Of Elections and Bike Lanes in Calgary   4 comments

In case you hadn’t heard,Best-Quotes-33464-statusmind.com the Alberta election (which I wrote about in my last post) was held and much to everyone’s surprise – delight or dismay, depending on what side of the political spectrum you are on – the left-leaning NDP won a whopping majority, thus ending some 43 years of uninterrupted rule by the province’s right-leaning Progressive Conservative Party.

For the record, my candidate of choice, Terry Rock, who was running for the PCs, didn’t fair so well. My riding of Calgary Buffalo went to a candidate for the NDP whom I never saw during the election, still haven’t seen, wouldn’t know if she walked up to me and hit me over the head with a dead fish, but that’s politics for you. I wish her and our new premier Rachel Notley the best of luck.

Those of you who know me will recognize that the NDP come far closer to my own political views than the other parties, although for all that I had somehow made my peace with the PC regime and had learned to live with the status quo. Clearly, though, by anyone’s standards, it was time for a change, and we got it, big time.

For many, this shift from right to left was seen as a seismic event. I have to say that I was frankly amazed at the passionate responses to the election from friends, as seen on Facebook, from both sides.

When we play sports, or engage in competition of any kind, we are taught – or at least we used to be taught – to be gracious in both victory and defeat. There was little grace that I saw following this election. I saw gloating from the left, sulking from the right, the whole thing made me aware once again of just how entrenched we have all become in our own beliefs, and how intolerant we have become to the beliefs of others.

In fact, what was once upon a time in the fairy tale past a measured dialogue that is surely the cornerstone of democracy, now sounds something like this:

I’m right. You’re wrong. Shut the fuck up.

Do you remember Voltaire? No? Well, I’m not surprised. It was he who said, as seen above, I might disagree with your opinion, but I am willing to give my life for your right to express it.

Well friends, we seem to be a long ways away from such lofty tolerance. That seems to be what we are losing these days, by the bucketful: tolerance. I know this. I’m a smoker. Believe me, I know.

If the great bastion of conservatism in Canada has fallen (remember, Alberta is sometimes referred to a “Texas North,”) an even greater force of evil (in some people’s minds) has insinuated itself into the heart of Calgary: bicycle lanes. Or as they are properly known as, the City of Calgary Cycle Path Network.

These bike lanes that have taken away precious lanes for car traffic, and precious parking spots in front of businesses along various streets (including 12th Avenue, where I live) have added insult to injury in the minds of many of our citizens, and if anything I have probably heard more outrage and frustration directed at them, and cyclists in general, than at the dreaded NDP government.

It’s so bad that as a cyclist, I don’t even love them. Now when I leave my apartment, I am afraid that whenever I’m outside of the official bike lane, which is actually on the other side of the street from me, I will be fair game, fairer than ever, to all the wannabe rodeo kings in their penis-extending souped-up pickup trucks (most of which show no evidence of ever having driven on anything but pavement, but I digress).

I mean, they were bad enough before we pissed them off . . . Who knows where all this will lead?

These two radical leftist events – the election of a socialist government and the sudden appearance of bike lanes – came together perfectly in a letter I saw written to the Calgary Sun recently. (Or was it the Herald? Hard to tell them apart any more.)

In a wonderful blazing fusion of intolerance and ignorance, one reader complained bitterly about the bike lanes – which are obviously a civic undertaking, not provincial, set in motion years before this election was held – ending his diatribe with a little phrase I’m sure we have not heard for the last time in these parts: I blame it on the socialists.

Seems we live in interesting times.

Thanks for reading!

This song by Paul Brandt would seem to beg the question, now that we have an NDP government here, will our rednecks now be properly referred to as orangenecks? Time will tell . . .

 

 

 

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4 responses to “Of Elections and Bike Lanes in Calgary

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  1. Thoughtful commentary as usual Eugene. One can’t help wonder how the winds of change will affect the upcoming federal election. I recall when the CBC failed to renew the rights for HNIC song (Hockey night in Canada). It was the most pissed off I have ever seen my fellow Canadians, I actually thought a revolution might happen, but apathy won in the end. The bike lanes will be a minor inconvenience and hopefully accepted by most people when they realize that keeping bikes and vehicles apart actually benefits both. Yes, we are an odd lot, us Canadians.Cheers man.

  2. as always a good read, love the Voltaire quote, thanks. Vancouver suffered the same uproar over the appearance of bike lanes in the city. All the same screaming re: loss of parking, car lanes, and the wasted money to build them. There are still many here who would rip them up if they could. As a regular biker myself though, I love them, and the great thing is the size of the concrete barriers between the bike lanes and traffic. They can try and ram us, but damage will be done. Off for a bike ride now, and I love the ability to travel downtown and worry only about another bike, not a 5 ton truck.

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