Here we go again... :disapp:
I think most citizens would favour the City of Edmonton trying to take action to make our streets safer. So, it's not necessarily a bad thing city officials are teaming up with police to clamp down on irresponsible motorcyclists.
In particular, they're targeting drivers of sports bikes, known colloquially as crotch rockets.
Civic politicians decided this week administration should work with Edmonton police to come up with concrete suggestions to get the province to change its Traffic Safety Act as it pertains to sport bikes.
It all came about because cops have raised the alarm about kids racing these blazingly fast machines on city streets.
A traffic cop told city council's community services committee that police have seen kids cruising in formation down Groat Road at up to 110 kmh. Other crotch-rocket riders have cranked their machines out to more than 200 kmh on Whitemud Drive.
Last year in Edmonton, police say there were nine motorcycle fatalities. "In previous years we've averaged between one and three fatalities," said city police spokesman Andy Weiler.
One of the key things being suggested to the council committee would be to require mandatory driver training prior to getting a licence to drive a bike.
It's also suggested rookie bikers might be limited to small machines of 500 cc or less.
None of us likes to see carnage in the streets, but I think the city should broaden the scope of this safety push.
If the city's so concerned about such issues, officials should be demanding the province require mandatory driver training for motorists too.
Let's be perfectly blunt.
The sport-bike drivers usually only wind up killing themselves, whereas clueless, untrained motorists kill themselves and others.
A provincial report released in September on traffic safety came up with few hard recommendations on trying to cut down on general roadway carnage.
It was chock full of bureaucratic bafflegab including recommendations like: "Establish a provincial mechanism to provide leadership, direction, co-ordination and evaluation of road safety programs in Alberta."
In the study, called the McDermid report, there was only a wishy-washy reference to tougher driver tests. Nothing concrete:
"Undertake a thorough review of current driver education and driver examinations in the province."
The province is now further studying those recommendations with a view toward fine-tuning its Traffic Safety Act. That could still be many months away. Study, study, study. It's the government way.
You don't need a PhD in physics to know we have a whole lot of motorists on our streets who don't have a clue how to drive.
We all have anecdotal evidence.
Just yesterday I was subjected to three motorists who either have no clue how to drive, or simply don't care about others on the road.
In the first case a taxi driver ran a stop sign in a parking lot and almost hit me.
Maybe some people don't think stop signs really count if they're in parking lots.
Minutes later, I was driving down a major street when a fellow motorist cruised out from a side road without even looking. I narrowly missed slamming into him.
A couple of hours after that, I was waiting to turn at a red light behind a motorist who was chatting on a cellphone. When the green flashing arrow kicked in, he was too busy chatting to actually make the turn, so I was stuck there until the next green flashing arrow.
In my view, the best way to stop carnage on the streets - whether it be from motorists or bikers - is to make sure they know how to drive properly in the first place.
Too many people in Alberta were taught to drive by their parents, then simply went in and did a rudimentary road test. That test places more emphasis on parallel parking than, say, being able to steer out of a high-speed skid.
That's the problem that needs to be addressed in any changes to the Traffic Safety Act.
We need better-trained drivers and tougher testing for motorists and bikers.
And maybe we might not even have to use a hammer on the testing side. Maybe we don't need a law, per se, requiring driver training before someone is licensed.
Why not give those who take training some sort of tax benefit - perhaps an annual break on the cost of vehicle registration?
Preventing traffic deaths isn't rocket science. Let's get on with it.