Thursday, July 21, 2011

Sleeping with the ennemy

On July 15th, a dude called Christian Déjoie was brave enough to speak up (and lucky enough to be granted a column) in La Presse about one of the most terrifying road experiences a Montreal cyclist could ever face: the dreaded encounter with a STM bus driver. The STM is Montreal's public transportation service. These guys are notorious bicycle haters and they seem to derive no greater pleasure than harassing cyclists on the road.

Everything Christian Déjoie describes in his piece, I have experienced... from the inside, i.e. while riding the bus. Well, yes, because it sometimes happens that I ride the bus. And I have seen some of these psychopaths in action, maneuvering purposefully to squeeze a cyclist against the curb by accelerating, waving on the left and then closing the angle on the right, some even slamming the brakes. To the point that once, an outcry erupted at the front of the bus with random normal citizens protesting this behaviour. The smug asshole answered with a pervert smile: «Inquietez-vous pas, il va être correct!», i.e. «Don't worry, he's gonna be fine!», as in «Don't worry folks, I am a professional (harasser) I do this all the time, so far they (my victims) have all survived!!».

Well, faut croire que sometimes they don't. The STM is a notorious contributor to the yearly cyclists massacre.
Actually, it looks like the STM is determined to become Montreal cycling community's worst enemy:

1. They have historically opposed any type of cycling accommodations, starting with access to the metro. There was a time when you could bring in ladders, ironing boards etc. but no bicycles ("Deux roues un avenir", Claire Morissette, p.194). Finally, access was granted but limited to impractical hours, i.e. 10 am to 3 pm and after 7 pm, i.e. forget about it. How complicated is it to reserve an entire car for cyclists?

2. They oppose improvement and innovation. They are currently fighting against bicycle racks. Watch this:

Bicycle racks litterally had to be shoved up their asses as the slugs found them to be dangerous. You heard it: everywhere else in the world, they work fine, but in Montreal, they will be dangerous. Of course, given the way these guys behave on the road, no surprise if carnage increases. 
Hey, maybe they can use bicycle racks to mow down even more cyclists? More effective than the squeezing technique!!!

3. They oppose bicycle lanes. They fought tooth and nail against the St Urbain bike lane.

Every minor improvement is a struggle and has to be forced down their throats. Their main argument is usually, whatever is being proposed is dangerous and it will force them to slow down. Big freaking deal!

Systematically, Montreal cyclists are surprised, hurt and feel betrayed.
Why is any of it such a shocker? After all, most of these STM guys are not Montrealers at all : they live in the suburbs (Laval, Longueuil, Repentigny etc.) and like most proud 450s, probably hate Montreal and everything typical about it with a pathologically consuming passion. Proof is, during winter storms, the main reason for the public transportation network stalemate is not so much the snow in itself (i.e. blocking the roads) but the fact that bus and metro operators are themselves stuck in traffic, in snowbanks, in their own driveways, just like every motorist out there!
How can anyone expect a public transportation service to run properly in a city of which most operators live in other cities?

Why don't more Montreal cyclists realise any of this and stay damn well away from bus drivers?
Because we are d'indécrottables romantiques. True.

Granted, Yves Montand is French, and so are those images. But you, know, France/Quebec, Quebec/France... Kif-kif bourricot!!
Anyhow, Montreal cyclists are total romantics. We have this bubble gum idea of Public Service and Public Transportation. We, deep inside our collective progressive and liberal hearts, firmly believe in it. We support it. We defend it. We are its most faithful users comes winter. We analyse it all the time. We blog about it (ahem). We're armchair and desktop urban planning experts. 
And in that cotton candy utopian mental world of ours, in Montreal cyclists and public transportation lovingly go hand in hand, riding poetically into the sunset.

Bizous bizous les Bisounours!


Now, back in the reality of the real world, going to the police with your harassment story is a complete waste of time. Just like sexual discrimination or racial discrimination, unless you have (credible i.e. non-cyclists) witnesses and hard proof, you're doomed. It's your word against theirs. And you're the irresponsible hippy and their are the respectable public servant who would never lie. They've got the moral and social status immunity. And cops would never dream of going after fellow public servants.

Even those organised enough to have a camera on them recording the whole scene were not able to get the police to move their asses.

As in this one:

Straightforward right? License plate in plain view, aggression on video, what else do you need?

"Although the registered keeper of the car was easily traceable it seems that on the day in question the vehicle was left unlocked with the keys in the ignition, only for it to be taken without consent but somehow later returned to the owner by person or persons unknown.
Could happen I suppose, after all there are some very considerate, violently thuggish car thieves out there who sometimes repent and, racked with guilt, simply return the stolen vehicle to its rightful owner completely undamaged."

Realistic and totally believable right? Turns out that "before this clip the driver had forced one of the riders off the road while going through a speed restriction, had stopped and got out to verbally abuse the rider, had got back in and driven off, clipping the handlebar of this cyclist with his wing mirror."

Criminal right? Should get the police all worked up right? The sandwich is in front of their mouth, all they need to do is open their traps and chew it off right?
Well no, that's still too hard. 
Bottom line, the criminal ended up turning himself in, so I guess the corrupted British police, had no choice but to, reluctantly, finally handle that case...

Back in Montreal, were our very own cowboys think nothing of shooting randomly left and right, and killing an innocent citizen, all of that to apprehend some mentally disturbed homeless holding a knife.

How do you want these guys, Christian, to take our complaints seriously?


UPDATE: "Me too I cycle!" one of the STM assholes speaks up

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