The BC NDP and their lousy answers to traffic safety concerns

SENSE BC is apolitical and we’ve no axe to grind with any political party; they get praised when we feel they’ve done something right, and they get scolded if they do something wrong. The BC Liberals have done plenty wrong with respect to the BC Motor Vehicle Act changes in 2010. Their on-the-spot impounds by police, for a mere allegation of excessive speeding, have no place in a democracy (except under extreme circumstances); particularly when many highway speed limits are demonstrably low to begin with. We’ve scolded them for the dishonest theft of nearly $1b from ICBC to “balance” the provincial budget. And we’ve been vocal about what’s wrong with the BC Civil Forfeiture office which has morphed, from taker of ill gotten gains from thieves, to confiscator of super cars from rich Asian kids – for now.

The BC NDP are the official opposition and it’s their job to provide parliamentary balance and critique stupid legislation. Where’s the NDP been on all of the above? Apart from some thoughtful debate about the 2010 MVA changes from Public Safety critic Kathy Corrigan, there’s been little said by the NDP about what most drivers know to be the elephant in the room, which is unrealistic speed limits in BC. In fact, they’ve been downright lame.

Chris Thompson’s film Speed Kills: Your Pocketbook was released on Sept. 11, 2013 and in under one week it was a Youtube hit with more than one million viewers – with overwhelming support for its proposition. Along with the release was a plea on the SENSE BC website for viewers to email Premier Christy Clark, Transportation Minister Todd Stone and their MLAs. Many people did, and from the looks of the identical boiler plate responses we’ve seen so far, it looks like the NDP just don’t get it, or worse … they are still just the same dumb bunch whose answer to traffic safety in the 90’s was to take us as fools and throw away $130m on photo radar.

Nothing drives public cynicism in politics more than elected representatives who refuse to tell it like it is.

So here’s what we wrote to the NDP MLAs the other day:

Hello:

We’ve been getting some concern from NDP MLAs’ constituents following a letter they sent to their MLAs concerning speed limits on BC Highways in response to the recent video “SPEED KILLS: YOUR POCKETBOOK”. I thought I would forward the following thoughts, to you three, as one or all of you are the most likely originators of the letter. If not, could you please pass this email onto whoever it is?

Here’s a sample email:

I used your website’s function to send a letter to politicians expressing my support of sensible speed limits. Just today I received a “canned” response from my MLA, … , which seems to totally ignore the intent of my message. His response includes the following lines:

“Excessive speeding is a serious threat to public safety, with higher driving speeds linked to an increase in the frequency and severity of car accidents.”…“Pending the outcome of the review, B.C.’s New Democrats will continue to support the enforcement of current speed limits while putting the focus on needed improvements to our provincial roads, bridges, and highways.”

Please note that nowhere in the original email to you is there a mention of excessive speed, rather the intent is to demand correctly set limits which represent the UPPER END of safe travel speeds by the reasonable and safe majority on BC highways.

To answer an email as you did above is showing your constituents that you either missed entirely what the concern is, or you refuse to acknowledge it. In addition, when multiple MLAs send the same boiler plate email, it sends a strong message to the recipient(s) that either:

a) the MLA has no clue how to reply (and has forwarded it to someone in the party that hopefully does)

b) that the MLA does not care enough to think through a response and reply personally,

c) that the party is sticking with the status quo and party members are being instructed to follow, or

d) all of the above.

It’s appalling, really, that you believe your letter is appropriate given what so many drivers know to be true. Speed Kills Your Pocketbook – a video illustrating the frustration many BC drivers feel daily with BC’s often inconsistent and under-posted speed limits – quickly went viral throughout North America, racking up over a million views in under a week. The down votes to the video’s proposition of raising speed limits, has been almost immeasurably small at 0.03%.

Yet many BC politicians, as illustrated by your party MLAs’ careless / thoughtless remarks, remain beholden to the story the video refutes: that speed is killing us.

Nobody is questioning that dangerous drivers exist and that tragic crashes happen, nor that unsafe speed, wide differences in speed (different than speeding) can be responsible. But the narrative we’ve been fed since the introduction of photo radar is a trite bit of marketing backed up by snapshots of statistics that don´t match the sales pitch.

Notwithstanding that SENSE BC is apolitical; your party, the BC NDP introduced photo radar and sponsored significant disinformation and hysteria in the 1990s in order to garner public support (which quickly eroded) for a program doomed to fail from the start.

You were on the side of both dubious science and the wrong side of public opinion then, and you are hereby on notice that your letters indicate your party, unbelievably, may be continuing this trend in 2013.

Comments

  1. Maria

    October 7, 2015

    The Liberals were called Socreds bferoe. It doesn’t matter what they’re called as long as the people label themselves right wing they’ll vote for it. Most of the right wingers are old, retired govt stiffs who never completed high school, got their jobs through nepotism and have never known a hard day and bought properties now worth millions, and vacation in the south for six months of the year. Visit central BC and you’ll get an idea.

    • Ian

      October 7, 2015

      What has this to do with the article?

  2. Jo

    July 6, 2014

    Your suggested speed hikes are a total disregard for human life. We do not have the Audubon. Our traffic is horrendous and now you want excessive speed??? Thanks for screwing us big time. What did you have to gain? There could be no good reason. None! A total disaster!
    I don’t WANT to drive at 120km! yet one MUST maintain the speed or chance being ticketed. To say you only have to take the right lane is FALSE. Your rep who made TV comments were totally false and misleading to the public.

    Accident and death rates will increase. There can be no doubt as drivers will be out of control. You say that a high percentage of people wanted higher speed. Who was asked? When was there a public question? I am personally outraged. You do not speak for ALL of us……..and who the H— is “Sense” BC?

    • SENSE BC

      July 6, 2014

      Thank you for taking the time to write and thank you for crediting SENSE BC for the speed LIMIT adjustments however we cannot take credit for the action, only credit for helping to rally people to the cause over time. Here are the answers to your questions / statements:

      1) Our traffic is horrendous and now you want excessive speed???

      A:Nobody has advocated “excessive speed”, rather we advocate the setting of speed LIMITS at the 85th percentile. There is another blog article on our site if you’d like to read about it. I also suggest you read the BC Government’s own Speed Limit Review so you can understand how it works.

      2) What did you have to gain?

      A: We as drivers ALL gain when speed limits are set at the upper end of safe travel speed travelled by the reasonable majority. The result is that motorists are advised of the general prevailing travel speeds and WE are not subjected to arbitrary ticketing by law enforcement. In turn, law enforcement can devote their resources toward offences with proven negative safety consequences.

      3) I don’t WANT to drive at 120km! yet one MUST maintain the speed or chance being ticketed.

      A:Nobody is forcing you to drive at any speed. And it appears you are getting speed LIMITS confused with travel speeds. If you read the report from the Government, you’ll notice that ALL of the speed limit hikes still do not represent the prevailing travel speeds. In other words, on the Coquihalla for instance, the 85th percentile (the speed to which most vehicles travel) is at 127 km/h yet the limit is only going to 120. Again, you don’t need to drive to 120. Choose your own comfortable speed, but please Keep Right Except to Pass.

      4) To say you only have to take the right lane is FALSE. Your rep who made TV comments were totally false and misleading to the public.

      A: No it’s not false. I suspect you’ve never had driver training, read your motor vehicle act or travelled elsewhere in the world.

      5) Accident and death rates will increase.

      A: This is false, I recommend you spend some time on our website and most importantly read the BC Speed Limit Review report.

      6) You say that a high percentage of people wanted higher speed. Who was asked? When was there a public question?

      A: Do you read the paper, watch TV, listen to radio? All of the BC public were invited to a series of open houses by the BC Government over a period of months beginning in October 2013. There was also a questionnaire provided online. Again, read the BC Speed Review and see for yourself what was done. Your opinion is not shared by the majority of respondents who, depending on locations, responded positively by over 80% in some cases. This is also shared by many motorists where we know on many highways there is only 30% adherence to speed limits.

      7) You do not speak for ALL of us……..and who the H— is “Sense” BC?

      A: No, we don’t. These things must be decided by democratically elected governments with input from all people who pay for and use the roads. Further, it should not be a decision by politicians, police, certain individuals or any special interest group; rather it should be an ENGINEERING decision.

  3. Cec Dunn

    January 24, 2014

    I am a little surprized that you claim “apolitical”, yet headline your criticism of the NDP, while David Eby demonstrates a reasoned response. I dare say that if you canvas the liberal MLAs, you will get the same canned response.

    • Ian

      January 24, 2014

      On the contrary, we’ve been ruthless with the BC Liberals. If you’ve monitored our Facebook and Twitter feeds we’ve ridden Shirley Bond mercilessly for her inept handling of the portfolio and bad management of former Supt. of MV Steve Martin, when she was Solicitor General. We made a special note above that David Eby (an NDP MLA) posted a thoughtful letter and we acknowledge it. You should know that when the NDP were ruining, I mean running, the province, there were up to 500,000 moving violations per year. If the NDP had their way, there’s little doubt those numbers would have gone higher (and we’d have photo radar on every street by now). Now there are less than 200,000 moving violations. The truth is that both parties up until now have pandered to special interests and as a result, the driving / transportation experience in BC is appalling in a relative sense. The BC Speed Limit Review is a BC Liberal initiative; the NDP had their chance, multiple times, to initiate it or advocate for it and they didn’t. I met personally with influential members of the NDP caucus, and although polite listeners, they shared the same traits they’re always known for: stuck in some sort of dogma that has little to do with economic or practical reality. Sorry, couldn’t help it. Yes we’re apolitical.

  4. Cec Dunn

    January 24, 2014

    Although I agree with the example like South East Marine Drive, it is common knowledge that many of the entrances and exits to our highways are not designed for higher speed entrance and exits. In fact, they are dangerous due to the abrupt speed change supposedly required.
    I would appreciate some comment on this issue.
    thanks

    • Ian

      January 24, 2014

      Thanks for the comment, but it’s not true. BC errs far too much on the side of caution and the downside is that drivers are now conditioned to it. The result is that nobody pays attention to signs. Even the tourists will tell you this (see SENSE BC Youtube video with the British tourist).

      • cec dunn

        January 26, 2014

        Ok, so you don’t believe short entrance ramps are problematic. What supporting documentation do you have to support this.
        thanks

        • Ian

          January 26, 2014

          Sorry, what I meant is “it’s not true” when you asserted “it’s common knowledge”. We’ve not heard it before, although not denying some may exist. Perhaps you could provide the reference?BTW, the 85th percentile method of measuring travel speeds assumes that drivers intuitively adjust their speeds to accommodate all kinds of factors (including entrances and exits).

  5. Ian

    November 4, 2013

    A thoughtful response from David Eby (an NDP MLA and a cycling advocate). It’s a good letter:
    Thank you for writing to me about provincial speed limits. I know for many people in our constituency, their main concern is simply moving in traffic or on transit at all, let alone at a higher speed. Our caucus has set improving the efficiency and safety of our highways and protecting those on the road as a priority. We are focussing on a well-planned transit and road system that helps move people along to work and home quickly and with a minimum of nightmarish frustration.

    On the issue of raising speed limits in particular, I’ve looked into your question and I’m told that the Ministry of Transportation has announced they will conduct a review of provincial speed limits and release their findings in the coming months. In this process I’ll be pushing hard to ensure that the study was comprehensive and balanced.

    At the end of the day, I’m sure we agree that the safety of all road users is the highest priority and that safety must be a guiding principle of the Ministry’s review. I expect, and will be pressing, the Ministry to ensure that their safety review is done not in a vacuum, but in the light of the way people in BC actually use the roads, and how the speed limits are actually enforced by police.

    Pending the outcome of the review, I will be in touch to share the study’s results with you. I look forward to dealing with what is obviously an aggravation for you within the realm of ensuring our roads are safe, while also fighting what appears to me to be a major issue in the Lower Mainland, which is the minimum speed we all have to drive far too often because of overwhelming congestion on our transit and road system in this part of the province.

  6. Geoff

    October 5, 2013

    Yeah, I got the same “boiler plate” response. I will admit, though, that the email I sent was a form letter from SenseBC…so far as yet, I haven’t e-mailed my MLA to refute their response, as I doubt they ever even read the original.

    • Ian

      October 7, 2013

      Geoff: This issue has, and will have, a lot of momentum. If you can’t expect your MLA to engage now, you can never expect it. If you want action, you will need to hold feet to the fire.

  7. Keith Giesbrecht

    September 29, 2013

    We’ve got an uphill battle against rampant disinformation and hysteria. Let’s keep up the fight.

    • Ian

      September 29, 2013

      Keith, thanks. It’s not uphill really. Timing is everything.

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