Thursday, October 29, 2009

Blue Line Taxi #522 is a menace to society

This afternoon, while walking to lunch, I made the decision to jay-walk across Cooper at Elgin (as I frequently do while walking). There was only one car coming, and it was far enough away that I'd be out of the intersection by the time the car approached.

Turns out, the car, which was Blue Line Taxi #522, sped up. As he went to turn left through the intersection, I felt his tire rub against the heel of my shoe.

"Motherfucker!" I exclaimed.

Two women who had just crossed Elgin (with the light) turned and looked at me, I guess to see if I was referring to one of them.

"That taxi just hit my foot!" I clarified.

The ladies remarked that they were just talking to each other about how fast that taxi took the turn.

I'd report the driver, but I've had bad luck. Last time I reported a driver glancing me (at the time, I was on my bike), the only witness I had (an OC Transpo driver) didn't see the car contact me because he was on the other side of the car. Similarly, these two women didn't see the taxi glance my foot. I could have gotten their information as witnesses to the speed at which the taxi was going, but pedestrians can't judge the exact speed at which a motorist goes--he might have technically been going the limit, but it looked faster because nobody in their right mind goes 50 km/h on Elgin, especially around a corner.

Also, the previous time, while my brake lever made some marks on the driver's rear passenger door (I saw them in great detail because the incident happened in slow-motion for me), the police claimed there were no scratches on the door, and therefore no corroboratory evidence. In today's case, I just felt his tire rub the back of my shoe, but that made no mark on the tire or the shoe.

So there's no point in bothering to report this asshole to the police. The most it would result in is a jaywalking ticket for me. So instead I'm calling him out.


There are some who think that I deserve what I got (or could have gotten) because I was jaywalking. The City of Ottawa, for one, who had a Walk like your life depends on it campaign earlier this year.

The campaign's reasoning goes--applied to this situation--even though the taxi driver could have not accelerated in a high pedestrian traffic zone, and even though the driver could have not passed me so closely to endanger my life, the whole situation is really my fault. Even though a taxi driver is a professional driver who should be held to the highest standards


Pedestrians and cyclists probably account for a high proportion of taxi passengers. So why are they so antagonistic?

Two years ago yesterday there was a consultation on the City of Ottawa's Transportation Master Plan. Someone I know attended the focus group where Hanif Patni, president of Coventry Connections (Blue Line Taxi) claimed that the City shouldn't spend any money on cycling because cyclists only account for 1% of the population traffic (which is an inaccurate figure, especially if you look beyond the city-wide level to ward and neighbourhood cycling levels).

From the day I heard about that, I've used other taxi companies when I've needed a taxi.

After today's incident, I think I'll keep a running tally of specific taxi drivers (by car number) who do dangerous and reckless actions (as well as the good ones). Feel free to contribute your own in the comments. It would be neat to eventually make such a list into some sort of mobile phone app, so that when you want to take a taxi, you can see if they've endangered your friends and neighbours.

- RG>


Anonymous said...

One of the first blog posts I ever wrote after arriving in Ottawa was on how reckless and rude the cab drivers in Ottawa are. The first cab we ever took here on the way home from the airport a) had no idea where the Novotel was, b) veered into the other lane twice because he was talking on his cell phone and c) ran us onto the shoulder of the highway because he decided at the last minute he was turning off the wrong exit. I've had cab drivers not let me fill in my credit card slip myself and keep asking, "how much for tip?" When I started making sure I always have enough cash, many don't want to give me my change, claiming they have no change ($30 for a $23 ride??) Most of them have no clue where anything is and expect me to direct them. And they're always, always on their cell phones. I've stopped taking cabs here altogether unless I have absolutely no other choice. So, in summary: the transit system sucks, the cabs are dangerous, the cycling paths are a nice try, but sad, and most of greater Ottawa is very pedestrian unfriendly as reinforced by that stupid campaign that puts the onus on pedestrians to stay alive by ducking traffic instead of on the damn cars. So, if you're driving and see a pedestrian not huddled on the sidewalk feel free to mow him down, 'cuz it will be his own damn fault

Woodsy said...

Eeek! I'm glad you are OK RG. It seems that speeding up towards a pedestrian is a game enjoyed by many - not just taxis. I don't get it.

RealGrouchy said...

Come to think of it, I had a really reckless cab driver when I was in London, Ont, as well.

Tonight on the way home from the office I saw another. Cab #501 (something about those five hundreds, eh?) didn't want to wait behind the left-turning driver ahead at Somerset and Metcalfe, so climbed up onto the sidewalk to pass and continue straight.

- RG>

XUP said...

This reminds me of Jobthingy's blog about when her bus driver fell asleep while he was driving. Maybe we should start a web page or FB page and everyone can contribute their road menace stories about cabbies and bus drivers making sure to get the cab/bus number to accompany the story.???

Hannah said...

I've got some bad taxi stories for you. One of my friends was assaulted by a cab driver after she politely asked him to help her take her packages out of his trunk. She is disabled.

The other story is how a guy friend of mine was told to "fuck off" by a cab driver because he wanted to give a bunch of girls a ride and not him.


RealGrouchy said...

Ah, another Blue Line bunghole on the morning commute: Apparently the driver of taxi #250 doesn't realize that snow doesn't change the meaning of a bicycle's "I'm slowing down to pull into the store on the left side of the road" signal to a "please lay on your horn for five-mississippi seconds as you crawl by" signal.

No matter the weather, buddy, I'd be in front of you until I'm finished turning left.

- RG>

RealGrouchy said...

Credit where credit is due:

- As I was riding down Colonel By from the Rideau Centre to the Corktown Footbridge on Thursday midday, DJ's taxi #1027 (an accessble minivan) moved all the way across the centre line to pass, giving lots of clearance.

- On the way down Somerset/Wellington West toward lunch, Blue Line taxi #279 (I'm pretty sure that was the number) waited patiently behind me until there was enough room to pass me, instead of trying to squeeze between me and the oncoming traffic. (Proving that even Blue Line drivers aren't all bad!)

- RG>

Lili said...

Glad you had a good experience too RG.

Overall, I'm appalled at the state of cab drivers and their vehicles in the city of Ottawa. It's embarrasing the stench and disarray of some cabs, not to mention the inclination for them to talk when you're not interested in conversation.

Before I moved to Ottawa, a friend who always lived here, had kind of a cold attitude towards cabbies. It wasn't anything she said, she was severley minimalistic in her diaglogue with them. Now I know why. One cabbie asked me how much I paid for my house. Huh? One Lebanese cabbie told me he hated Canada because everyone works too hard. Um, what? And one guy actually took the wrong way to the airport and got us stuck in front of a parade. LOL

But you're right, there are good ones too. But I think since we're the capital, we better get our shit together and clean up the state of the cars AND the attitudes.
Merry Christmas!!

AStarr said...

This is a great piece. I was recently hit by a Blueline Taxi while on bike, and found this page while researching means to address the issue. I'm glad I've got some names, methods and experiences shared while reading this.

Anonymous said...

I had to take a cab (blueline) from the ottawa hospital after a surgery on my hand. I was in alot of pain. I asked the driver before I took the cab if he knew where i was goi ng and he said he did. I got in (it was dark and winter) and halfway there he took a 24 turn down a road and turned around, almost pretending he didnt know where he was going. This was all on a tab ticking. I get home and he charged me 56 dollars and i said WHAT! (it was a 15 mins drive)........he offered to open my house door as i could not with one hand. I found out that drive should have been 18 tops! ANd i feel he was trying to get sex or something this is what alot of us white woman have to go through now in the big cities...........its not safe anymore to take a cab. I also see them park illegal at rideau centre blocking the bus paths!!!!!!!!!!!!!