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Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Archive for August 12th, 2007

Street racer called selfish, hedonistic

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Richmond News

streetracercalledselfish.jpg

A yellow Lamborghini Gallardo, worth approximately $200,000 US, sits idly at Rusty’s Towing on River Road. Kwok Kei Victor Tang was driving it when he was pulled over by Richmond RCMP July 29.

Brett Beadle/Richmond News

This is the sort of story to make one’s blood boil. He was already banned from driving after he killed a pedestrian during a street race. At the time of his apprehension he gave the police false information and evaded immediate arrest, though they have now caught up with him and at least he has been denied bail.

Tang was convicted in 2001 in the June 29, 2000 death of pedestrian Jerry Kithithee. Tang, who did not have a valid driver’s licence, was involved in a street race at the time, reaching speeds of 150 to 200 km/h.

After striking Kithithee, Tang dragged the man’s body for about a block, then stopped to dislodge the body from the car and drove off, according to parole documents. He turned himself in the next day.

Tang was convicted of criminal negligence causing death, sentenced to four years in jail and given a 10-year driving suspension.

Tang received parole in 2003, but just six months later it was revoked and he was sent back to jail after he was caught by Vancouver police’s gang squad driving a 2002 Mini Cooper in Richmond.

I am not one of the “hang ’em and flog ’em” school of justice but serving two years seems a bit light for killing a human being through thoughtlessness. The idea that somehow he could drive at 200 km/h and not hurt anyone seems to me to demonstrate a lack of contact with reality.

…it’s not clear how he can afford the kind of luxury cars he has been caught driving, which include a Porsche Boxster and the yellow Lamborghini.

And, of course, I am not going to speculate. But the sad truth is that this is not an isolated case. This is one young man who at least is in custody now. But there are still far too many of his ilk on our streets. I see them everyday, driving at ridiculous speeds, weaving through traffic, forcing their way through line ups, cutting through forecourts rather than wait a few seconds for a light and generally behaving the way they see their heroes driving in action movies and video games. Their vehicles are readily identifiable. They are not interested in stealth cars, thank goodness. The louder and flashier the better seems to be their creed. And usually with those extra bright headlights with the blue tint – or even blue lights in or on the vehicle to deliberately confuse and deceive.

Richmond dealt with the problem of street racing on some isolated, wide, straight streets by installing New Jersey barriers to reduce the width of the road. This was successful simply in moving the problem somewhere else. At least one fatal street race has occurred on SE Marine Drive in Vancouver. It is rather like the way that crackdowns on other street crimes like drug dealing or prostitution simply move them around into other neighborhoods. More wide reachning and effective methods are needed.

We do need to have more traffic police enforcement on the streets, and that does need to include photo radar and average speed cameras. In addition to many more conventional video cameras in critical areas. And I know that this will get both the civil liberties and the “it’s just a tax grab” crowd going. But I think we owe it to Jerry Kithithee and his family. And the other innocent victims of the selfish and hedonistic. Who will have to be caught, tried, convicted and dealt with. And who will need much more considered and appropriate treatment than two years incarceration and then parole.

Written by Stephen Rees

August 12, 2007 at 7:47 pm

Posted in Road safety

Businesses pack their bags

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Richmond News

by Nelson Bennett: August 10, 2007

An exodus of small businesses from No. 3 Road has begun, as the Canada Line rapid transit system brings traffic disruptions and rising rents to No. 3 Road.In their wake come high-stakes real estate investments that are breaking records and promising to change the face of No. 3 Roads retail and commercial sector.

The story is not quite the same as Cambie Street in Vancouver. Businesses are moving rather than going bust, although a number report lower sales, even before the building started. For example Replay Sports, recently relocated to Garden City after sales at their No 3 Road store fell 40%.

The general tone of the story is that change in businesses is a constant and the Canada Line is merely accelerating the process. A couple of hard luck stories are thrown in for “balance” but generally the News seems to be taking the line that good times are coming and business will boom once the line opens.

I suspect that what we will see will be the gradual homogenization into corporate domination. The “no place anywhere” kind of feeling you get when you drive through Langley or Surrey and realize it really doesn’t matter where you go because there is no longer any real choice. It just the same chains and  franchises as everywhere else. Yaohan and Aberdeen will continue to do well, of that there is no doubt. But the smaller scale, individual businesses, which have been an important part of the  functioning of the city will have gone.

Written by Stephen Rees

August 12, 2007 at 7:24 pm