Every year, we look forward to the Stanley Park European Classic Car Meet and Das Volks show, which showcases the best of the local European vintage cars as well as the biggest VW gathering in Alberta. This year, the event was threatened by the week long rain that preceded it, but with the weather gods cooperating, the show went on as scheduled without a hitch. Check out some of our favorites from the show this year.
First on the list is Herbie the Love Bug. Herbie was a generational icon for many of us old timers. It sucks that Lindsay Lohan ruined it for the current generation.
The Southwest Calgary Ring Road project has not started yet, and it’ll be a many years before it is completed but that doesn’t mean we can’t go on a virtual drive of it before then. Watching the video explains why the Southwest Ring Road has a mega budget of $5 Billion with 37 bridges along the route, crossing both the Elbow River and Fish Creek.
The virtual drive starts at the current terminus of the NW Ring Road at the Trans Canada Highway and snakes its weigh on the western edge of Calgary to connect with 69th street (West Calgary Ring Road) then continues on in the second video all the way to Macleod Trail in the south.
Today, Alberta Premier Alison Redford along with Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi and Alberta Transportation Minister and former Calgary Alderman Ric McIver were on hand for the opening celebrations of the West LRT line. Speeches by all three of them were full of thank-yous for everyone involved. A big round of applause rang through the Ernest Manning High School gymnasium when former Calgary Mayor Dave Bronconnier was thanked for having the vision and dream for the West LRT line and for spearheading the project.
With today’s passing of Bill 26, Albertans are soon to face much tougher penalties in regards to impaired driving, and blowing between the 0.05 BAC warn limit, and the 0.08 BAC criminal DUI limit. Under the new law, if a person is caught driving with a BAC level from 0.05 to 0.08, their license would be suspended for 3 days, and their car could also be seized for the same period. That’s an increase from the previous 24-hour suspension for blowing between the 2 levels.
There has been a lot of debate over how strict this limit is, and how many drinks will actually tip you over the limit. In our first unscientific breathalyzer challenge, we found that most of us couldn’t even register a 0.05 while drinking at a bar, even though all of us did not feel safe to drive. We concluded at that time that 0.08 is way too high of a limit, and applaude the tougher 0.05 rules that were being considered.
There were a lot of criticism over our testing methods,
Calgary Police Sargeant Texting While Driving (Photo by: forum member Jetta-2.0)
Starting this Thursday, Police in Alberta will be able to start issuing tickets under the Traffic Safety Act for distracted driving. On September 1, 2011 the amendment of Section 115 takes effect and will prohibit drivers from using hand-held cell phones to not only make calls but more importantly text or e-mail. The use of electronic devices such as laptops, portable gaming systems, video screens (portable or built into the vehicle) is also not allowed. While using a GPS will still be allowed, drivers will not be able to enter information into one while driving.
The new distracted driver bylaw does not stop there though. Reading, writing, drawing and personal grooming and hygiene are all on the “not allowed” list. Getting caught doing any of the above activities while operating a vehicle and it’ll cost you a nice $172. Notice the use of the word “vehicle”. That’s right, if you do any of the above while riding your bicycle, you could technically still be ticketed so put away that floss as you pedal down the pathways.
Will the distracted driving bylaw be effective as a road safety measure? Without demerit points to go with the fine, some drivers may find it worth the risk to continue doing what they do. On that same note, police officers knowing that the ticket does not have demerits may write more tickets as they know most people will not bother fighting the ticket as it will likely cost more to fight than to simply pay the fine.
Those in the insurance industry may be able to shed some light on this, but as a non-moving violation will drivers that get hit with this face higher insurance premiums? According to the Government of Alberta website, drivers that commit moving violations may get two tickets, one for the distracted driving and one for their moving violation. Police departments will be happy to hear they’ll be able to pick up an extra $150 in revenue each time they issue one of these tickets.
Some questions for you to ponder as we countdown to 9/1: Is eating a distraction? What about pets running around the vehicle? Can a conversation with a back seat passenger be a distraction? Is driving distracted worse or is driving while tired?
A story by Jamie Komarnicki of the Calgary Herald raises a whole raft of points and, no doubt, an even wider range of opinions. As Komarnicki writes, a group of Alberta Hutterites says it plans to drive without proper driver’s licences rather than violate long-held religious beliefs by posing for the photo required by official government documents.
When the Tsuu T’ina nation surprised Calgarians (and Premier Ed Stelmach) by voting against the proposal that would have saw the SW portion of the ring road cut through their reserve, the Municipal and Provincial Governments immediately began working on alternative plans. Action on the alternative plans was so swift that even the Tsuu T’ina nation seemed to be caught off-guard as Chief Sandford Big Plume held onto his hope that talks would resume. Unfortunately for Big Plume, the Province of Alberta and the City of Calgary were done talking. 40 Years of talking is too much, even for politicians.
The City took the first step to alleviate traffic pressures in the SW by constructing a roundabout on 37th street. Instead of allowing eastbound Glenmore Trail traffic to turn left across westbound Glenmore Trail traffic the new configuration has drivers making a right turn at 37th street. They then enter the roundabout to make a u-turn to continue travelling on north on 37th street. The location of the roundabout irked the Tsuu T’ina tribe–it is located right at the entrance of the Grey Eagle Casino. The City received a letter from the tribe on October 16th, dated October 2nd which warns that the Tsuu T’ina nation:
“does not consent to any road construction on or near Tsuu T’ina Nation lands not accounting for the Tsuu T’ina Nation’s rights to enter and leave lands at any point along our borders.” It goes on to say that “any interference by the city of Calgary of Tsuu T’ina Nation’s rights to enter and leave its lands at any point along Tsuu T’ina Nation boundaries constitutes a breach of our rights under Treaty No. 7.
The next part is the kicker:
“Any construction of roads by the city of Calgary or the permitting of any other buildings or development along the road is a breach of Tsuu T’ina Nation’s rights under Treaty No. 7.”
Mayor Dave Bronconnier was not deterred by the threat of legal action. “We’re not going to stop because the First Nation writes a letter asking us to stop.” He went on to reiterate that the City of Calgary will continue to provide the tribe legal access to the reserve through the Anderson Road and 37th street intersection. The mayor said the city would consult with the Tsuu T’ina nation as a courtesy. “We would seek their input, not their approval.”
Brilliant. I say if you’re going to play hardball, you better be ready to deal with the outcome. The Tsuu T’ina gambled for a better deal from the Province and City but their bluff was called. They now face the prospects of getting nothing and may even lose a key entrance to their Grey Eagle Casino. Perhaps the gambling should best be kept inside the casino.
After raising the basic auto insurance rate by 5% last year, the auto insurance industry will be rolling back that increase after the Auto Insurance Rate Board announced its decision today after holding public hearings last month. As with the increase last year, the new rates will take effect on November 1st. The AIRB only regulates the cost the basic insurance and not additional coverage such as collision.
“Today’s announcement shows how auto insurance reforms are working for Albertans,” Alf Savage, chairman of the Auto Insurance Rate Board, said in a statement.
“Since the introduction of the reforms in 2004, rates for compulsory auto insurance coverage have decreased by 18 per cent.”
While compulsory auto insurance rates have gone down, insurance companies have offset the difference with increased premiums for collision coverage. The court ruling that allows the Alberta Government to set a compensation cap on soft-tissue injuries benefits only the insurance companies at the expense of Albertans.
Think about this for a moment. The 5% decrease in insurance premiums works out on average to be about $30/year back into your pocket. For the short-term thinkers this may seem like a great thing; thats an extra case of beer, Right on! However, as anyone that has been involved in an injury accident can attest to, the $4,500 cap on soft-tissue injury compensation is hardly enough to cover all the medical and other miscellaneous expenses that come with these injuries. The cap on payouts keeps the money in the insurance companies pocket, and drivers in alberta get a slap-in-your-face $30 back.