French-only warning signs dangerous: Letter to the editor

Leave a comment

Published in the Montreal Gazette, March 16, 2018
These French-only warning signs are actually dangerous for highway motorists not proficient in the French language. When approaching these massive electronic billboards and not immediately recognizing ominous words like “cahouteuse” or “aquaplanage” Without mastery of French you wouldn’t know whether to pull off the road or to call 911 for an urgent translation! I’ve made numerous demands for bilingual warnings and their inaction speaks volumes, in any language. They don’t care if you don’t understand.
Glenn J. Nashen
Cote Saint-Luc

N

In reference to:

Opinion: Meaning of Quebec highway signs should be clear to all

A year after National Assembly petition, provincial government still has not responded to safety concerns.

Bilingual traffic sign petition concludes with nearly 7,000 signatures

Leave a comment

The petition calling on the Quebec government to install bilingual traffic safety signs, as allowed by the province’s language law, ended March 2 with close to 7,000 signatures.

According to the petition page on the National Assembly website, 6,938 people signed online, and 46 people signed a paper petition, adding up to at least 6,984 names.

There was an apparent discrepancy as late on the night of March 2, the petition page listed 6,979 signatures. We were told by MNA David Birnbaum’s office that 41 were removed because of duplicates.

The petition, which will be presented in the National Assembly March 14, was created by Hampstead lawyer Harold Staviss and Côte St. Luc Councillor Ruth Kovac, and sponsored by Birnbaum. Kovac and Staviss will be in the National Assembly as the petition will be presented.

Staviss and Kovac were pleased with the support shown for bilingual traffic signs, including electronic signs which provide safety alerts such as smog warnings, accidents on highways and other advisories.

Staviss thanked Birnbaum and his bureau chief Elisabeth Prass for their support and guidance.

“One doesn’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that safety should be more important than language,” Staviss added. “Unfortunately in the province of Quebec, the protection of the French language far outweighs everything, even safety.

“The Charter of the French Language clearly states that for reasons of health or public safety, the French inscription on traffic signs may be complemented or replaced by symbols or pictographs, and another language may be used where no symbol or pictograph exists,” he pointed out. “All we are asking for is what the Charter of the French language allows. Having signage dealing with health or public safety, in both French and English, is definitely not going to diminish or threaten the French language in any manner whatsoever. The time to be safer, courteous and more welcoming is now. Since Ontario has bilingual traffic signage, so should Quebec.”

Kovac said the majority Liberal government should “take a bold step and override the OQLF stranglehold on signage .

“Whereas various levels of government are also advertising in English only, inviting Americans to celebrate our different birthdays (Montreal’s and Canada’s), it makes sense that getting here be safer and clearer,” she added. “It no way diminishes the French language. It’s about time we recognize that we live in a global community. I am hopeful that MNAs from across Quebec will look at this through a 2017 lens and recognize the benefits of bilingual signage.”

Adding English would make us all safer

Leave a comment

Free Press, Letters, Feb. 14, 2017

As we all know, all traffic signs on Quebec highways are solely in French. When driving, do you know what «Respectez les feux de voies», «Risque d’aquaplanage», «Dégel», «Ralentir», «Allumez vos phares», «Voie cahoteuse» and «Incident voie droite bloquée» mean?

Are you aware that according to the Charter of the French Language, the French inscription on traffic signs may be complemented or replaced by symbols or pictographs, and another language may be used where no symbol or pictograph exists? Seeing that the aforementioned phrases have to deal with one’s safety, why are they not in English as well, as the charter clearly provides?

It absolutely makes no sense whatsoever that the protection of the French language is more important than one’s safety. Shouldn’t the safety of everyone, whether French speaking or English speaking, be of prime importance? That is precisely why Ruth Kovac and I presented a petition to the provincial legislature through our legislator David Birnbaum.

Time is running out. The deadline of March 2 to sign the petition is fast approaching.

If you have already signed the petition, we thank you. If you have not signed, please do so. However, in all instances, please make sure that you share this with your family, friends, acquaintances, neighbours and your neighbours’ friends. Share on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The petition can be found at: www.assnat.qc.ca/en/exprimez-votre-opinion/petition/Petition-6407/index.html.

Numbers do speak volumes and volumes can bring about change. The petition has nothing to do with language; it has everything to do with safety.

Ruth Kovac, Côte St. Luc

Harold Staviss, Hampstead

Opinion: Safety should trump language for Quebec highway signs | Montreal Gazette

Leave a comment

The following is an excellent opinion piece by my friends Ruth and Harold. The petition to allow for bilingual sfaety signs on Quebec highways is on the National Assembly website, which has over 5,000 signatures. The petition can be seen and signed at www.assnat.qc.ca/en/exprimez-votre-opinion/petition/Petition-6407/index.html

Opinion: Safety should trump language for Quebec highway signs | Montreal Gazette

Transport Quebec restricting bilingual safety signs to border areas

Leave a comment

Suburban | July 1, 2015 | Click to enlarge

Suburban | June 24, 2015 | Click to enlarge

Any citizen of a free and democratic country should be outraged that its government would play with the safety of its population and its visitors for political purposes like this.

The fact that the Quebec Ministry of Transport has installed these electronic safety panels in the first place speaks to the need to inform motorists of serious issues ahead, on the road. The very nature of these messages is to alert, to warn, to safeguard motorists and passengers.

That Quebec would expressly restrict such messages to a single language speaks volumes of its intolerance of the English language and its contempt and disregard of English-speaking people, be they Quebecers or from elsewhere. This is totally unacceptable.

Join me in calling upon our government, through your MNA, to change this dangerous and discriminatory policy. I call upon my MNA, David Birnbaum, a principled man of goodwill, to speak with his colleagues in government, and to help them to see the serious error in this dangerous policy.

Birnbaum to look into SQ tweet language issue

1 Comment

Suburban Newspaper | Oct. 1, 2014 | Click to enlarge

Suburban Newspaper | Oct. 1, 2014 | Click to enlarge

Thank you to our MNA David Birnbaum for taking an interest in this issue. David has taken up the cause of a few emergency services issues very quickly in his mandate out of concern for our residents. His keen interest and quick action is appreciated.

Contrary to what the SQ has stated, Bill 101 does not prohibit English when it comes to public safety as the Montreal Police Department has correctly determined, in large part, in its use of social media. Indeed, there is some question as to whether or not Bill 101 has any jurisdiction at all over the use of Internet communications. Nevertheless, the provincial police has a mandate and duty to communicate, and logically to be understood, by residents of Quebec and visitors to our province. Tweeting in French only is a misinterpretation of their requirements to communicate effectively.

I will follow this dossier closely and next will encourage David to investigate why Transport Quebec is using the same narrow rulebook to exclude any English public safety messages from its enormous digital billboards on autoroutes across Quebec.

A beautiful day to celebrate public safety at the CSL Spring Fair

Leave a comment

The parking lot at Trudeau Park was filled with emergency services and vehicles today but there was no need for panic at the sight of all that commotion.  The annual Public Safety Day (as part of the larger CSL Spring Fair) was exciting for visitors young and old.

CSL EMS trainee shows off the First Responder Unit

In addition to local Public Security, EMS and Citizens on Patrol, residents got to kick some tires of vehicles from the RCMP, Transport Quebec, Montreal Police, Fire, Hydro Quebec, Hatzola and even the Baie d’Urfé COP unit.

From left: George Durocher, Leader of the Baie-D'Urfé Citizens on Patrol, CSL Public Safety Councillor GLenn J. Nashen, Baie-D'urfé Public Safety Councillor Wayne Belvedere

The Montreal Fire Department set up a “smoke trailer”, a miniature house on wheels for kids to learn about fire safety.  They enter a “smokey” bedroom and have to crawl to safety, all to learn a valuable lesson about staying safe.

The Montreal Auxiliary Fire Brigade was on hand explaining how they have been supporting the Fire Services for more than 65 years.

 

The Canadian Armed Forces were on display with a military ambulance and auxiliary nurses.  The Trauma Team of the Montreal Children’s Hospital was in full force offering up tips regarding bike helmets, car seats and much more in the way of injury prevention.

Many thanks to all those professionals and volunteers who participated in a succesful event, especially CSL Public Safety Director Jordy Reichson, CSL Public Security Chief Michel Martel and Neighbourhood Police Station 9 Commander Sylvain Bissonnette, as well as EMS Coordinator Melaine Selby and Public Security Lieutenant Anthony Tsakon, the CSL Communications team (Darryl Levine and Regine Banon), the Recreation team and Public Works Department (Bebe Newman and company). Kudos to COP Supervisors Lewis Cohen, Susie Schwartz and Mitchell Herf along with Team Leaders Mayman, Berkowitz and Schok and all COP members.  This was a great team effort. 

From left: CSL Public Safety Councillor Glenn J. Nashen, CSL Public Safety Director Jordy Reichson, Neighbourhood Police Station 9 Commander Sylvain Bissonnette and CSL Public Security Chief Michel Martel

 

Letter to the Editor, The Gazette, English safety signage allowed on Quebec highways

Comments Off on Letter to the Editor, The Gazette, English safety signage allowed on Quebec highways

Letters to the Editor – Printed in the Montreal Gazette on Nov. 19, 2008

Re: “Electronic highway messages must be brief to be safe” (Gazette, Nov. 17, 2008, Page A8)

So says Transport Quebec. But the Gazette didn’t respond to Ms. Wales’ question as to why these emergency messages are not in English as well. The language laws allow for emergency messages in English.

Think back to when a motorist died in a fiery crash entering an exit to the Ville Marie tunnel due to miscomprehension of the French only signage.

Yet the transport department continues to ignore the safety of hundreds of thousands of residents and visitors. Just ask any English-speaking motorist who uses the “met” (autoroute 40) what that huge flashing sign indicating “cahoteuse” means?

Glenn J. Nashen
Cote Saint-Luc

Montreal Gazette, Nov. 17, 2008 (Pg. A8)

Electronic highway messages must be brief to be safe
Road closed: no list of alternate routes
COMPILED BY MAX HARROLD, The Gazette
Q: I have often wondered why the overhead electronic highway signs are not in English as well. Also, why is there no alternate route listed when an access on the road is blocked up ahead? This would alleviate traffic tie-ups, don’t you think?

How much are we paying for those signs? I hardly ever see *4141 for the (Sûreté du Québec) listed anymore for emergency contact. It is fortunate that I have a long memory for this number, as I have used it many times from my cell to call in for a stranded motorist who might not have a cell phone. I always note the number for the state police as I pass through different (states in the) United States. I remember once being on Alligator Alley in the Florida Everglades just as night was falling and seeing a car with two flats on the side of the road with five people outside milling around. There were alligators around too. I called the emergency number for Florida and gave them the highway location of the stranded people. I like to think I saved them from the jaws of death.

Elspeth Wales

A: Alternate route suggestions on the electronic signs on highways would take too long to post and might cause accidents as drivers try to read them, said Mario St-Pierre, a spokesperson for Transport Quebec, which operates the signs.

“The message has to be brief and safe,” St-Pierre said. “People can make their own decisions (on alternate routes) after that.”

There are 31 fixed electronic message boards (that cost $100,000 to $150,000 each) and 67 much smaller mobile signs on Quebec’s highways, St-Pierre said. The average duration of each phrase on the signs is two to three seconds, and a message may take two phrases – but not more, as that would pose a safety hazard, he said.

Messages are about temporary road closings and road conditions that are affected by weather. They also give suggestions like changing to winter tires.

The information on the signs is fed to them through a cellular network. Transport Quebec monitors traffic cameras around the clock and uses what it sees to post messages on the signs.

St-Pierre said he did not know how often the Sûreté du Québec’s emergency phone number is posted on the signs.

SQ Sgt. Mélanie Paul said the police force has its own permanent signs posting the phone number, which is *4141 from any cell phone and 310-4141 from a land line (no area code is required within the province). The phone line is staffed 24 hours a day and may be used to report roadside emergencies.

Answers Compiled by Max Harrold

Cross over crosswalks

Leave a comment

Cross over crosswalks
An open letter to the Quebec Ministers of Transport and Public Security
The Suburban
May 30, 2007

For many years I have been frustrated by the extent of lawlessness that exists on Quebec roads with regard to pedestrian crosswalks. One need only travel to neighbouring provinces and states to see the vast difference in how those authorities take this matter very seriously, much more so than in Quebec.

As a pedestrian and a cyclist I am amazed at the total lack of respect for those crossing a street within designated crosswalks. What’s more, it seems to me that the Quebec government is a party to this free-for-all as the signage, education and enforcement to protect pedestrians is negligible at best. This point is only magnified by observing how our neighbours handle this dossier.

For example, in Ontario, standardized panels bearing a large black ‘X’ on a white background indicate crossing zones. Most often, this is accompanied by amber warning lights that signal a pedestrian in the crosswalk.

Furthermore, many urban centres have overhead lights that illuminate as the pedestrian crosses the road at night, increasing visibility and safety.

In the northeastern states, and beyond, crosswalks are often painted in a highly visible manner, are prominently marked with ample signage and very often have a median sign in the centre of the road in reflective orange and white reminding motorists very effectively, “State Law. Stop for Pedestrians in Crosswalk.” These laws are very strictly enforced by local police and State Troopers.

In Ontario and many states, one need only step off the curb, or even signal ones intention to cross by pointing one’s arm into the roadway to gain control of the crosswalk, providing ultimate safety. On bike paths that cross roadways, and even state highways, signage is posted alerting cyclists to dismount so that pedestrian/crosswalk laws are in effect.

In Quebec, one takes their life into their own hands by thinking one can safely traverse a roadway by virtue of the crosswalk designation. There is little respect by motorists and rarely any law enforcement. Signage is inconsistent – not nearly as visible as in the jurisdictions outlined above, road markings are irregular, enforcement is usually absent and therefore pedestrians are simply not nearly as safe as they ought to be.

During the school season I have noticed motorists ignoring crosswalks, directly in front of schools, and this while crossing guards, large Stop Signs in hand, unsuccessfully try to gain control of the crosswalk. This should not – cannot – be tolerated.

In Côte St. Luc we are continuing to improve our signage and street line markings for crosswalks and will begin installing median warning signs this summer. Our Public Security department conducted a school zone safety blitz with our neighbourhood police station last winter and will do so again this year. I hope that Quebec might learn from its neighbours and can increase safety in crosswalks by adopting best practices in use elsewhere and order provincial and municipal police forces to show zero tolerance to motorists who disregard fundamental safety regulations.

Glenn J. Nashen
City Councillor (Public Safety)
Côte St. Luc

Letter to M.N.A. L. Bergman, Pedestrian Crosswalks

Leave a comment

September 9, 2005

Mr. Lawrence Bergman
Minister of Revenue
MNA for D’Arcy McGee
5801 Cavendish Blvd., Suite 403
Cote Saint-Luc, QC  H4W 2T5

Dear Mr. Bergman,

For many years I have been frustrated by the extent of lawlessness that exists on Quebec roads with regard to pedestrian crosswalks.  One need only travel to neighbouring provinces and states to see the vast difference in how those authorities take this matter very seriously, much more so than in Quebec.

As a pedestrian (and a cyclist along Quebec bike paths such as Le Petit Train du Nord in the Laurentians) I am amazed at the total lack of respect for those crossing a street within designated crosswalks.  What’s more, it seems to me that the Quebec government is a party to this free-for-all as the signage, education and enforcement to protect pedestrians is negligible at best.  This point is only magnified by observing how our neighbours handle this dossier.

For example, in Ontario, standardized panels bearing a large black ‘X’ on a white background indicate crossing zones.  Most often, this is accompanied by amber warning lights that signal a pedestrian in the crosswalk.  Furthermore, many urban centres have overhead lights that illuminate as the pedestrian crosses the road at night, increasing visibility and safety.

In the northeastern states, and beyond, crosswalks are often painted in a highly visible manner, are prominently marked with signage and very often have a sign, and better yet, a median marker in reflective orange and white reminding motorists very effectively, “State Law.  Stop for Pedestrians in Crosswalk”.  These laws are very strictly enforced by local police and State Troopers.

In Ontario and many states, one need only step off the curb, or even signal ones intention to cross by pointing one’s arm into the roadway to gain control of the crosswalk, providing ultimate safety.  On bike paths that cross roadways, and even state highways, signage is posted alerting cyclists to dismount so that pedestrian/crosswalk laws are in effect.

In Quebec, one takes their life into their own hands by thinking one can safely traverse a roadway by virtue of the crosswalk designation.  There is little respect by motorists and barely any law enforcement.  Signage is inconsistent – not nearly as visible as in the jurisdictions outlined above, road markings are irregular, enforcement is usually absent and therefore pedestrians are simply not nearly as safe as they ought to be.

With the start of school I have begun noticing motorists ignoring crosswalks, directly in front of schools, and this while crossing guards, large Stop Signs in hand, unsuccessfully try to gain control of the crosswalk.  This should not – cannot – be tolerated.

I hope that Quebec might learn from its neighbours and the Quebec Minister of Transport can increase safety in crosswalks by adopting best practices in use elsewhere.

I would appreciate you sharing my comments and suggestions with your colleague, the Minister of Transport, and I look forward to a reply.

With best personal regards,

Glenn J. Nashen