Mayoral candidate George Smitherman's office put out a critique of mayoral candidate Rob Ford's stance on cycling. Witness the video where Ford state's that his "heart bleeds" for cyclists who are hit, but that in the end he feels that it is "their fault" for being hit, presumably because they shouldn't be on bikes at all.
This was an easy swipe at Ford and the video is making the rounds. The fact is, Mayoral Candidate Rob Ford is just not as suave as George Smitherman or candidate Rocco Rossi, though their basic stance is the same: take cyclists off the streets.
Smitherman, in his transportation plan, for instance, claims (unlike uncouth Ford) that he "supports Toronto cyclists and will make it easier for Torontonians to choose safe cycling". In order to that he will "rethink" the cycling plan. Then the first thing he will do is indefinitely postpone / cancel all bike lanes on arterial roads (Smitherman announced this soon after Rossi made a similar announcement). There are two major bones that Smitherman is throwing to cyclists, and both of them have their own issue (I'm ignoring the others because they're not really new at all):
- build physical separation of existing bike lanes
- "expedite" bike "expressways" through hydro corridors and ravines
- Most urban cyclists would prefer physically separated bike lanes. The reality is, aside from the contentious University Ave separated bike lanes which lost by 1 vote in City Council, there are not that many ideal locations for putting in barriers, particularly in downtown. The problem is that wherever the bike lanes are to the left of car parking a barrier can't be installed.
- Bike expressways are an important way to get in and out of downtown, but they are not a wholesale solution to safer cycling. Most Toronto cyclists live and bike in the core. There are very few ravines (or ideal minor street routes) in the core. The vast majority of locations where Toronto cyclists (like all Torontonians) begin and end their trips do not happen to conveniently coincide with an available hydro corridor or ravine. Smitherman (and Rossi's) have taken the approach that cyclists need to be removed as much as possible from our main streets, regardless of whether a cyclist needs to be on that street or not.
I highly doubt that Ford, Rossi or Smitherman have bothered to get expert advice on urban cycling needs. Their poor attitudes and approach to getting cyclists off the streets is like the 1970s all over again when mayors attempted to ban cyclists from major roads. Only now, (other than Ford) the candidates are being more politically correct in saying they support cyclists while still trying to remove them. Therefore I suggest voters to look further down the list for a realistic plan for cycling, pedestrians and sustainable transportation: Joe Pantalone, or less known candidates such as Himy Syed (who doesn't have an election website but does show up at cycling events) or others.
I'm not officially endorsing any of them at this time, but at least I find the statements they put out more palatable.