Cities and cycling
Re: Regulate cyclists (Letters, Jan. 13)
Dale Patterson’s idea to improve commuting by banning bicycles from downtown from November to May is unlike the successful approaches of cities in which I have cycled.
Bogota pioneered rapid bus transit and cycling infrastructure and restricts cars to being used on alternative days. Quito took similar approaches. Paris removed car lanes in favour of pedestrians and cyclists, banned older diesel cars and, in order to reduce pollution, has banned up to 60 per cent of vehicles from using a major highway.
My time cycling in the Netherlands this summer was particularly instructive. There is free parking (for the first 24 hours) for 22,000 bicycles at Utrecht Central Station — a major rail and bus hub.
At a restaurant in Deventer, an elderly couple arrived by bicycle with a walking cane tied to one of the bikes — a living example of research concluding that Dutch elders are healthier and better socially connected than those in North America, in part because a significant fraction of the Dutch are still cycling in their 80s.
UNICEF rates Dutch children as the happiest in the world, which has been partly attributed to the improved health, confidence and independence of travel by bicycle.
The cost of having a bicycle-friendly community is not trivial, but neither is the cost of not having a bicycle-friendly community: citizens who are less healthy, seniors who are socially isolated, children whose well-being is compromised by being chauffeured everywhere and a car-dominated culture of pollution and congestion seen, in many major cities, as a blight on the community.
Some cities have endorsed Patterson’s idea of a trail pass, but for cars, not bikes: New York is introducing a $15 charge for a car ($30 for a truck) to enter downtown — an approach proven successful in London over the past 16 years.
Respect for Bighill
Re: Blue Bomber takes stand over remarks (Jan. 14)
The story on Adam Bighill and his son, living for now with a cleft palate, and the social injustice of mockery of persons born with this condition, is sadly reminiscent of days gone by.
Remember when Jean Chrétien ran for prime minister in the 1990s and some of his foes mocked him and his manner of his speaking from the side of his mouth? Chrétien did not respond right away, and in typical fashion let the naysayers pick up enough slack in the rope to thoroughly hang themselves.
He then simply stated a few days later that as a boy he suffered an attack of Bell’s palsy, which resulted in a partial paralysis of his face. End of story. Who looked foolish?
I have the utmost respect for Bighill and his family to carry on despite he and his son’s malformality. It sure did not stop him from being one of the best CFL linebackers, and winning the Grey Cup in November.
Re: MLA Fontaine fails to deliver poetic justice (Jan. 11)
Carl DeGurse’s assessment of MLA Nahanni Fontaine’s intervention in the Steven Brown/University of Regina controversy is spot-on.
By demanding the removal of Brown’s poetry from the Parliamentary Poet Laureate website, Fontaine and her fellow social justice warriors have brought not only national, but international, recognition to the poetry of a relatively obscure individual.
Nobody outside of Regina would have been aware of Brown, but the firestorm of controversy has piqued my interest, as well as probably that of many thousands of others worldwide, in Brown’s writings.
Their unintended consequences have likely made Brown’s book of poems, Angel’s Crossings (which I had never heard of before), more famous than a lifetime of promotion would have done.
Keep the daylight
Re: Summer sunlight (Letters, Jan. 10)
In response to letter writer Doug Edmond, I agree wholeheartedly that we should not get rid of daylight saving time because of the beautiful long evenings.
So let’s please forget about standard time and remain on daylight time all year. We would enjoy an extra hour of afternoon or evening sunshine all winter and summer!
I, for one, dread the biannual change of the clock.
Royals and regular folk
The arrival of some recent newcomers to Canada raises some puzzling, and perhaps troubling, questions.
Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, have decided to abandon most of what is the circus around the Royal Family in England for a more "normal" life in Canada. Kudos to them! Many questions are raised by the decision.
Given their new role as regular folk, did they apply to become landed immigrants? If not, does their not-so-regular royal status give them the right to just waltz into Canada and declare residency here?
The most troubling question is regarding the cost of the security presumably required for the couple. If they did apply for landed immigrant status, was the security issue and its cost part of the consideration to grant them residency?
Given that, for example, families with a child with a disability have their immigration application denied based on the presumed cost of that child, one would hope the security bill would have been settled. But the government has indicated that has not been decided at this point.
Canadian citizens who are in need of protection, such as women who have been abused by their partners and who have restraining orders against them, do not get 24-hour protection by the RCMP or any other police force. Why, then, is the government considering providing security? It would make sense that the couple would would be required to obtain their own security, given that they are in a financial position to do so.
If they are not landed immigrants, one presumes they also do not have to pay taxes in Canada, like the rest of us. Does that mean they do not have the right to health care and other services that citizens do? Or are we giving them a pass on that? I think Harry and Meghan need to decide that if they want to be treated like regular people, they need to act as such — at least while they are in Canada.
That means paying taxes, being responsible for their own security and having the same duties and responsibilities as the rest of us. The government of Canada can help them with their transition by treating them like any other newcomers.
Ban a bad idea
Re: Councillor calls for national handgun ban (Jan. 13)
Here we go again! A Winnipeg city councillor is calling for a handgun ban in the city. A Winnipeg police spokeman says banning handguns in the city would not change anything. Criminals will not turn in their handguns, but law-abiding handgun owners will have to surrender theirs.
If such an edict goes forward, each and every handgun owner should be duly compensated by a fair market value for each of their guns. Certainly, we should expect all Winnipeg police officers, all military personnel and all RCMP officers within city limits to surrender their own personal handguns.
Would all the handgun owners who live just outside Winnipeg and in towns around the province be exempt from this proposed ban?
Robert J. Moskal