Dale Beugin and Jessie Sitnick’s article (“Pricing the Open Road,” June) made some very good points about congestion pricing as a way to reduce traffic. However, they should also take a look at New Delhi’s strategy: because the traffic is so appalling there, heavy vehicles are prevented from entering the city during daytime hours. The same method should be considered for all North American cities. Simple, but very effective.
Beugin and Sitnick address the symptoms of the problem, not the cause. People drive because they can’t live close to where they work, or because available public transit is inadequate. Creating new bridges, tunnels, and freeways to alleviate traffic would be effective for only a short period of time. Instead, we should be focusing on improving public transit and seeking ways to minimize commuting distances.
In 1975, the professor in my highway-design class said, “If you build it, they will fill it.” You can build roads to reduce congestion, but as new housing and businesses are established alongside them, the traffic resumes.
The currency for congestion pricing is time, so in order to set tolls, one must ask: How much is time worth? People will pay for a shorter commute, and most won’t take transit if driving during rush-hour traffic is faster.
Congestion pricing may change people’s habits, but it probably won’t ease congestion—it will just end up moving more people. You can’t win the war against traffic.
New Hamburg, ON
Lock your Windows
Jonathan Kay assures us that we can stop worrying about online privacy (“No One Is Watching You,” June), because companies have learned that it’s bad for business. Still, in situations where invading our privacy is profitable, those companies will do it—most notably in the form of targeted advertising.
Kay’s faith in market forces is naive. New technologies produce countless effects, and we need to actively deal with them. Leaving the problem to fix itself is irrational.
Why does Jonathan Kay conclude that, although companies are benign, we will have much to fear from the surveillance state? He argues that we surrender some privacy willingly to companies in exchange for certain capabilities and services. Are we worse off for surrendering some privacy to the state for some degree of protection from terrorism?
The argument that the Canadian state is too intrusive will not withstand a major terrorist attack. Before that kind of thing happens, we should put more effort into finding ways to collaborate with our democratically elected government.
Katherine Laidlaw’s article (“The Verdict,” June) touched a nerve with me, as I’m sure it did with many others. Stories about sexual assault and justice are of value individually, but they also contribute to an important critical mass of discussion.
After the Jian Ghomeshi case surfaced in the news, one friend told me he had not always been sure of how to read some of the women he had slept with. We talked about Ghomeshi and grappled with the difference between the truth and the law. Another friend told me about his experience at a rally for survivors. He was upset and surprised to discover how many women he knew had been raped.
Whatever else has come out of the case—the rhetoric, vitriol, condemnation, and rage—I am thankful for the conversations it has started amongst my friends. It helped me understand how I felt, and I hope it helped them, too. More than anything, I hope these discussions are happening everywhere and can help us find a better way to do right by each other, as well as ourselves.