It’s an old-fashioned case of the left hand versus the right hand.
The left hand, appropriately enough, is Vancouver’s city hall. This current council, which has never encountered a progressive idea it wasn’t eager to adopt, is all fired up about establishing “ciclovia” around town.
No, it’s not an intestinal parasite; it’s a Latin American term that means closing the streets to cars and letting pedal and pedestrian power take over.
Vancouver has already acquired a reputation as Colombia North thanks to the thriving drug trade, so council figures we might as well be like Colombia on other fronts, and will impose ciclovia in four neighborhoods: Collingwood, Mount Pleasant, Gastown and Commercial Drive. For several Sundays this summer, no cars allowed.
Interesting that there will be no ciclovia in Point Grey or Kerrisdale, but council will seize one west-bound lane on the Burrard Bridge for cyclists, so ciclovia is creeping stealthily toward the West Side.
Great stuff for cyclists, although all that joy and rapture is tempered a bit by the activities of the right hand, a.k.a. Vancouver police.
While council is bending over side-saddle to make Vancouver more cycle-friendly (at the same time annoying motorists and tourist bus operators, but never mind), the VPD is busy harassing the same cyclists with “information tickets,” letting them know if they don’t have a little bell on their bicycles or dare to ride on the sidewalk, they face a $109 fine.
Ciclovia be damned! Just in time for bike month!
Turns out there’s a whole list of violations possible to commit on a bicycle. Did you know if you lift your butt off the seat to get up the hill, it’s a $109 fine? (And who came up with that number anyway?)
Oddly, the fine is only $29 if you’re not wearing a helmet. Apparently, it’s more important to have a little bell you can ring in protest when you get run over by some babe in a princess float (Hummer, Escalade) with a cellphone stuck to her ear, than it is to protect your head from smashing like an overripe watermelon.
If I didn’t know better, I’d suspect that city hall and the police are working in cahoots. First the city lures all the cyclists out of their dark corners into the sunlight, and then the VPD swoops down and charges them $109 each for not having a little bell — a creative way to increase revenue in a tough economy.
But, of course, that’s not possible. Who ever heard of cops and councillors working together on anything?