Yes, there are cars today on the Pattullo
If you live in a big city long enough, you kind of get used to the noise. There are the sirens, the barking dogs, the loud motorcycles. But there is one noise that just seems to bug me more than others. It's the sound of a whirling traffic helicopter flying just above my New Westminster home every morning as it surveys the condition of the Pattulo Bridge commute.
Not long ago there were no helicopters and single-engine Cessnas buzzing around Metro Vancouver to "survey" the traffic conditions for us. It's hard to imagine how we all survived pre-airborne traffic monitoring. In the "old days," people used to simply listen to local radio stations who were often alerted to traffic jams by their listeners. It wasn't as precise as having a helicopter buzzing overhead, but most commuters understood when there were backups reported in a particular area, they should avoid it.
Large urban centres like Los Angeles and New York have had traffic helicopters long before they were ever introduced into the Vancouver market. In fact, I recall a trip I made down to LA a number of years ago where I was summarily woken up every morning precisely at 5:45 am as the helicopter hovered above my hotel to scope out the traffic. Needless to say, I never booked a stay at that hotel again and forever more I've found the sound of these low flying helicopters quite annoying.
The reality is that these helicopters/planes must burn up hundreds of gallons of fuel each week as they buzz through our local airspace. In the case of New Westminster (already described as the central nervous system of Metro Vancouver's traffic), we are already negatively impacted by everyone using our local streets as a thoroughfare on their daily commute to and from Vancouver. I guess the sound of noisy helicopters is just the cherry on top for local residents faced with clogged arterials during rush hours.
I don't regularly commute to work by vehicle, so perhaps my perspective is somewhat tainted by the fact that I use public transit. I bet there are many of you would argue that traffic helicopters are a godsend in helping you get to and from work in a timely way. If so, how? Are traffic helicopters really that much more advantageous than the older method of simply listening to the local traffic report on radio, or even checking your Tweets. Surely, there is a more efficient and accurate, not to mention affordable and sustainable way to relay live traffic reports.
While I do appreciate the banter we sometimes get on radio stations like CKNW and others from the reporters, do they have to be in the air to be entertaining or even credible?
Yes, cities are a noisy place to be. Some noises are more tolerable than others. Have a look at the video I shot and let us know if you'd like that hovering above your neighbourhood each morning. Leave a comment below and join in the debate.
- post by Daniel