Drivers who stop their cars curbside on busy rush-hour arterials should face a stiff fine, and a greater likelihood of being caught, according to city councillor Josh Matlow.
“I’ll often find myself crawling in traffic – assuming it might be an accident or some construction – and then I find out it’s actually some selfish bozo, taking up a lane, grabbing a coffee or picking up dry cleaning,” said Matlow in an interview Tuesday. “That’s more important to him than the 30 or 40 cars behind him that are trying to get somewhere.”
Matlow has crafted a notice of motion to go to the next council meeting, asking that the city get tougher with drivers who block arterial roads during rush hour. Currently, those drivers face just a $40 to $60 fine and a chance of a tow.
Matlow wants to bump the fine up to $500, and find a way to have more police officers enforcing parking regulations at rush hour than currently exist.
“The reason I want to raise the fine up to $500 is because these individuals who are blocking traffic – if they’re that selfish then perhaps if they got to thinking about their own pocket books, they’d think twice,” he said. “And we’ve got to do a better job of enforcement.”
Public Works and Infrastructure Committee Chair Denzil Minnan-Wong agreed with the motion.
“It’s incredibly frustrating, especially during rush hour, when you’re travelling downtown to see an inconsiderate motorist stop on a busy street and have traffic line up unnecessarily,” he said. “I’m not opposed to looking at heavier fines.”
Minnan-Wong said the notice of motion should properly go to city staff who are currently devising a transportation plan for the downtown core. That plan is expected to include, among other things, a network of physically separated bike lanes.
Matlow said the motion ought to help heal the rift that has developed between cyclists and motorists over the past several years.
“Right now we have such a polarized debate in the city between bicyclists and drivers,” he said. “I submit that an issue like this will appeal to drivers and bicyclists. Drivers because we don’t want to get in traffic because some selfish bozo thinks their coffee and dry cleaning is more important; cyclists because we don’t want to swerve into traffic because somebody’s parked in a bike lane.”
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