Traffic chaos is all a matter of perspective

"Just because we’re getting a taste of big city traffic doesn’t mean we have to resort to a similar temperament"

Usually my morning commute to work couldn’t be a better way to start a work day. I hike across the bridge from East Trail, watch the water flow beneath me and stare at the mural and the mountains ahead.

But that hasn’t been the case lately.

The downtown revitalization plan has thrown a bump in the road and gave many commuters a taste of what life is like on a daily basis in many other parts of Canada.

Most have taken it in stride, others not so much. The rules of decorum in small town traffic have gone out the window or rather into my window so to speak.

Just because we’re getting a taste of big city traffic doesn’t mean we have to resort to a similar temperament.

Perched above Cedar Ave., in the Trail  Times building, we have an incredible view of Red Mountain and can peruse the hillsides of West Trail. It’s actually a bit of a mind retreat to take your eyes off the computer and glance up at the runs at Red or the kaleidoscope of changing seasons.

But now I get the sense that we’re in the heart of a big city with construction noises and horns honking.

Since I don’t get behind the wheel of a car to get downtown I can’t feel any of the recent frustration. But I can relate to my journeys in any city and the sudden increase in traffic and reduction in flow. It can be stressful, frustrating and annoying.

However, putting it all into perspective it’s a small price to pay for a general refurbishing of the city’s inner works on top of revitalizing the downtown area.

We’ve heard the constant chorus from experts across the country that Canada’s infrastructure is aging. Fixing that doesn’t come without a price.

We’ve witnessed it in other communities like Castlegar and Nelson and, of course, Rossland went through the entire downtown upheaval last year.

But for some that price shouldn’t include slowing down their daily commute.

Most of us have experienced  the chaos trying to maintain a normal life through major home renovations. Boxes become cupboards, chairs become coat racks and the bathroom sometimes doubles as a storage closet. It’s frustrating, annoying but we persevere because of the final goal.

However, if that analogy doesn’t ease the pain of sitting through Trail traffic in August and September, just think it could be worse.

With more census data in the news today, it reminded me of a story in June detailing commuting time across Canada. The National Housing Survey said that everyday 15.4 million Canadians commute to work with 11.4 million driving a vehicle to work.

Those living in southern Ontario had the longest average commute at 45 minutes or more. That’s daily, both ways, for most of their working lives, not just for a couple of months in 2013. Basically at least two hours each day is spent slogging through traffic.

Another part of the survey showed that seven out of 10 Canadians live in a metropolitan area. Anyone who has driven in any city over 50,000 people knows that traffic is a way of life when there is that many people.

Delays, being cut off, people honking their horns and the general frustration come with all the benefits of living in a metropolitan area. For some it’s a trade off and it becomes just another part of the day.

However, that’s not the way things are in our corner. Things usually run smoothly with the odd bit of traffic created by a slow-moving truck gaining steam.

We aren’t used to sitting in a line up and watching the light change without moving an inch.

Deep down we know this won’t last forever. At least not like in the big city where you simply accept and succumb to it.

The one thing I have learned from dealing with traffic from Calgary to Vancouver is that the entire routine is like the grocery store.  Sometimes you want to switch to the other lane but you know if you do the odds are the lane you were in usually starts moving. So the best bet is just to sit there, wait your turn and look at the magazine covers.

Of course, while sitting in traffic many turn to other modes to kill time.

Just be happy the police aren’t on foot or bike patrol when traffic is backed up. Despite a much-publicized distracted driving blitz, they’re missing out on a cash windfall with all the people on cell phones in slow-moving traffic.

Guy Bertrand is the managing editor of the Trail Daily Times