine service, whether you're trying to get an answer out of a bureauracy or negotiate your way through these automated telephone gauntlets where you remember fondly the good old days when actual people answered and actually looked after you.
Exasperations abound in this selfish careless city. Texting during meals. Sloppy scofflawism like cycling through crowded sidewalks and speeding through stop signs. Cellphoning through movies.
I couldn't use my TD discount brokerage account for two days and when I finally got a human to deal with it, she said that I talked too much as I explained my complaint. But, I said, it is TD who goofed. Why do you act as if I'm guilty?
The other day I had a credit card question for Costco. I am a big fan of that company and told people later it was dealt with efficiently. Then I realized it had taken me 30 minutes and that I had talked to three people at Costco and two at American Express. But then with some companies today I would still be on hold. So I was pleased it had only taken five calls and two long waits.
My family grumble when I explode. Have more patience, they say. Why be so confrontational! Except, I say, the decline will accelerate if we don't push back and speak out.
We have to tell the idiots to stop their kids from running wild, especially in gardens,
We have to insist openly that it's a fundamental to good manners and citizenship to honour O Canada.
We have to complain every time a company like Rogers has people dealing with complaints who act like they really don't give a damn and they hope that if they make it difficult enough, you will just go away.
If we don't grumble and honk and yell, the slide away from civility will continue and it will need more and more cranky old farts like me to howl at the moon about the good old days when service was more than just talking to a computer.


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Monday, August 25, 2014

STAR PRINTS anything IT CAN FIND


YOU HAVE TO FILL THE SPACE SOMEHOW

The Toronto Star goofed uniquely the other day. Now there's nothing unusual about the Star goofing but printing a complete page of sports stats that were nine months old is not something I have seen or heard about in half a century of journalism.
I might sympathize if the Star wasn't so uppity holier than thou, like the Liberals on a bad day.
After all, I have been in the trenches, in charge of getting a huge edition onto the presses and out in the street when the rewrite desk was manic, the editors helping me all seemed to be drunk and the press crew was smarting over imagined slights.
I don't devour sports stats like so many fans do but I did turn in my Sunday paper to check how far the Jays had fallen from their nest of superiority high above the division.
And what I found was NHL, NBA, NFL, skiing and curling results, in face so much from last winter that I looked out the window to see if this cold summer had ended and we were already launched into another frozen hell.
Oh yes, there were no baseball stats, and for some zealots, a day without arcane On Base Percentages or even ordinary averages is a day without sunshine.
The Star had a little correction the next day. I would have preferred a full story on what actually happened. It can be mysterious. I still remember the Grey Cup where the publisher asked me the next day in a roar why the special game edition came out with the stats story as the headline story and the main story on Page 3. But at least we were covering a game that had been  played hours before.
I was once killing time at a formal dinner with Ted Rogers, the communications czar, and we were yarning about how difficult it was to run a new media outlet. In my case, it was the Sun, where the 62 of us were expected to do several job each in the early 1970s, in his case it was CHFI when FM was still so rare he practically had to give away FM radios in the early 1960s.
Rogers had no reporting resources at all, which he tried to deal with by hiring Larry Henderson, who had been the first national newsreader for CBC TV. Henderson cobbled together a summary of the news and delivered it on tape at 11 p.m.
It had been a long day. Rogers said he was short staffed and the guy in the control room was reeling with fatigue . So he took mercy on him, sent him home early, and said he would run Henderson's tape and then take the station off the air.
Except he ran the wrong tape. It was from the day before. No one noticed, including Rogers until the next day. No one phoned in.
That was when, Ted told me, he figured he desperately needed more listeners. Of course now the station says most days it is the largest in the country.
Ironically, the guy who would have been most upset would have been Larry Henderson. He was legendary for his temper, actually swearing or mumbling on camera if he was told to speed up. He had stalked off a set on live TV when a stagehand messed up. But apparently he was already sleeping, like too many of the potential audience, and missed his commentary twice.
At least the Star can content itself that it didn't goof on Saturday, when it is the largest edition in Canada, and perhaps in Hades too. Maybe they need to use some of the resources wasted on the dead mayor walking on actually checking that they are printing yesterday's news.





Saturday, August 23, 2014

GROWN ACCUSTOMED TO THE WASTE


WASTE IS POLITICS IN 2014

Once upon a time, before the wasting of taxes became an epidemic, our politicians just didn't know how to screw spending up as badly as they do today.
Not only has the size of government exploded, especially in the care and feeding of the elected reps, so has the money thrown away on dubious projects.
Too many voters have become too blasé. The big question is will this change in the next election when it didn't in the last.
Consider that the outrage was over quickly when it came out that Waterfront Toronto had paid $946,140 for 36 pink metal umbrellas and two chunks of rocks to be placed at Sugar Beach.
 Sounds aptly named considering the monetary sugar lavished on people who sell beach umbrellas and rocks for a living.
Didn't we learn our lesson when we bought 700 tonnes of granite from a Muskoka farmer and plunked it down like a jigsaw puzzle from the Shield in a Yorkville park.
Many were as mad about that as they were decades later when the city kept tearing up any road near Bloor and Bay and kept doing it month after month after month while the stores wilted.
Our alleged transportation planners didn't have a plan because they didn't give a damn.
I can assure you as a veteran political observer, whether as City Hall reporter or daily columnist or  Editor, that this news about the silly beach decoration would have reverberated for months in the day and cost politicians and officials their jobs.
But not it seems in these urban days of waste.
Too many voters have come to accept this as the new norm. As more condemning proof, consider the hundreds of millions wasted by the provincial Liberals before they go re-elected.
There have been a number of references to past controversial urban decoration, such as Henry Moore's sculpture nicknamed the Archer. which is in the civic square near City Hall's doors.
 Just about every detail about it has been mangled, whether in the Star or various dubious Internet sources. Nathan Phillips Square was planned to have one major piece of art. So the city went after a creator of monumental art. The Archer cost $150,000. There was a fuss, and it didn't help that many didn't like its look.  So Mayor Phil Givens raised the money privately. Except the voters, who could still get mad then about such things, continued to believe that taxes paid for it and threw Givens out of office.
Givens was not a flash in the pan. He had been alderman and controller before mayor and later was a MP, MPP, police commission chair and judge.
Ironically, most of the media, especially the Star, have forgotten what came after that defeat, because it is significant in the history of one of the city's most important pieces.
William Campbell, the city treasurer, a wonderful steward of our taxes, got a phone call from Moore who was anxious to do a deal to avoid the English tax hit. Moore asked if the city would pay him over a few years. Campbell jumped at the opportunity. The pound fell against the Canadian dollar during the payment period and the distinctive sculpture that kids can ring like a gong ended up costing only $97,000.
So Campbell then paid to have the Archer put on a platform, then to have lights around it, then he bought a $6,000 Moore bust for the committee floor of the Hall, then...
It was an inside joke between the treasurer and me that he was such a great investor  he kept having to find more purchases for the Archer fund. If only we had officials like that today in government.
Ironically, the treasurer had a grandson named Rob Ford. Fifty years after the glib Givens was defeated by speech therapist William Dennison, indifference to waste had so festered that when Ford made a fuss about the waste at Sugar Beach, it was seen as just another hissy fit to support his pet bugaboo, derailing the gravy train at City Hall.
Yet one reason that even this clown still has some support with the electorate is that there are still people around who care less about his drunken excesses and more about his attempt to cut the drunken waste.
To me, that's the big municipal issue this October, the reason I told John Tory the other day that he should just keep hammering on the need to be much tougher on spending, to vow that council must stop being a patsy for the unions, in fact so weak in negotiation that spending just on police, fire and ambulance is now $1.7 billion, up from the one billion the expensive trio of emergency services cost each year just over a decade ago.
It's the taxes, stupid, voters must tell the candidates. Let the frothy stuff and the endless transit plans  be yammered about by editorial writers and activists.
Obviously there isn't a government department or agency at every level of government that doesn't have to do a better job in dealing with our money.  Just at City Hall you can run the gauntlet from the important mundane stuff to the exotic, from A to Z, and find ulcers.
A is for asphalt, and the terrible shape of our roads. They never have been this bad, not since we got rid of the mud roads of olde York. Yet at least one engineering expert claims one reason that all our potholes deepen and multiply like consultants is that they don't patch them correctly in the first place.
Z is for the zoo, where it seems for years that if the stories didn't concern shipping the three elephants
to another country, it was about the financial plight. Yet the preening zoo bosses took bows (and free trips to China) to get Er Shun and Da Mao, the two giant pandas that cost about $1.8 million annually to care for and rent from China. There's more cost and attention given their supply of bamboo food than the breakfast program in any humble school.
If you really wanted to fix the potholes, you would do it right the first time.
 If you really wanted to attract people to the zoo, you could spend a fraction of that $1.8 million and ship a couple of winners a month to Beijing as a gate prize and see the pandas there. Or buy them stuffed pandas.
 Chinese rulers are quite clever. They have suckered us into raising their cute bears that are endangered species because of their policies.
Unfortunately changes like this to the routine and the gimmicky would just save money, and as too many of our politicians at all levels prove most days, they only know how to spend. Their attitude is as certain as death and taxes.





Saturday, August 16, 2014

CNE SHOWS CAMPAIGN TOO DAMN LONG


 WE NEED LONGER HOLIDAYS FROM CAMPAIGNING

Went to the opening of the Ex the other morning. Speaking as someone who has run a few of those when I was CNE president, it went off well, except there were too many damn politicians who just had to be mentioned from the podium.
Of course the Ex, which is now independent of City Hall which charges us an enormous rent, wants to stay on the good side of just about everyone elected to a post higher than dogcatcher.
So Brian Ashton, the current president who retired as a very good councillor, made sure that every last politician within a kilometre of the place got a name nod. And then deputy mayor Norm Kelly introduced all the city councillors for the second time even though they richly deserve to be anonymous. Mark Grimes got several mentions because he's also head of Exhibition Place, the landlord that overcharges the fair for everything.
In fact, so many politicians had to be mentioned there was no time to introduce by name the group of fair directors like me even though we actually run the Ex and earn the free admission that all the politicians of the GTA expect as their due for doing nothing.
Then Ashton introduced sponsors (by name) and consuls (by name) and I saw Ex-goers who actually had paid to get in start to wander off despite nice bits like a youth choir from Haiti and actor R.H. Thompson with thoughtful words about the Great War.
There was plenty of opportunity as a national fair acted like a village one to think of  municipal election day even if it is still a couple of months away. The end of a tedious marathon. I did wonder what the opening of the Ex had to do with the mayoral election.
After all, on the stage was Rob Ford who boomed out a mediocre speech. At least he was invited this time. In recent years he's gatecrashed the stage.
In the front row was John Tory who I first met when he was a kid radio reporter working his way through Osgoode thanks to the family friendship with Ted Rogers. (He admits he routinely asked me for advice on municipal politics.)  He went on, of course, to greater things, a good political and business career. He's obviously the best candidate for mayor even if he was once president of that flawed cable company, Rogers. Even though I debated with him on his CFRB show as he roasted everything about the Ex.
Olivia Chow was floating around with a couple of campaign ladies buzzing like bees around the queen. Not to be outdone, Karen Stintz  came back to the reception clutching a stuffed animal she won on the midway.
 I surveyed this quartet of candidates and thought that since they were already boring in January, just how much more is going to be inflicted on us. Why have our election campaigns turned into a political version of the ordeal of Job  Why are Chow and Tory even introduced since they hold no elected office.
All their faces and quotes and policies have become so used in this process that they resemble the picked-over merchandise of a second-hand store.
What has the ordeal produced so far? Not much!
All that has happened is that Model T Ford has continued to be an international punch line for crack stupidity.
 So many transit plans have been brandished that it would take an eternity and Google to keep track.
One wonders that if the incumbent was not so flawed and so bumbling whether Chow and Stintz would even be running. After all they could use royal jelly as makeup and the obvious fact remains that they're mundane politicians. It does helps them a tad that they're women from the central city, perceived by activists and gLiberal commentators as the ideal antidote to a tight-fisted moron from the suburbs.
They really are puny candidates when you consider some of the masters in PR, manipulation, malapropism and longevity who have been dominant mayors since the city began. I've been acquainted with or covered every mayor for 50 years and by comparison to Lampy or Supermouth or the Tiny Perfect or Eggs, Stintz and Chow are like failed candidates for the school board.
The shame is that too many of us are tired already of watching them run in circles, dancing to the dictates of the 24-hour news cycle. I have covered, or have supervised the coverage of, dozens of elections at all levels, and I wouldn't cross the street to watch these guys in debate.
Seems a shame if we elect the candidate who bores us least. The way things have gone, there is no stunt that the Fords now could pull that would hurt or help him, and the others have been pouring their policy over our heads for so long, we wouldn't recognize a really good new idea unless it came with a guarantee to help everyone and hurt no one.
I know one really good new idea, that the next council make it illegal for anyone to campaign or raise election funds more than two months before the election day. Starting in January is silly!
With the communications we have today, with the huge growth in media, there is no need for a long campaign. Your message and your platform can be spread in days unless you're incompetent
It is silly to waste a spring and summer listening to politicians. We need a holiday from that mediocre clutch and the special interest groups that boss them around.
This present garbled mess just helps incumbents and insiders and turns the rest of us off. It's the reason the job and campaigning have become so time consuming. It's designed to make really bright lively people think that it's better to stay in the real world where of course many ordinary people can't slip away from a job in order to be introduced from a stage at 10 a.m. on a Friday and be applauded by all the other politicians.
I didn't clap!

Friday, August 1, 2014

THE HARM FROM SPEED LIMITS


POLITICS, NOT SAFETY, IS THE PROBLEM

Our major highways would be safer if we could drive faster legally. The experts say so, but too many  politicians keep their foot on the brake when it comes to such change.
There is no doubt that the 400 series of super roads in Ontario and similar roads elsewhere would be safer if the speed limit was 120 km/h (or 75 mph.)
In fact, most of the public have taken the law limiting us to 100 and shaken it by the neck until it was dead. It died years ago. After all, it is common knowledge that such roads were built to handle vehicles at speeds of 120 or 125.
The limits were reduced or not increased because politicians believed that would help the environment and reduce the use of fuel. Turned out they were wrong.
The consensus in the transportation world is that fast is the new goal in road safety. If the rest of Canada follows what has just happened in B.C., and some states,  it would reduce the great differences in the speed of vehicles which is the major cause of accidents because it would reduce the number of slow vehicles holding up the traffic flow.
Accident rates throughout the world have always gone down when motorists are allowed to go faster.
I used to campaign regularly on this subject, irked by the fact that the dubious top legal limit turned me into a scofflaw anytime I drove more than 10 kilometres on a big highway.
In addition to my daily column, I sat on the venerable Ontario Safety League, an advisory board on safety, particularly on roads, and wrote articles and editorials for the motor league magazine before it became a limp travel promotion.
Because of this work, I had plenty of opportunity to question transportation ministers and top cops about what they though of a real speed limit like 120 on major highway. I never had one disagree that was not sensible....but they did so off the record.
In fact, I had top politicians, from premiers to mayors, confess that they just couldn't do their job if they or their drivers didn't drive between cities at 120.
The problem is, green lobbies and some police associations are opposed, although they can point to no major evidence that says the increase would be a terrible thing.
An editorial in Maclean's, which continues to be a better magazine that it was just a few years ago, suggests that it is only sensible to have speed limits set by the opinion of the masses, to study how they drive now on the road under question.
Imagine that! Majority rule actually working in a democracy.
The magazine also suggested a sensible measure that I have advocated, that if 85% of the drivers obey the new higher limit, enforcement could be increased to catching and punishing the 15% who now will drive much fasfer.
Opponents always cite this argument, that if we are allowed to drive 20 k faster, then the speeders will just move up another 20 k higher than their present speed. And the super roads are dangerous at 150.
 There isn't a day on 400 or 401 that many of us aren't annoyed at the very slow vehicle, or a car blocking the passing lane, or the distracted driver, or the motorist cutting back and forth.
They cause the accidents, not the driver doing 116 to 120 (because we know most police will allow this in good conditions) or doing 90 on other roads where the limit is 80.
The very fact that there is this hidden truce allowing us to go up to 120 now just demonstrates that the cops have agreed with the experts, that when it comes to their laudable goal of reducing accidents, there are more things to worry about that some guy driving 120 in a peaceful way.
If you are a politician or a cop who disagrees with that, then you have to allow the installation of a gadget that records the speeds that you drive.
Anyone who insists they always drive only 100 on a big highway is really not the saint they think smugly that they are but more a sinner putting the rest of us into more danger.
The present situation where cops can ding you at 115 if they feel like it, which creates some of those slow drivers, has more to do with cash register law enforcement than serving and protecting. It smacks of the speed trap thats only purpose is to collect a lot of money for the politicians to waste.
Something like 80% of drivers tell pollsters they would like to drive 120 on super highways and not worry about how cops are feeling that day. Queen's Park owes us an explanation of why our wishes of how we use our roads is ignored.