Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Readers lean toward leniency

Good Samaritan vows to fight traffic ticket; Winnipeggers offer to pay it

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On Saturday, I left you with a question: What would you do?

It relates to a traffic incident last week. A 76-year-old Southdale man, who was driving cancer patients to their treatments in rush-hour morning traffic, was pulled over by police for taking a shortcut through a lane reserved for buses and bicycles. Ed Macyk, a cancer survivor himself, has been driving patients five days a week for three years, battling poor winter roads and, in this instance, backed-up traffic while trying to get them to their treatments on time.

The young police officer who directed him into a parking lot on Goulet Street near Tache Avenue could see he had three passengers and the vehicle clearly marked as transportation for cancer patients. No matter. Police tagged him with a $203.80 ticket. Hence the question about what would you have done had you been the cop in that situation.

The responses from readers who answered, either online or directly to me, ranged from soft-hearted to hard line.

You can read the posted comments on the Free Press website. What follows are some of the responses from those who chose to email me directly. Among them, a young cop, a nurse, a retired doctor and a bus driver of my acquaintance.

The Young Cop: "I must say that I am disappointed to have read that this actually occurred... Being a police officer with five years of service, I have never seen any such set of circumstances where some form of discretion has not been used. Every situation is different; as you stated... we are human. It is my personal experience that honesty carries significant weight. Anyone who is fully willing to admit that they were wrong, made the mistake, and the reason why, deserves the respect to receive a fair warning. It is sometimes forgotten that just because we can, doesn't mean we have to."

The Nurse: "Ed is providing transportation for multiple people, on a regular basis, on behalf of an organization. Ed is a form of transit (charitable). I will remember this the next time the police association calls me asking for money for one of its charities. I am a nurse at St. Boniface hospital, so my opinion is subjective, and I am aware of the traffic. Keep up the good work, Ed."

The Retired Doctor: "CancerCare Manitoba should put a sticker or sign on the vehicle saying that it is a CancerCare Transit Vehicle. This should make the vehicle legal to be in transit lanes. Granted a violation is a violation, however, because of the service Ed delivers to our citizens, the ticket is a slap that is so undeserved. I don't think that even our Transit drivers would object to Ed being in their lane."

No? Well, look who's next up.

The Bus Driver: "Guilty -- pay up!"

There were all kinds of other comments from Joe and Jane Citizens. But there was also this story from a woman who sympathized with Ed. Last year about this time, she had been on the way to the hospital in morning traffic when she was pulled over at the same place for doing the same thing as Ed. Except she said didn't know she was doing anything wrong when she moved into the bus lane too early to make the turn onto Tache.

Yet, the officer gave her break.

I asked why she thought he only issued her a warning.

She didn't know.

"I didn't try to talk my way out of it. I had no valid reason to expect only a warning. The officer explained the point of the law and I thanked him and told him I would know better next time I had to enter a bus lane. Maybe I reminded the officer of his grandmother? Can anyone really know why?"

As for Ed, he was back to driving patients as usual Monday, but he wanted to add something. He thinks the rush-hour bus lanes should also be designated for civilian emergency situations, so drivers can put on their four-way flashers if they're in urgent need of getting to a hospital.

Personally, I think some could be designated high-occupancy vehicle lanes for cars carrying at least three people. In that case, Ed wouldn't have been given a ticket.

He has one now, though, and he's vowing to fight it, even though there were readers who offered to pay it.

"The money is not the real issue here," Ed said. "It's the principal and not getting any demerits on my licence."

For the record, Ed has a no demerits.

So we now know what Ed is going to do, but I was asking what you would have done if you had pulled him over.

We will offer the last answer to an expert witness of sorts; a retired police officer who emailed me directly and also had the last comment I saw online Monday.

"The officer was not wrong issuing a ticket (but) he would not have been criticized for giving a warning."

I think that's what you call walkin' the thin blue line.

gordon.sinclair@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 13, 2014 0

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