Opinion

Please Advise! I'm Mad as Hell, and I'm Not Going to Namastake it Anymore

Burrard Bridge 'yogathon' a perfect opportunity to get bent out of shape.

By Steve Burgess 9 Jun 2015 | TheTyee.ca

Steve Burgess writes about politics and culture for The Tyee. Find his previous articles here.

[Editor's note: Steve Burgess is an accredited spin doctor with a Ph.D in Centrifugal Rhetoric from the University of SASE, situated on the lovely campus of PO Box 7650, Cayman Islands. In this space he dispenses PR advice to politicians, the rich and famous, the troubled and well-heeled, the wealthy and gullible.]

Dear Dr. Steve,

I'm madder than Satan at a prayer meeting. I'm as worked up as a toddler full of Pepsi on a crowded airplane. I'm hotter than a jalapeno pepper with a toothache. Why? They just won't stop messing with the Burrard Bridge.

First they announced plans to take away another lane from the decent motoring public and give it to, I don't know, maybe free-range chickens. And then -- Lord, give me strength -- Premier Christy Clark announced the bridge will be closed eight hours Sunday, June 21. For what? For yoga.

Yoga, Dr. Steve. You're a doctor. Tell them to stop.

Signed,

Ornery Mom

Dear OM,

This ought to be good. I can already hear the gravelly-voiced radio headlines:

"Extreme Yoga Showdown! Yogis vs. Motorists! Blissed vs. Pissed! A Gear-Jammin' Downward-Doggin' Duel! Burrard Bridge, Sunday, June 21, 4 to 11 a.m.: BE THEEEERE!!"

But it makes some sense, OM. Yoga is about people twisting themselves into weird poses, and it's working -- people are already getting completely bent out of shape over this.

Not just motorists either. Politicians too. When you think about it this is a brilliant move by Premier Clark, a perfect political lotus position. If SUV-driving voters are sufficiently pissed off to remember this at election time, who are they going to vote for? Ted Cruz? And what does the NDP do -- come out against bliss?

As for the new Burrard Bridge lane plan, as a regular bridge biker I figured something had to be done. The current layout works about as well as Communism. By the time pedestrians approaching on the east side of Burrard discover they have entered a no-walkies zone, their safest option is to throw themselves into five lanes of oncoming traffic and hope for the best.

Bike lane blues

I understand you're angry, OM. And this too is all part of the universe's grand design. Your anger is essential if we are to perpetuate the media narrative. You've seen it on local news -- maybe they even interviewed you. You'd be perfect. Any story involving the infringement of the motoring prerogatives upon which our society was founded will be seized upon as an opportunity for eye-rolling and thinly-veiled derision. The lede practically writes itself: "What are those bike-loving City Hall whack jobs up to now? We went out on the street for your thoughtful perspective!"

The person-on-the-street interview, that mainstay of local news, is in theory, a mechanism for public input -- the voice of the people. In practice it is generally an invitation to communal rage. Look! These people are mad as hell and no longer planning to take it -- gas prices, transit taxes, more bike lanes -- anymore! How about you? (To be fair, these interviews are not solely about stoking populist anger. They are also periodically used to underline the epic truths that nice weather is nice, cold weather cold, and tragedy tragic.)

Breathe in, breathe out

These evening news hits are only incidentally about the subject of the day. It's not as if local media is part of some anti-bike lane conspiracy. No, it's just standard TV news procedure -- figure out who to pander to, and commence. The man-on-the-street interviews of yesteryear would have been about smoke-belching horseless carriages frightening the horses. I only wish we'd listened.

Maybe we all need more yoga. Or maybe we all need more populist outrage. Either way the Burrard Bridge Yoga Fest will be made to order. On one side of the barricades, peace and tranquillity -- on the other, seething, homicidal anger. The universe in harmony.

It's just one Sunday morning. Take the Granville bridge, for Krishna's sake.  [Tyee]

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