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COLUMN: Local leadfoots lack respect for others, put lives at risk

'Here’s a simple message to these drivers: Wherever you’re going likely isn’t that important,' writer says
2021-10-26 DSC02170
Signs urging drivers to slow down have become a common sight throughout the region.

As we try to survive a major health pandemic, our region is experiencing a social pandemic of sorts.

Speeding and aggressive driving.

And it’s not just the sad increase in stunt driving incidents occurring on our area highways, it’s becoming a growing issue in our towns and rural villages.

Now, I’m going to sound like a grumpy old man, which some might say isn’t far off the mark, but too often cars travel at excessive speeds along our streets, avenues and boulevards.

Here’s a simple message to these drivers: Wherever you’re going likely isn’t that important.

As far as I can ascertain, none of these drivers have a bomb strapped to their vehicles where it will explode if they drop below a certain speed.

While part of the issue involves those who grew up here, there’s also the feeling it sometimes involves drivers who have moved here from larger centres where running traffic lights and beating the other guy to the next light might get you home a few minutes sooner.

I get it. I lived in Quebec City for a number of years where drivers have a reputation for driving fast.

But, in reality, they don’t drive faster than North Simcoe residents, same goes with Ottawa/Gatineau drivers where I never feared riding my bike along the road.

On the flipside, Moncton drivers are beyond courteous and will stop between intersections to allow pedestrians to cross the street.

Here, in Midland, however, drivers regularly ignore courtesy crosswalks, leaving parents with strollers and dogs on leashes to wait.

But, hey, that’s another story.

It’s very true that a speed limit is only a suggestion unless accompanied by enforcement.

And that’s definitely the case here.

We need police monitoring an already troubling situation.

And not by having an officer sit in his or her cruiser on a street in plain sight. But by actively issuing tickets to offenders driving aggressively, speeding and running red lights (hint: the light at King and Ellen seems to be a favourite).

And as someone who normally arrives ‘just on time’ to pretty much everything, I understand the urge to speed, but it’s just not worth it.

Demerit points, fines and rising insurance costs aren’t fun, but there’s a far greater toll that comes from speeding.

For those who feel the need to put the pedal to the metal because you desperately need to get to the store to buy batteries or some other consumable, imagine the incredible guilt you would feel if you took a life.

It’s definitely not worth it.

And as an avid cyclist, I’m amazed how close cars and pickup trucks sometimes come to me while I’m travelling along local streets.

I love the bike lanes on Yonge Street because it encourages traffic calming. The town would be wise to consider adopting the same measures on William and King.

And sadly, some drivers exhibit utter disdain and rudeness towards cyclists.

On a recent occasion while turning left into the rec. centre parking lot from King Street, I was verbally accosted while waiting for opposing traffic to pass by before proceeding. These kinds of drivers would have had to wait those five seconds or so had there been a car in front of them so why give cyclists an earful.

And here’s a helpful tip to those who feel the need to continue berating cyclists from behind the relative comfort of their steering wheels.

Don’t do it if you have a vanity licence plate!