Local Politics

7 Jul

I wrote an irate letter to my local council, perhaps you would like to read it.

Dear Mr Taylor,

I write to you in response to the letter sent 5th of July 2010, regarding the newest changes to parking restrictions on <redacted> road, ones made without regard or input from residents. I don’t know how much of an interest you have in scientific study, but upon reading your letter I am reminded of an experiment that seems relevant to this situation.

At Stanford University in the 1960’s, children were brought into a room where a tray of confectionary sat on a table. The children, accompanied by a scientist, were given a choice: either eat one of the treats immediately, or wait several minutes while the scientist ran an errand. If the child could resist temptation, upon his return they would receive two. Of the 350 or so children involved, about 30% chose to wait. In the decades that followed the researchers routinely interviewed their subjects and discovered that the children who chose to wait were happier, more intelligent and had more prosperous careers. It is my contention that <redacted> Council is run by the sort of children who stuff their mouths with fear or hesitation.

Lest this metaphor run away with itself, I will be blunt. You were allotted a certain amount of money for road maintenance, which, I will assume, was too much. Knowing full well that if you failed to spend it all the powers-that-be would slash your next budget (which meant your Christmas bonus would go down and you wouldn’t make that next boat payment) you had to do something drastic. And so what followed was an orgiastic spree of pointless spending of the exact kind conservatives won’t stop bringing up every time I have anything nice to say about the Left Wing. Let’s take a moment to review these changes, all of which were made within a single kilometre of suburban street in the last five years under the guise of ‘safety’:

  • A large sign was installed opposite <redacted> Primary School, indicating the new 40-kph speed limits. While this was a positive safety measure it was one enacted by State law and budgeted accordingly, so no credit can be given to your office.
  • Credit can be given to the surrounding speed limit signs. The ones you chose to install are a fraction of the normal size and attached to electricity poles rather than purpose-built structures, and as a result are routinely ignored.
  • A traffic island was installed at the intersection of <redacted> and <redacted> road. This process took months, frequently delaying buses, which then failed to connect to outgoing trains, costing thousands of dollars in lost man-hours. Once complete, the angle of the traffic island was so extreme that incoming vehicles are forced to swing further out into the other lane (and oncoming traffic) in order to get through, making the intersection more dangerous as a result.
  • Every bus stop was dug up and refitted with textured concrete in order to help the blind navigate the public transportation. Unfortunately, not every bus stop has an accompanying footpath so the blind are only assisted for approximately 3 feet.

Now to the object of contention: the bike paths. Perhaps your office has received hundreds of complaints from furious cyclists demanding space on the road. Perhaps you thought making the available road space narrower would increase safety. Perhaps Gerry spent the whole afternoon making that bicycle stencil and he’s had a hard week what with Denise leaving him and all so you didn’t want to disappoint the guy. Whatever the reason, I am truly amazed that <redacted> road now contains a bicycle path. Since the time it was painted, I have seen precisely zero bicycles use it. While I admit that I am not omniscient and may have missed the oncoming glut of spandex-clad men and women proudly rolling down my street, but surely if demand was so great at least one single cyclist would’ve crossed my field of vision. As of today, this is not the case.

This may appear to be exaggeration, but in the 5 years I have lived on <redacted> road I have seen no more than 10 bicycles. In contrast, I have personally witnessed a dozen crashes at the corner of <redacted> and <redacted> road, to seemingly no effect on the council. If you were at all concerned with road safety instead of adding projects to your resume, why not consider installing a small roundabout there. It may, unlike the millions of dollars you’ve already frittered away, save somebody’s life.

In future, I will disregard any and all traffic restrictions put in place to prevent me from parking out the front of my own home. Presently, your office has shown the intelligence of a sack of freshly-beaten voles with the foresight to match. Should this change, you will have my full and unwavering support.

Yours truly,

Medium Fries

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