A few days ago, I nearly spit out my coffee when I read this: Toronto Pan American Games organizers are looking into commandeering lanes on major thoroughfares for athlete and official use only.
This story is ridiculous on so many levels, I don’t even know where to begin.
In a tough economy, we should be exploring ways to improve productivity, right? Torontonians already spend on average 80 minutes round trip to commute to and from work. The Games organizers want to make that longer, so that athletes can arrive to their events on time.
Athletes?! What about our workers who get paid to work, so that they can pay the taxes that will help fund these Games and maintain all the useless facilities afterwards?! Will the Games organizers cover off the losses incurred by employers? Of course not; they will be dealing with their own losses, which I am confident will be in the millions when all is said and done.
While I don’t have to commute to work anymore, I shudder at the memory of those days. Ninety minutes (on a good day) to get home from Mississauga into mid-town Toronto was hell on wheels. Even with my last job, while a normal drive to that office would have been 13 minutes, it usually took 30 minutes to get there and 40 minutes to get home. As it is, I find the High Occupancy Volume (HOV) lanes – more commonly known as carpool lanes anywhere else in the world – are a joke, and I’m resentful when I am stuck in traffic while a mere handful of cars are whizzing by me in the HOV lane. Shutting down a lane on the 404 or 401 for Pan Am athletes and officials is the equivalent of creating that perfect storm for extreme road anarchy. Don’t say I didn’t call this one.
Here’s another paradox: apparently, these Pan Am Games will be the first completely Green games, staged in a carbon-neutral way. They couldn’t possibly have accounted for the increased idling emissions of Torontonian commuters stuck in traffic, while the one or two buses of athletes sail by them in a reserved lane. In fact, the reason they’re probably fighting for these reserved lanes is so that they can hold true to their carbon-neutral commitment.
Oh, but wait. There’s actually more comedy to all of this: they also say there is a need to ticket drivers who dare to use these reserved lanes! They want to create havoc in a city that doesn’t even care about the Games, much less know that they’re coming to the city. Which organizers are mindful of, so instead, they dangle the Big O carrot at us: “This will really help prepare us for the Olympics!” Who said we wanted the Olympics here?! When the city bid for the Summer Games in 2008, all Torontonians did was grumble about how it would just create traffic hell and bankrupt the city.
Ah, poor Torontonians: never consulted and always stepped on. All their cries are falling on deaf ears; first, Rob Ford’s, and now Pan Am Games organizers.