Not everyone can see them but, like Santa Claus, there are invisible cargo carriers out there. Some cannot see these cargo carriers because of simple things like darkness of night. But many do not see them because they chose to be blind to their presence.
Much like the population of homeless persons, those transporting cargo through unorthodox means, are not officially visible. Certainly they’re not visible to politicians and officials who control the maintenance and design of roadways. Yet Gorski Consulting has managed to capture come photos of them in recent years.
In official circles the future will include large numbers of cargo bikes which ride swiftly and conveniently within a 1.5-metre-wide cycling lane. Planning and development is focused on this throughout cities like London, Ontario. In unofficial reality the situation is more complex.
Here is an example of a “cargo bike” not being ridden in a cycling lane but on a city sidewalk. The larger width of the mini-trailer means that it would likely not fit well within a 1.5-metre cycling lane.
Here a cyclist pulling a mini-trailer rides on the road but his visibility to drivers is limited because his height is below many vehicles such as the white van behind him. There are many instances where the driver of the red mini-van cannot see the cyclist because of such a blockage of view and, if the white van moves abruptly to the right the driver of the red mini-van can be faced with the appearance of the cyclist within a very short time and distance.
In this instance a man is carrying both, a chain saw and a Tim Horton’s coffee mug in the same hand, while using the other hand to steer his bicycle. He was located on a sidewalk but this poses a problem regardless of where he rides. No roadway designs can efficiently accommodate such a rider. However inquiries as to why this rider has chosen this action could result in changes to prevent an accident.
A common example is seen here where cans are being transported in a grocery cart, usually to a local beer store. Here the pedestrian is using the shared cycling lane which has no defined width. The person should be walking on the sidewalk. If he chose to walk within a cycling lane he would not fit efficiently within a 1.5-metre width of a typical cycling lane.
This person has difficulty seeing around his loaded grocery cart that is being pushed on a City street. Fines laid against such a person are blind to the understanding that this action often occurs through necessity. An alternative approach is to gain information as to why this person is carrying the cargo and whether an alternative is available, such as a different transportation device, which allows the person to achieve his needs.
In this instance a mini-trailer is being pulled by a medical scooter. When crossing over uneven terrain the loose materials are in jeopardy of falling off. Yet there in no law that states such cargo should be securely tied down like there would be with a motor vehicle. Again, an inquiry as to why this is occurring and how it could be altered is more productive than simply fining the individual.
Parking for a loaded grocery cart is a simple problem, it would seem here, where the cart is simply left in the eastbound lane of Dundas Street near English Street in east London. Such events occur when many persons live on the street and their “house” rides on these four wheels.
A very common way to transport a loaded shopping cart is to use a bicycle, as shown here. However such an arrangement would not fit within a 1.5-metre cycling lane. In this instance the transportation is occurring on a City sidewalk.
Here is another example of an overloaded shopping cart where the person cannot see ahead of the cargo and the blue cargo near the base of the cart is quite wide making it unlikely that it would fit on a sidewalk or within the narrow confines of 1.5-metre cycling lane. Here the person simply uses the right road edge for his travels. Obviously this can cause traffic problems depending on the roadway where is occurs.
Here is another example of a cyclist carrying cans, likely to a beer store. No helmet means that if he loses his balance he could experience a possible head injury. Yet carrying cargo in this fashion increases the likelihood that balance could be lost if, for example, the bag of cargo strikes something close to the sidewalk.
In this instance the cyclist is pulling a small loaded wagon with an improvised, long draw bar. Motorists do not expect a cyclist to be pulling such an object and, because the wagon is low to the ground, many motorists would not detect its presence in traffic. Again what is needed to an inquiry as to why this unorthodox procedure is used and whether a different method of transportation can be found.
In this example a medical cart is being used to pull a large garbage pail along a City sidewalk.
And in this example more cans are being transported on a sidewalk using a two-wheeled cart.
When weather conditions are not favourable these persons have placed a large umbrella over their loaded shopping car. In many instances these could be the only possessions of the individuals who could be homeless.
There are instances where dog owners will attach their pets to a harness and then attach the harness to a cart. This improvised “dog sledding” does not always result in satisfactory control of where/how the dog will pull the cart. In conditions of higher motor vehicle volumes the situation is not ideal.
The above examples show the complexity with which cargo is transported through roadways in the City of London Ontario. Many of these improvised methods of transportation are created through necessity as economically disadvantaged citizens cannot afford a more efficient method of carrying their goods. Gatherers of scrap metal, aluminum cans or other materials can sell these materials and gain some needed income. When a minimum guaranteed income is insufficient to enable persons a safe survival persons naturally improvise to survive.
As the population of homeless persons in London has mushroomed over the last few years so have the numbers of unorthodox instances of cargo transportation. Where society has failed to improve the plight of the homelessness or economically disadvantaged it must also experience complications when transportation essential to the homeless becomes a safety issue because the road system is not designed to accommodate these invisible persons. Recent discussion has focused on roads that are designed for “all ages and abilities” but this seems to be only for the visible population. Are roads to be designed only for “all ages and abilities” of “visible” persons? Or are we able to open our eyes and see everyone who uses our public roads.