Polite Canadians Driven To Rage

Yesterday I'm walking my dog, Rufus, crossing a busy intersection (with the signal, of course), when an obviously angry driver directs his rage at us. I say "us" because I think this somewhat cryptic signal was more about Rufus, though obviously communicated to me. The driver, who had to wait for our crossing to make his turn, held one palm flat and with the other hand made a four-legged walking motion - simulating a dog - atop the flat palm. What he shouted, I couldn’t hear over the traffic and construction noise, but basically he was communicating to me, "Get your stupid dog off the road."

Now, maybe this man was just crazy, but that's my point; Vancouver's road rage problem has gotten so bad that drivers are infuriated at dogs. I'll mention that we were walking at normal speed; Rufus hadn't stopped mid-cross to take a whiz or stare at a nearby squirrel. This driver simply couldn’t stand having to wait any longer.

I live in an apartment over a busy avenue, where traffic is fairly non-stop. During rush, it gets ugly out there. Even the 10-block drive to my daughter's daycare can be aggravating for all its pedestrian crossings, parallel parkers and bottlenecks. The road we travel just wasn't meant for this much traffic.

A few short years ago, road rage was rarified in these parts. In fact, drivers had a rep for being overly friendly; they'd stop to let you cross the street before you stepped off the curb. Nowadays, I can be in the middle of a crosswalk and stand there while a dozen or more cars race past.

Vancouver long ago outgrew its infrastructure and has only recently started to think about how to deal with the discrepancy between number of commuters and road space. Even as I write, I'm hearing the rage outside my window: a male driver just screamed, "Pull your car over, a**hole!" Not too long ago, he might've instead yelled, "I'm sorry!"

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