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Braking the habit 

Cars are a drug and council is pushing, says Lezlie Lowe.

Dear single-occupant commuters, I regret to inform you that your time here is up. Actually, scratch that. I have no regrets. Go away. Get moving. And don’t make it any more difficult than it needs to be—carry on with your death throes and do hurry up.

Get your arse on the bus, or on the seat next to three or more car-poolers, or move close enough to work that you can walk. You’ve got to let go of your dependence on the wasteful, air polluting convenience of driving alone in your car to work day after day after day.

Get a skateboard. Buy a bus pass. A bike! How about a bike? I see that sneakers are on sale this week. How about a nice scooter? A unicycle?

Look, I’m not unsympathetic to your addiction. I know how easy it is, how much less thinking it takes to just turn the key and go. I know how much time it can save and how much warmer it is than waiting for the bus. I know how amazing it is to take advantage of the ample free parking on residential streets west of Gottingen when you work downtown.

But you’re hitting rock bottom.

You’re clogging up the streets and you’re stinking up the air. You’re spewing about 300 pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere for every tank of gas you burn. You don’t even have the decency to turn off your engine at stop lights. Let’s face it. You don’t care.

And why should you? With your windows up and the radio cranked, the voices of reason that oppose you turn to mere mewling cries.

Plus, you’ve got that jolly slap-on-the-back support from HRM council.

Council can’t get behind the transit fixes that would help wean you off your solo-commuting dependence.

Metro Transit buses don’t run often enough. They don’t get to where they’re going directly enough. HRM bike lanes are like the fingers on your right hand. (I don’t mean close by and easy to use. I mean there are literally five of them.) There’s no commuter rail onto the peninsula and no ferry from Bedford.

You’re the one with the dependence, but HRM council is your facilitator. And its biggest, ballsiest move to keep you addicted to your car is last week’s decision to go ahead with widening Chebucto Road to install a reversing third lane.

The 15 councillors that voted to widen Chebucto Road aren’t your friends. They’re just as lazy and short-sighted as you. They passed a motion making it easier for you to abuse yourself, the environment and the rest of us. And worst of all, they did it to make it easy on themselves: Widening a road is a lot simpler than designing and implementing a better transit system. 

It’s brute force—the additional lane will smash down at least two houses—over the number crunching it would take to find the funds to support, say, commuter rail from Bedford. Or maybe it’s just beyond the majority of council to come up with a suitably eloquent and convincing defence of the environment—one that would have assuaged the anger of the 60,000 drivers who carbon-belch their way through the Armdale Rotary every day.

But you can’t blame council alone. Only you can ditch your car. And by choice or by force, eventually you will. HRM council might not realize it, but the rest of the world is changing. Solo commuter, you are a dinosaur. Now evolve or get out of the way.

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