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Dear Urban Diplomat: I’m sick of cyclists making up their own traffic rules

I recently spotted a biker crossing with pedestrians. Was I wrong to honk?

By Urban Diplomat| Illustrations by Salini Perera
Dear Urban Diplomat: I'm sick of cyclists making up their own traffic rules

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Dear Urban Diplomat: My wife keeps stealing berries from our neighbour's tree
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Dear Urban Diplomat: My wife keeps stealing berries from our neighbour’s tree

Dear Urban Diplomat, I’ve noticed that some traffic lights now allow pedestrians to advance a few seconds before vehicles as a safety measure, which I think is great. But, the other day, the cyclist in front of me advanced early along with the pedestrians. I’m sick of cyclists and their sense of entitlement, so I started honking at him. He flipped me the bird, and a couple of pedestrians gave me the stink eye. Was I really in the wrong? —Mixed Signals, Earlscourt

Legally, the rider was clearly breaking the rules: he should have waited with traffic. But that doesn’t justify pounding your horn. There are thousands of tiny infractions happening on every street corner, thoroughfare and bike lane in this city. If you take it upon yourself to police every one, you’ll contribute even more to the general chaos. Next time, holster your honk hand, think about something happy and carry on.


Dear Urban Diplomat, My partner and I got a heat pump for our house, which saves us money and is better for the environment. Due to the layout of our lot, we installed it right by our property line. Immediately, the neighbours griped, claiming that the noise was bothering them. But they play loud music all night, and we’ve never complained—suffering noise is part of city life. Our HVAC team also assured us that we own the quietest unit available. Still, the neighbours remain grumpy. Is there a civil way to handle this? —Keeping Our Cool, Upper Beaches

Consider investing in a sound-reducing blanket to wrap around the pump’s compressor. They cost roughly $90—a small price to pay for maintaining the peace. Then play the quid-pro-quo card and ask your neighbours if they might kill their music at 11 p.m. A little good faith can go a long way.


Dear Urban Diplomat, A couple of times a week, I play squash at a private club. A new member joined a few weeks ago, some hotshot investment banker. He plays like a jackass, screaming and banging his racquet off the walls when he concedes a point. I’d like to tell management, but apparently his membership came with a significant donation. Any ideas? —Making a Racquet, Forest Hill

If he is indeed a big-time donor, management will likely take his side, so I’d think twice about alerting them. Money talks, especially at clubs that rely on donations. Plus, inserting yourself into the situation could invite all sorts of nastiness: given the speed at which gossip travels, it won’t be long before you’re identified as the complainant. Instead, let nature run its course. No one likes playing with a racquet-­smashing hothead—it’s awkward and embarrassing. Pretty soon, word of Mr. Bay Street’s antics will spread. In the meantime, devote your mental energy to honing your squash skills. If you ever face off against this guy, you can make a more powerful statement on the court.


Dear Urban Diplomat, I work at a popular restaurant. When Michelin unveiled its list of starred spots a while back, we were left off. Since then, our chef has been unruly—screaming at cooks, berating servers, castigating himself when even the tiniest bit of food ends up in the bin. What should I do? —Dark Kitchen, Oakridge

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Resto-centric TV shows like The Bear often romanticize bad-tempered chefs. But, while kitchens will always be intense due to their fast pace, long hours and thin profit margins, abusive behaviour should never be tolerated. It sounds like your chef is having a mental health crisis, which makes sense given how Michelin nods can instantly elevate the reputation of a restaurant and its staff. I would suggest discreetly alerting your HR person (if you have one) to the fact that your boss could use some support—and some time off. If you still want to jump ship, the industry is facing a major talent shortage, and there’s bound to be a high-quality, harassment-free workplace out there that would be happy to have you.


Send your questions to the Urban Diplomat at urbandiplomat@torontolife.com

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