Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Moe Banga and politicians in general.

I looked up who won yesterday in Ward 12. Turns out he was Moe Banga. I don't really know him, I don't live in Ward 12, but this election shows us some of the things that could be relevant.

First off, he was elected with being 1 out of the 32 candidates you could have picked from. He also won with just 2360 votes out of more than 13 thousand. I know that there are lots of political groups in the other levels of government, there is the traditional Conservative, NDP and Liberals vying for influence, a Green party is usually present these days, the Bloc Quebecois, there is a joke party or two, an animal group, a pirate party, a marijuana party, two communist parties, and more. But most of these aren't taken seriously except for the first 5. So it shows just how needed multiple vote voting systems are needed here. As in you can also pick your second and third choice. Maybe you like the Progressive Canadians first and would accept the Conservatives, maybe you have a first choice for the Liberals but are Ok with having an NDP government, etc. I like the single transferable style the best, video on that here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l8XOZJkozfI

Secondly, and shying away from specific political parties now, let's think about how cycling often plays a part in municipal politics these days here. First, people somehow despite the absence of a problem, got the 40 ave bike lanes removed. So that was a mistake. Councillors need better data to work with. 40 Ave is less busy than Rutherford road is at 119 St, yet nobody advocates for making Rutherford Rd there a 4 lane divided arterial.

Politicians are often quite worried about getting enough support for re-election, except in North Korea, where Kim Jong Un has won landslide victories in each election he runs in, "I have no idea why" (no accepted punctuation mark to indicate irony or sarcasm yet). And it is hard to convince people on either side to be good philosophers, to be grateful to the other when they can create points for where no counterargument can be found. Let's say that me and one of my viewers were talking about where to go for lunch. We could introduce points about cost, nutritional information, whether the companies are ethical, how far away it is, how long it will take to eat, whether it's a place that is free of mice or not, etc. But it shouldn't be a conversation where we get angry and irrational about it. Maybe I suggest one place and it meets all of our criteria and there isn't s a better place to go. Why not just tolerate other people's suggestions and go with it even if you didn't come up with the idea? This is why political parties can have some troubles if their policies prove to be bad ones but they still feel like they have to stick to it because of their leanings.

Back to Moe Banga. This morning I sent him an email. I asked a number of questions about the road and traffic. I asked him how he will do the various things, so as to remove the option of sidestepping it by saying that he won't. I also asked "specifically" how he would do them, so as to introduce the debate over making sure there will be enough funding for it (around 75 dollars a person in the city is a good figure, so close to 72 million per year, until we get to the point where we have the cycle tracks and cycle lanes and 30 km/h zones everywhere, 45 dollars/person is good afterwards. That is a far lower budget than most things in roadway department), making sure that we are counting everyone in terms of who the infrastructure must be designed for, making sure that roadway department is actually going to design it to a very high standard.

I also set specific standards for him. I imposed Vision 0 as a standard, and asked him how he will support and help to implement that and do whatever he can as a councillor to do it. I also gave him a challenge: An 8 year old child, alone, in the winter darkness, no helmet or high viz jacket, on any route he or she desires, and still he/she is a safe child. This is the ultimate test to me. If that small kid is safe, and also feels safe while doing it, and his/her parents feel like that is a safe thing to do, then Edmonton passes the test. Fail in any one of these regards and the whole challenge is lost. And finally, I said how are we going to have wide bike lanes or cycle tracks on every road in the built up area with a speed limit over 30 km/h or a volume over 2000 vehicles per day, or both, and 30 km/h zones everywhere else in the built up area? This is the standard the Dutch use as well.

I encourage you all to do the same. Impose the same standards on your politicians. Don't ask whether they will do it, but how. Vision 0, the 8 year old child test and the universality of the infrastructure. This makes them actually think. I'd like to say for once, but then again, I have the guys in the Netherlands who actually voted for this in municipal councils for this to disprove the idea that they don't think (not being serious here).

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