Thursday, June 25, 2009

RG's break, Day 1: Don't Tase me, bro!

On my first day off, I went for a bike ride, took some photos...

...and wrote a letter to the NCC:

I spoke with Sarah around 16h00 about the traffic re-routing situation on Colonel By Drive just West of Bank Street, where a vehicle had plunged into the Rideau Canal this morning.

My complaints were/are that the entire grassy area between the Driveway and the canal was closed off with police tape, and pedestrians and cyclists were told by an RCMP officer halfway through the cordoned off zone to walk/bike on the roadway.

As you can see in the attached photo taken at 14:23:

  • the South side of Colonel By Drive has an embankment that prevents people from walking on that side

  • While pedestrian traffic is barricaded, motor traffic is able to travel completely freely and, aside from the flashing lights on the police/conservation vehicles parked on the grass, there is nothing (i.e. signage, officers directing traffic) suggesting they need to slow down.

  • Colonel By Drive is curved at this part, lowering visibility for westbound motorists who may not expect to share the road with pedestrians or cyclists (and for eastbound motorists to give more room for westbound motorists passing cyclists/pedestrians)

  • There is a long stretch between the near ribbon of police tape and the far one, with nothing to indicate to pedestrians and cyclists where they are expected to go

  • The police officer is stationed halfway between these two ribbons and was angrily accosting every pedestrian and cyclist who walked on the grassy side of the curb, as if it were obvious not to walk on the grass

  • Because the police officer is only confronting pedestrians/cyclists once they reach him, one sees others in ahead walking toward him on the grass, and one assumes that it is therefore permissible to be there.
It would be quite a tragedy if a pedestrian or cyclist were to be injured in a collision as a result of this officer telling them to walk on the unimpeded roadway.

As mentioned on the phone, I think the first priority should be to prevent risk of injury to bystanders, and that would mean putting up pylons, barricades, or police tape providing a safe channel for pedestrians and cyclists to walk on the roadway during the course of the investigation.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter. I hope this suggestion is incorporated into officers' standard procedures for such pathway closures.

The mountie was particularly aggressive to me, because I wasn't just passing through, I had stopped and was taking photos. "What are you doing?" he snapped at me as I was walking back toward Bank Street. "I'm taking photos," I replied casually. I figured that if those two people with much nicer cameras than mine could be much further into the grass (right behind the metal barricade in the photo below), I could stand by the curb and take a few shots of my own.

"Well take your photo and get out of here," he shouted.

"Je l'ai déjà prix!" I changed back to him, still walking away.

After a few more steps, I stopped, looked back to offer him a glare (he was busy grumbling at another cyclist), turned back away, took this photo of his car, and decided to continue my departure at a much more casual rate.

It was much later when I thought of "Don't tase me, bro!" as an alternate retort.

I understand that nobody was injured in the crash, but an investigation is ongoing and divers are still at work to ensure that the vehicle isn't leaking any fluids.

- RG>

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