Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Rush Hour

Under democracy one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule - and both commonly succeed, and are right. - H. L. Mencken (1880 - 1956)
It was true a hundred years ago and still true today: people think "democracy" is a choice between only two parties.

On an unrelated note: rules are not like Mount Everest. You need not follow a rule "just because it's there". And you certainly shouldn't enforce a rule "just because it's there". Rules should only be enforced when they serve a purpose. I'm talking about cops handing out tickets for jaywalking when there are no cars in sight, or for mild speeding on a wide flat straight highway when road conditions are perfect and there is almost no traffic. I'm talking about this crazy rule on the Calgary C-Train that "no bikes are allowed during rush hour". I read that Calgary Transit is "happy" to have people with bikes on the train, just not during rush hour. I can only surmise this is due to the overcrowding that happens on some routes during that time. Here's the thing though: rush hour means people going into downtown in the morning and out of downtown in the evening.

There is no rush into downtown in the evening and (with the possible exception of the northwest train taking students to the university or SAIT) no rush out of downtown in the morning. Everyone knows this. Certainly the train drivers know this. This rule is a problem for me because I take my bike to work every day: leaving downtown in the morning and coming back in the evening. Every single day the trains are almost empty; there is a seat for everyone willing to sit down. In fact, it's quite possible that the trains are more empty during so-called rush hour than any other time of day. Why? Because the trains come 2-3 times as often, greatly reducing the passenger load per train. But some drivers still enforce the rule.

You might say rush hour is a time of day, but I say it is a state of affairs. There is no such thing as rush hour on Sunday. There is no such thing as rush hour out in the country. And there is no such thing as rush hour during an evening trip into downtown. On the other hand, during the two-week Calgary Stampede rodeo, rush hour comes at midnight.