The Green Bin Program - Simple Works

This is a follow-up to Why Sabotage The Green Bin Program.

Today was Green Bin Day and even though I untaped the newspaper lining it stayed in the bin so I don't have to reline it. I just retaped the top and it should be good for another two weeks. Eventually I will have to dump the lining in the bin and start over but it looks like I get at least one month per 5 minutes spent lining the bin.

Seems pretty simple to me. No need for expensive and wasteful bin liners.


Local 6500 - Six Months Stronger

We'll only get through this in solidarity. I want to make this crystal clear that I stand with you in this dispute. You are my citizens and I stand with you, my citizens, shoulder to shoulder in this struggle.

John Rodriguez, Mayor, Greater City of Sudbury

Fair Deal Now
Support Local 6500 Sudbury


Why I Don't Capitalize god

Well it all goes back to being taught the rule that all references to god are capitalized no matter what, including, he, him, etc., apparently just because, well because god is god. As a non-believer that did not sit well with me so I stopped capitalizing god completely. Of course if that rule did not exist god would still be capitalized according to the rule that you capitalize all proper nouns including the names of fictitious entities like god. But I still can't bring myself to do it.


The People Get It - Harper Hates Democracy

Well perhaps this is a bit of an overstatement. Perhaps it's more that he just finds it an annoying irritant and inconvenience that prevents him from acting as Supreme Exalted Ruler.

The Tories might not get it, but the people do, as evidenced by their reactions both in cyberspace and in public spaces, not to mention polling results.

Well the people may not understand all the intricacies of Parliamentary procedure and the difference between prorogation and the House simply not sitting they finally have clued into what is behind it all - behind Harper's prorogation to avoid confidence motions and his prorogation to avoid being held accountable for his government's policy on torture and all his actions since the election.

Stephen Harper has no respect for the House of Commons, no respect for Parliament and no respect for democracy. No wonder he has no comprehension of the fact that a minority government has to earn the confidence of the House of Commons in order to govern legitimately.

No one elected him dictator. He has no right to bully the majority of the House of Commons into supporting him.

Indeed it is the majority of the House of Commons that has the right, and responsibility, to govern. Now if only they would act accordingly. The people are ready for democracy.


Thank You David Warren

I was beginning to worry about the Pope but you have assured me that the Pope has not gone over to the dark side - he has not forsaken god and embraced science nor has he accepted the evil that is sexual equality. Nor should I worry that the Pope thinks governments have an environmental responsibility because that would be "socialist materialism" and a "statist solution", which as you state, the Pope rejects.

I am not sure what "statist solutions" are but I can only assume that they are government actions like holding child molesters accountable and punishing them for their sins crimes. After all who are we to judge - that is for god to do after they die. Oh, but I forgot, if they accept Jesus as their saviour all is forgiven after they die.

But then again, this all assumes that you, David Warren, have a clue and some sense of reality outside of your own sheltered extreme right wing existence.


Prorogation - The Best Thing Stephen Harper Ever Did for Canadian Democracy

If you believe that Stephen Harper's prorogations are part of the normal Parliamentary process then read this.

If you believe nobody cares then go here (over 200,000 members and counting).

So why is prorogation the best thing Stephen Harper ever did for Canadian democracy.

Because he may have finally awakened the Canadian public to the role of Parliament and the fact that our Parliamentary democracy is based on the concept of Parliamentary supremacy and the requirement for the government to have the support and confidence of the House of Commons to govern legitimately.

Pierre Trudeau is reported (July 25, 1969) to have said that Members of Parliament are nobodies when they are off Parliament Hill. Stephen Harper seems to believe that they are nobodies when they are sitting in the House of Commons.

In December 2008 Stephen Harper suspended Canadian democracy and through a clever PR campaign managed to convince the Canadian people that a government led by the leader of the party with the most seats (but a minority of seats) in the House was more democratic than a party led by a leader who had the support and confidence of a majority of Members of the House of Commons. It was a situation that left those of us that understood how Parliamentary democracy works shaking our heads.

Since then Stephen Harper has continued to treat Parliament as if it does not matter and with his latest attack on Parliamentary democracy the people have finally seen the light.

Let us step back a bit and talk about the concept of prorogation. There is nothing wrong with prorogation in itself, the problem is how Stephen Harper (with the collusion of the Governor General) is using it. Saying the Liberals prorogued in the past is meaningless. Prorogation is a normal part of the Parliamentary process.

The normal scenario is that a government is elected. They set forward their program in a Throne Speech. the House of Commons passes most of their legislative program over a period of 12-24 months. Historically the length of time required has increased from sessions around a year in length to sessions normally about eighteen months to two years in some cases. It really depends on how well a government can manage it's legislative program. The House of Commons is then prorogued and a new session starts with a new Throne Speech within days.

Prorogation has nothing to do with the House not sitting. The House routinely recesses for over two months during the summer but they remain in session so they can easily be recalled to deal with emergencies and matters of public interest. Indeed often a government finishes its legislative program at the summer break, but they do not prorogue, they return for a day in September or October and prorogue and the new session starts within days.

That is because, up until Stephen Harper (with one exception and he was forced to resign when Parliament resumed), all governments understood that prorogation was not intended to be used to shut down Parliament. That is because, up until Stephen Harper, Canadian governments understood and respected the concept of Parliamentary supremacy. They actually understood and respected the system of Parliamentary government.

Unfortunately, under the current government, we have a Prime Minister, and may I add a Queen's Representative, who do not respect the principle that when there is a conflict between the House of Commons and the Prime Minister, the House of Commons must prevail. Stephen Harper thinks that when that happens Parliament should be shut down.

Fortunately, the people have finally seen the light and my hope is that Stephen Harper's attempt to take their democracy away from them will get them thinking more about the Canadian democratic process.

For Parliamentary democracy to be truly democratic the House of Commons should reflect how Canadians voted. While there are many factors that go into how people vote, including the individual candidates qualifications, abilities and values, the biggest factors are the policies, programs and philosophies of the parties running in the election. The representation in the House of Commons should reflect these factors. For Parliament to be truly democratic the percentage of seats each party receives should reflect the number of votes each party receives, normally referred to as the popular vote.

Our current single member constituency "first past the post" system does not do this.

However there is a system called Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) that allows voters to not only vote for the local Member of Parliament of their choice but also elect a House of Commons whose membership reflects the percentage of votes each party receives in the election.

Indeed, the main criticism of MMP is that we will not get majority governments unless the voters give one party a majority of the votes. That is right, under MMP if voters vote for a minority or coalition government they will get a minority or coalition government. That is the main criticism of MMP - that voters will get what they vote for. That seems to be a rather strange criticism of a democratic process.

It is time to shut down Stephen Harper and it is time to reform our electoral process. It is time for the people to speak.


Why Sabotage The Green Bin Program

It is clear to me that there are some people that would like to sabotage Ottawa's Green Bin program and I do not understand why. Unfortunately Ottawa City Council has seemed to be an ally, if an unwitting one, to those that would seek to see the program fail.

Ottawa City Council has played into the hands of those that would love to see the program fail - the haters. The worse thing that the City has done was to help perpetrate they myth that the program will cost the city money rather than save money. They did this by proposing to pay for it with a special levy on residential taxes only, and by continuing to emphasize the direct costs of the program without any reference to the savings from the program.

Of course the direct costs are easy to estimate. On the other hand, estimating the costs of finding new landfill sites, if any are available, or alternatively the costs of shipping our garbage who knows where for an indefinite period of time are unknown, but certainly greater than the costs of diverting that garbage into the Green Bin composting program.

But what were taxpayers told. We were told that this is a new program that is going to cost us money. It is as if we were not previously paying to dispose of the garbage that will be diverted to the Green Bin program.

While the City has conducted an extensive public relations campaign they have not addressed directly the myths perpetrated by the haters.

For instance, the false concerns raised about vermin or maggots being attracted to the compost in the bins, ignoring the fact that we have always been putting our organic kitchen garbage out for collection in bins, only before we called them garbage cans. Nothing has changed except that the new Green Bins have a fairly secure locking device, better than most garbage cans.

The city also played into the hands of the haters by continuing weekly garbage collection. With recycling and composting, the only things that are left in the garbage are non-recyclable excess packaging and non-repairable broken household appliances and such - nothing that cannot keep for two weeks. It would make much more sense to collect those things every two weeks and the organic compost weekly. But instead, the city listened to the irrational arguments of the haters.

The city, and other well meaning people, including media fluff writers, have helped sabotage the program by making it seem much more complicated than it needs to be with all their helpful hints about freezing the waste (where was that idea when we were putting it in garbage cans) and buying all sorts of special bags to hold it.

First of all, buying special bags for the compost goes against the whole principle of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. We want to first reduce what we consume - how does buying more stuff help do that.

It does not have to be complicated. For the first few weeks I simply put the kitchen waste in a plastic kitchen container (I used my existing compost pail but the one provided with the Green bin would work fine) and periodically dumped it into the Green Bin in the garage. Every couple of days I used a broom handle to loosen up the compost in the bin and when it came time for pickup there was no problem.

Since then I have refined my methodology, picking up the hint to use old newspapers to line the bin. I put newspapers along the bottom and up the sides a bit and then all along the sides from the top to cover the inside completely. I did have to slightly compromise my "not buy anything new" policy by using a very small amount of masking tape to help hold the newspaper to the sides of the bin at the top. That was a ten minute job the first time as I figured out the methodology and likely five minutes each time from now on.

Simple works. All it takes is caring and a few minutes of time to help save the city, taxpayers, and ultimately yourself money and to reduce the amount of garbage going into landfill and help the planet.

If you're not part of the solution you're part of the problem.


Cycling and Safety in Ottawa

This is being submitted to the City of Ottawa Roads and Cycling Advisory Committee and to selected city councillors.

I am primarily a recreational cyclist, not a commuter. I love riding the trails on my mountain bike but most of my kilometres are put on my hybrid on the paved and gravel pathways, though I do ride the roads on occasion and am just starting to ride in the winter.

Ottawa Police Service's Inappropriate Response to Cycling Injuries Caused by Motorists

This post/submission is inspired by this cycling season's large number of injuries and deaths to cyclists at the hands of motorists and the Ottawa Police Service's inappropriate response of targeting motorists and cyclists equally. A proportionate response is not appropriate because the impact and the risks are not proportionate. Motorists kill cyclists with their vehicles. Cyclists don't kill anyone with their vehicles, and are only a risk of minor injuries to pedestrians in the overwhelming number of situations. Yes, cyclists should obey the rules of the road, and I will deal with that, but motorists are the real threat of injury and death and that is where the bulk of resources should be targeted. Now that I have stated the obvious let us move on.

The police need to move aggressively against reckless and impaired drivers because they are a real threat to everyone on the road, but particularly to cyclists who are not protected by a metal box. Crashing into another vehicle can cause damage, crashing into a cyclist can kill them. While the threat from bad and aggressive drivers is the most obvious, the biggest threat to cyclists is from otherwise good drivers who are unaware of cyclists and the potential threat motorists pose to them.

Cyclists are on the roads, and they have a right to be on the roads. The most important thing that we can do to protect them is to make drivers aware of this, so they are thinking of cyclists whenever they are driving and watching for them. And cyclists need to follow the rules of the road and be where they are supposed to be.

The City of Ottawa website lists some of these rules. Perhaps the most important is "Never compromise your safety for the convenience of a motorist".

More information on cycling in Ottawa is available on the City of Ottawa Website Cycling Page, including the City of Ottawa Cycling Map.

I have a rule for motorists - do not give up your right-of-way (unless you need to avoid an accident). The rules are there so everybody knows what to expect from everyone else. If you give up your right of way to me, with a gesture or whatever, I may be aware but other drivers might be confused. I am happy to wait my turn.

The key thing is awareness of other road users, where they are and what they are going to do. The rules of the road exist so all road users know what to expect, that is why it is so important that everyone follows them.

Stop Signs as Yield Signs For Cyclists - The Idaho Experience

There are already some differences in how the Highway Traffic Act applies to motor vehicles and bicycles, such as the requirement that bicyclists stay to the right and allow motor vehicles to pass, unless it is dangerous to do so. I would like to suggest another difference be implemented and that is the Idaho practice of allowing bicyclists to treat stop signs as yield signs.

The main difference between a bicycle and a motor vehicle is that a bicycle is human powered - having to stop means losing momentum and having to rebuild it again when starting up. This can be particularly frustrating on a hill. The other big difference of course is that a bicyclists is not in a metal cage and thus has a much clearer view all around him than someone in a car. And the biggest difference is that a bicycle is much less dangerous than an automobile.

Experience indicates that allowing bicyclists to treat stop signs as yield signs is safe. As cyclist are going slower to start off with they can easily slow down and check for oncoming traffic without coming to a full stop. The complete stop is what causes the most significant momentum problem. Slowing down enough to check for oncoming traffic allows one to continue, if safe, while conserving considerable human energy.

In the long term this would require the city, along with other cites, to lobby the provincial government to change the law. But in the meantime the police could adopt a policy of only charging cyclists who go through stop signs if they do so in a dangerous manner. It is not unusual for police to prioritize their enforcement policies.

This would also require a public education policy so that cyclists would know what is expected of them, and motorists would understand the reasoning behind the policy. Cyclists at the moment realize they could be charged no matter what speed they go through a stop sign. I would expect this new approach would lead to many cyclists being more cautious at stop signs than they now are.

The Idaho legislation states:


49-720. STOPPING -- TURN AND STOP SIGNALS. (1) A person operating a bicycle or human-powered vehicle approaching a stop sign shall slow down and, if required for safety, stop before entering the intersection. After slowing to a reasonable speed or stopping, the person shall yield the right-of-way to any vehicle in the intersection or approaching on another highway so closely as to constitute an immediate hazard during the time the person is moving across or within the intersection or junction of highways, except that a person after slowing to a reasonable speed and yielding the right-of-way if required, may cautiously make a turn or proceed through the intersection without stopping.

Source: Idaho Statutes
More information on the Idaho legislation an experience can be found here:

Toronto Star article

Bicycling blog

Bicycle law blog

Bicycle Civil Liberties Union

Clarifying the Rules Regarding Pedestrian Crosswalks

The Highway Traffic Act includes the following provisions:
1. (1) In this Act,
“pedestrian crossover” means any portion of a roadway, designated by by-law of a municipality, at an intersection or elsewhere, distinctly indicated for pedestrian crossing by signs on the highway and lines or other markings on the surface of the roadway as prescribed by the regulations;

Riding in pedestrian crossover prohibited
140.(6) No person shall ride a bicycle across a roadway within a pedestrian crossover. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s.140 (6).

Riding in crosswalks prohibited
144.(29) No person shall ride a bicycle across a roadway within or along a crosswalk at an intersection or at a location other than an intersection which location is controlled by a traffic control signal system. R.S.O. 1990, c H.8, s.144 (29).
I think it makes good sense not to allow cyclists to ride their bikes on crosswalks along sidewalks. Cyclists should not be riding on the sidewalk so they should not be riding on crosswalks.

However there is one situation where the wording of the law may create ambiguity, I am talking about road crossings where shared use paths intersect with roadways. Since the pathway is shared all the way up to the roadway, there is no reason it cannot be shared across the roadway with cyclists remaining on their bikes when crossing the road.

The solution is to simply have the city clarify it's documentation and signage to make clear that shared use pathway crossings are not considered pedestrian crossovers or crosswalks.

Rules of The Shared Pathway - To Ring or Not Ring Your Bell

As we discuss the rules of the road let's look at the rules or conventions of the shared pathway. While I have my understanding of them, it is clear that there is no common understanding amongst pedestrians and cyclists.

My understanding is that all users of a shared pathway should keep to the right, allowing room for both pedestrian and bicycle traffic to move in both directions. Since pedestrians walk on the pathway, not alongside it, they should not be walking in the opposite direction of the pathway traffic. They also should not take up both sides of the pathway, though I am willing to be lenient in this regard as long as they move over for oncoming traffic or traffic that wishes to pass them, whether it be cyclists or joggers.

For that reason pathway users, whether pedestrians or cyclists should always be aware of their surroundings. Please leave the headphones at home when out in traffic, whether on the roads or the shared pathways. You do not have to always be plugged in and disconnected from your surroundings. Sometimes I think the Walkman and the IPod are the most evil and dangerous inventions of mankind.

Let me say this to the pedestrians on the pathway. Now that you are aware of your surroundings and I am approaching you, it is a simple matter to ring my bell to alert you of my presence. It would be a simple decision if I could predict your reaction but I cannot. I know what my purpose is - not to tell you to get off the path, but simply to alert you of my presence and to allow groups of pedestrians to move into single file on the right. However all to often the response is for pedestrians in groups to scatter all over the path or for those walking along the right to move over to the left and into my path. It would make both our lives much easier and safer if upon hearing my bell, you just glanced my way to acknowledge my presence and stayed or moved over to the right in single file to allow me to safely pass. In exchange I will slow down and give you sufficient time to do this.

Life on the shared paths would be much simpler and safer if this approach was adopted as the convention by all pathway users, and perhaps made part of a public education campaign.

Bike Lanes - What Are They

One would think that determining this would be pretty simple.

As far as bike lanes are concerned it was always my assumption that the lines along the roadway about a metre from the curb indicated a bike lane. However, I discovered a couple of problems with that.

The first is that those lines appear on many streets where the City of Ottawa cycling map does not indicate a bike lane exists. Also, in many cases those lines appear along roadways where parking is allowed making the apparent bike lane meaningless because it is dangerous to be moving in and out of the roadway between parked cars.

Something more problematic is the City of Ottawa ad stating that cyclists should ride a meter out from the curb and and the following from the city of Ottawa website which states: "Cyclists generally ride in the right-most through lane, about one metre from the curb or parked cars." The apparent bike lane markings are about a metre from the roadway so if cyclists followed the City's advice they would be riding alongside the apparent bike lane rather than in it, causing motorists to be upset that the cyclist are not riding in what they think is the bike lane, and potentially causing confusion for everyone.

We really need some clarification here.

Shared Pathways - What Are They

You would also think that determining this would be pretty simple. My basic rule has always been that if it is cement it is a sidewalk and if it is asphalt that it is a pathway. But again, looking at the City of Ottawa cycling map, many asphalt pathways are not shown. For example the pathway along Carling Avenue from Holly Acres Road to Moodie Drive is officially designated as a pathway while the pathway along Eagleson Road from Cadence Gate to Hazeldean Road is not, even though they have similar characteristics. Both run along major roadways where many cyclists would be leery of riding on the road and both provide connections between neighbourhoods as well as connections between other pathways.

Indeed, the Eagleson Road pathway connects Bridlewood to the Hazeldean Mall and the Hazeldean community as well as to pathways that connect through Katimavik to Beaverbrook. I would strongly recommend that this route be officially designated as a shared pathway.

For purposes of clarity I would also suggest that all asphalt paved pathways be so designated. If the city wants something to be a sidewalk they should build a proper cement sidewalk.

The Big Issue - Separating Bicycles and Automobiles

This past fall a friend of ours was involved in a vehicular collision when the approaching vehicle veered into his lane. Luckily he survived, though with significant injuries. The people in the other car were killed. He survived because his vehicle was larger and provided better protection. In a collision between a bicycle and a vehicle the cyclist will always be the one to suffer greater injuries or death.

Though I have always tried to avoid riding on the road I have always felt safe when doing so. As long as I obeyed the rules of the road and acted as a vehicle I expected other vehicles to do likewise. Even while driving down the bicycle lane along Hunt Club Road with heavy traffic whizzing by me I felt safe because I had my own designated space. It never really occurred to me that a driver would deliberately drive into the bike lane and maim or possibly kill me. Now it does because we know that that happens way too often.

The only real solution that treats cyclist lives as seriously as motorists lives is to adopt the European approach and separate cyclists from motor vehicles.

I would like to see Ottawa adopt it's own version of this approach built on the existing network of pathways. While dedicated bike paths would be nice to have and would allow for a faster flow of cycling traffic the shared pathways we have now work quite well.

However nothing should prevent cyclists who wish to from continuing to share the road with vehicles.

That being said, providing an alternative to riding on the roads has the potential to substantially increase the number of recreational cyclists and the number of cyclists who commute regularly for work, shopping and other tasks beyond recreational cycling.

So we start by building on the existing pathway network to extend it to a true network that provides connections between all Ottawa communities and neighbourhoods, as well as connecting to the NCC recreational pathway system. Preferably this would be a distinct network separate from the roadway system. Where the network did run parallel to roadways there should be physical barriers or barriers of significant space between bicycles and motor vehicles. The network should never have bicycles and motor vehicles sharing busy roadways only separated by lines on the road.

Of course we cannot have a separate system from door to door. The system would be between neighbourhoods. Cyclists would have to share less busy neighbourhood streets with motor vehicles. In the busy downtown core we should follow the European practice of having separate bike lanes on the sidewalks, rather than the roadways.

The system should be an all-season system. I have recently started winter cycling for recreational purposes and find that more often than not I have to use the roads, as the pathways are usually not cleared - some are not cleared for the whole winter. In my case, as a recreational cyclist, I can easily stick to the local arterial roads that are kept quite clear but commuters do not have a choice of routes. With no reliable pathway system in the winter they have to share the busy roads with motorists when it is the most dangerous.

If we want to encourage more environmentally friendly commuting we need to make a paradigm shift in our snow clearing priorities. I would propose this priority - sidewalks, shared pathways, public transit routes, other roads.

The most important first step is to build a shared pathway system that is uninterrupted and truly connects all Ottawa communities and neighbourhoods.

A Note on Bicycle Helmets

I would be remiss if I did not include this subject in this post/submission.

According to the Ontario Ministry of Transportation:
If you are under the age of 18 you are required by law to wear an approved bicycle helmet when travelling on any public road. Cyclists over 18 are encouraged to wear helmets for their own safety, but are not required to by law.

Source: MTO
It is unfortunate that the government of Ontario does not consider cyclists lives to be as important as drivers lives. Drivers and passengers in motor vehicles are required to use seat belts because they safe lives. The government does not seem to consider the lives of cyclists, who do not share the added protection of a metal cage with airbags around them, to be as worthy of protection.

There is extensive proof and studies as well as submissions from various medical organizations that bicycle helmets save lives and reduce injuries, yet we still do not require cyclists over 18 to wear seat belts. What is even more worrisome is the opposition to seat belt legislation from some so-called bicycle advocacy and safety organizations.

I am not going to outline all the evidence and submissions from medical experts here as that would be a treatise on it's own but I am going recommend that City of Ottawa to call upon the Ontario government to recognize that cyclists lives are just as important as the lives of motor vehicle passengers by passing legislation requiring that all cyclists wear helmets.

And a note to parents. Do you know where your daughter's helmet is after she is out of your sight. As one who passes them on the pathways often I can tell you that most of the time it is hanging from her handlebars. Part of the reason for this may be that, in my experience, there appears to be no enforcement of the helmet legislation for those under 18 years of age.

Final Words

It is vital that the City of Ottawa undertake a public education campaign for motorists and cyclists that stresses awareness of other users of the roads and pathways and the need for everyone to obey the rules of the road. Enforcement should be concentrated on the real danger to life and limb - motorists.


This is being submitted to:

Ottawa Roads and Cycling Advisory Committee

Councillor Peggy Feltmate

Councillor Alex Cullen

Councillor Clive Doucet


Do Computers Make Editing Too Easy

I am in the middle of writing a long comprehensive blog post. Actually I am finished writing it and doing the final edit. My problem is that with computers making it so easy to edit text I have developed a system whereby I keep doing a final read through until I do a read through without changes. However I seem to make changes with every read through. So when is it really ready to publish.

Stand by for my next blog post.


Spamless SPAM - What's The Point

Lately I have noticed an increasing amount of SPAM in my blog's comments section. One common post links to what looks like a porn site and is particularly distasteful.

I can understand the point, albeit lame, of SPAM that tries to sell you something or divert you to a website but there is also another type popping up. This is anonymous generic praise SPAM with no sales pitches or links included. The last two I received were posted by "Anonymous" and read like this.

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

It is extremely interesting for me to read the article. Thank author for it. I like such topics and anything that is connected to this matter. I definitely want to read a bit more soon.
Comments or praise that does not make any mention of the subject of the blog post it is attached to always raises my suspicions. So I googled both of the phrases above and found that they were posted to many many other blogs. So what is the point.

The only thing I can come up with is that spammers are testing new robotic SPAM posting software and we should be prepared for a deluge.

Comments anyone - real ones, that is.