Toronto becomes more polarized around "war on car" / "war on bike"

There is some danger of assigning "mandates" to elections. Toronto just elected as mayor the worst choice possible for supporting walking or cycling. As Eric at Curbside puts it: "Today the city of Toronto voted in its 64th mayor, a porkchop of a man who, by all looks, rarely refuses gravy." So does this mean the war on the car has been won by the drivers?

Lloyd of Treehugger thinks so, that there's a big backlash coming:

The people of Toronto have spoken, loudly. Bike activists and environmentalists across the country should listen, there is an anger out there. Much of this was about taxes and purported waste, but a lot of it was about the war on the car, which we just lost.

Eric disagrees:

The fact is, people will handcuff themselves to streetcar tracks before any rail is removed and while the number of cyclists is only going to explode. We’re located in the Annex, home of Toronto’s powerful left-wing elite, and truth is, the Annex is spoiling for a fight. Not since the Spadina Expressway protests has there been a galvanizing reason to join minds. And, this time its going to be all about the bicycle.

I don't think we can generalize a mandate or a "mood" from one mayoral win, one way or the other. It appears as if Ford has received some kind of mandate around cutting taxes/spending (by less than half of those who voted). He also happened to put in his package some of his personal preferences around being pro-subway, anti-streetcar, anti-bikes on roads. He will even have a few supporters on council who might buy into the whole "war on the car": Vincent Crisanti, Doug Ford, Doug Holyday, Frances Nunziata, Denzil Minnan-Wong, Michelle Berardinetti, Michael Thompson, Mike Del Grande, Norm Kelly, Paul Ainslie, Ron Moeser, John Parker, David Shiner. Most of these right-wing councillors are older men who've been on council for years.

Does this mean that the majority of Torontonians swing this way?

Equally interesting, a number of pro-cycling, pro-transit councillors have been elected, including some replacements of crusty old men. My list includes these most likely to be pro-bike, pro-Transit City councillors: Anthony Perruzza, Sarah Doucette, Gord Perks, Mike Layton, Adam Vaughan, Joe Mihevc, Josh Matlow, Kristyn Wong-Tam, Pam McConnell, Mary Fragedakis, Paula Fletcher, Janet Davis, Mary-Margaret McMahon, Shelley Carroll, Glenn De Baeremaeker. A handful of others will swing pro-bike now and then such as Mark Grimes, Ana Bailao, Gloria Lindsay Luby.

If we look at Ottawa's new mayor we see someone diametrically opposite to Ford. Mayor-elect Jim Watson received 49% of the vote and gets the crucial role of transit and sustainable transportation. Heck, he even has a ten point plan for cycling! Ford received 47% and likes cars, football and steaks. Sometimes the tired "Vote for change" slogan is accurate - people just want something to change from the status quo.

Maybe Ford just thinks he looks fat on a bike. If we could just get him on one with a really wide saddle. If we could get him to read the Fat Guy Cycling blog. Maybe then he'll drop the whole anti-car schtick.

It will be a fight on Toronto's City Council, but this wasn't a mandate of anti-bike, anti-transit.


It's official.

A few years ago an ex- bike courier who had survived 20 years on the mean streets of Toronto
once told me that Toronto is a city that hates bikes ... I did not want to believe him then.
Well, now I know he was right.

Honestly, people, focus on the issues. The fact he is fat means absolutely nothing. It could be genetics, it could be laziness, it could be anything. Personally attacking the man doesn't solve a damn thing. In the end, HE is the one that's our new Mayor, because we voted him in. Attack his decisions, not his chins. I would hope that cyclists demonstrate their ability to be rational thinkers and behave accordingly.

On the downtown traffic thing, I say we invite it in. The only way something like this can be shown to be such a shit-show is to actually document it happening. It's like Quebec separation. They're on crack to think it would work, so the best way to get rid of it once and for all is to have it happen, and to catch it when it fails.

So, when the Super-Traffic arrives, we will have our ducks in a row to resurrect what we all know to be a great plan to implement international-level transit policies in Toronto. Maybe we are only 4 years away from realizing such an excellent vision. Voting for Rob Ford might be the optimal route, as nobody can deny the Super-Traffic we are about to see.

Thank you for your optimism. I appreciate it, and many of us need it. But its just so easy to view this as the Mega attacking the city in our lovely megacity. When I head out downtown on my bike today, I will feel like an outcast, a minority, oppressed and undervalued.

I know the election of Ford is not encouraging, but when it comes down to it I really believe that people will continue to take to bicycles in record numbers. While supportive government is a bonus, there is no reason that the groundswell of people participating in alternative, helpful modes of transportation will stop.

I'm not familiar with the "Super-Traffic" thing, but it seems to me the more clogged streets are the more attractive bike become. Lots of positive changes happen despite unwilling government all the time.

Herb is right about mandates here too, the Mayor holds one vote and must swim with the rest of council if he wants to get anything done. The sky isn't falling, its just a cloudy day.

To the ravines!

It's now more important than ever to be seen and to come out in numbers. Where do I find info on the next suburban critical mass?

And how many members does the Toronto Cyclist Union have?

Its important to take a breath.

FORD will have influence, and in theory, this will slow the advance of cycling and pedestrian-friendly investments.

HOWEVER, he also ran on building more bike trails than ever in Toronto's history, and even on more bike lanes where there is local support and the councillor wants it.....

Given that Case Ootes is out, and new bike friendly councillor in, in Ward 29; and other bike friendly councillors have been elected as well, all hope is far from lost.

Its worth saying that under Miller, we had many great promises about bike infrastructure, few of which actually happened.

Perhaps under FORD we will be promised far less, but actually get it what we are promised.

(about a wash)

FORD may try to rule with an iron-fist, but its unlikely that will go anywhere, to get his share of mushy middle votes and even the odd hard-core lefty on an ad-hoc basis, he'll need to work with moderates.

The language will likely be more intemperate, but I'm not sure that means less good news, so much as fewer false-hopes.

Now that the dreamers are out, let's let the pragmatists make the deals we always should have been. 30km of new off-road trail per year, only 10km new bike lanes, but in key areas of the City where they will be well used and supported.

FORD gets to say 'no more suburban bike lanes' and "we cut those cyclists back to 1/3 of the bike plan", while still giving most of us, everything we ever wanted.

Time to focus and horse-trade.

At the end of the day, many here support LRT, if only cause we feel we wont' get 100km of new subway, let FORD see if he can get his 2 new subway lines, if he does, most of us won't complain, same destination, different journey.

I'll gladly give up on bike lanes on Lawrence (for now) which we weren't going to get anyway, in favour of deluxe bike lanes on Sherbourne, Queen's Quay, and harbord; and the basic variety on Donlands and Dawes.

No sulking, let's make it work.

Ha ha, roughly half of Toronto voted. Of that half, about half voted for Ford. In other words, only 25% of Toronto actually voted for Ford. 25% of voter support is not a mandate.

Moving on, Toronto doesn't need a policy-based 'war on cars', if there was one to begin with. Energy costs will do that for Toronto. Haven't you learned anything from this election? People don't vote with their heads, they vote with their wallets.

Moreover, when the same proles who chanted "Throw out the socialist bums!" begin telling the government to "Do something!" about rising energy prices, you have my permission to point and laugh and ridicule their hypocrisy.

Remember, it's a fundamental and self-evident tenant of conservative ass-hatery that the market should be let alone to do its work. I know it's against every carbon-fibre of your hippie being, but just sit back and let the market work.

The new Ward 29 councillor is thoroughly good news. I was at Mary Fragedakis' victory party, and she spoke up for bicyclists and bike lanes. It was a prominent and emphatic part of her acceptance speech.

And we don't just have Mary - with Paula Fletcher and Cathy Dandy, plus of course the MP (Layton) and MPP (Tabuns), the whole Danforth area west of Coxwell to the bridge has a full-house of friendly politicians.

This is surely the time to ramp up the campaigning with the BIAs to get them imagining how bike lanes mean business.

"In other words, only 25% of Toronto actually voted for Ford. 25% of voter support is not a mandate."

Sorry Clog but that is the saddest spin I have heard for this election. Those who do not vote surrender their vote to those who do. Ford won because he figured out a way to connect with voters. He did it so well they ignored the lies he told.

Wow! We are such an enlightened bunch that we are not above poking at someone for their size. Imagine the trouble we would be in if he were non-white.

Ford is a dumbass but that is no reason to treat him less than we ourselves who are overweight would want to be treated . Ford does so many stupid things and has shallow policies do we really need to act like 5 year olds in a sandbox?

Maybe if he was treated as more of a threat earlier on we would not have him as mayor come December 1st.

Tsck tsck Darren, don't be a reverse racist now... why don't you relax and let Rob Ford score you some oxycontin on the house.

There's always been some antipathy towards bikes and bike infrastructure here in Caronto, in contrast to some other parts of the world that did respond to energy/climate issues.
It may well be worse with Mr. Ford, but we have had some nasty precedents with what happened and didn't happen in the aftermath of the killing of Mr. Sheppard by Mr. Bryant, and also what did happen and didn't happen with Geoffrey and his being hit over a year ago. Many of the police are "carist" and now many of the politicians are too.
Smarter choices might have eased the situation - insisting/working towards full bike lanes on Jarvis (which did need to change given its tight/dangerous previous conditions) when we already have a very near and parallel facility with shit pavement might have helped poke a few motorists in the eye.
The clearer needs are for better east-west and connectivity, and smooth pavement.
And we may have to tackle Mr. Ford on his own turf ie. those mobile furnaces are subsidized - time to stop that caravy train - c. $4,200 annual avoided cost each year! and we should begin our pushback by working with our new and re-elected councillors to thwart the repudiation of the car registration tax that Mr. Ford wants, and as a compromise position, change it to charge the big pigs of weight and fuel consumption far more than the sippers or the hybrids.
We also might want to think of a Die-in or something in Nathan Philips Square on the first day of the new council regardless of weather.

if Ford gets on a bike there better be no bell on it. If there is he will have a heart attack ringing it!

SOmeone suggested that everyone going on this months Critical Mass should wear Rob Ford masks, even if they are those back of the cereal box face masks!

WHere can I get one?

Rob Ford starts out with a lot of bad baggage.

Now the good news. He knows how to listen, believes in a service-oriented government, and probably does not want to eviscerate this city solely to serve the car. Give him a chance, support any good things he plans while trashing the bad ones, and he may actually change. I get the impression that Ford actually has the capacity to learn (yes, I know, he really needs to learn, but so do most people).

John G. Spragge
Mariner, cyclist, pilot

Shades of Tooker Gomberg and his famous "Die-Ins" of past, usually held during Critical Mass!

I don't understand "die-ins" as a response to right-wing authoritarians.

It might work to shame politicians who are sympathetic, but Ford's supporters voted for him because he was going to go do battle with the downtown elites, "teach bike riders a lesson", be faster than a speeding gravy train, leap buildings in a single bound, etc.

Is rolling over in submission the right symbolic response to this? Or does it just send a message that we're vulnerable and politically weak?

The 'die-in' symbol made sense in the 60s when everyone was at risk of nuclear obliteration or death in a Vietnam swamp, but I'm not sure it's the right fit for cycling advocacy in 2010.

Huh, if you get a few hundred out for a die in that is an example of your political sway. Maybe it's melodramatic, but these people are still all there together making their voices heard.

What did you see in the election that would indicate that a die-in would have any sway with the people who voted for Ford? Those are the people after all that you need to get some sympathy from.

You would be lucky if they only demanded that Ford run over everyone in the die-in with a Smart Car. A die-in would simply not register with them.

Much more sway would be had if you had bags of money lying at the bottom of City Hall. Make it very clear how much money it costs to deal with each traffic fatality and injury. Money that comes out of the taxpayers pockets.

With Mr. Spragge's hopeful observations of Mr. Ford's listening capabilities, I think maybe his peers on Council and some others would have dim views of his learning/listening abilities vs. a high degree of bombast and bluster.
I have tried to put the new ideas of better biking on Bloor/Danforth into his head on the campaign trail, not so much for our needed bike safety, but as a cheap way of expanding the capacity of the stretched Bloor subway, and gee, he didn't seem to get it, not that others did either it seems, but there was less dismissive attitude, and Mr. Ford didn't reply to the TCAT questionnaire.
As for die-ins, maybe it's less effective, but I sense that we have less support with our legal right to actually take the lane when conditions warrant it, and it seems we need to ensure that we have respect for our health/life/rights on the roads. Maybe just fill the Council chambers with our bike helmets on in early December (7th?), and maybe try to flex muscles with all the new Councillors to thwart the removal of the car registration tax, just to push back to the new Council to make him work for his votes - he's only a single vote with 44 others!

Haha, yes Darren.. you might be right! Lets hope not, huh?

About those money bags - Quite often(or as a matter of principal) right wing candidates are very willing to fuck over the very idiots who voted for them with their anti-social policies which really favour only the wealthy... Sometimes(?) people are really a bunch of crabs in a bucket. Now if we could find some money bags of our own, we could bribe the media... er, get their attention.

.....a Smart Car?? Which foot would Ford wear this car? The right or the left foot?

Q: How many 400lb elephants can you get into a Smart Car?
A: None, if Ford is already in there!

to get a nice wide piece of masking tape, write "taxpayer" on it, stick it to my helmet, and show up at City Council. Most of us live here, which means that we pay taxes and can call for the respect Rob Ford promised all of us in his campaign.

I suspect that many of the people who voted for Rob Ford won't get that, but honestly, I believe that Rob Ford himself might. After all, Ford didn't get elected just because he said he respected taxpayers; he got elected because, in a way people understand, he walked the talk. I don't have to agree with him or his ideas to understand that.

Incidentally, Hamish, if his peers on council don't think much of his listening skills, that may have something to do with his attitude: he looks on his fellow Councilors as his fellow workers, but on the public as his and their bosses. And he has already said that he aims to serve the whole public, those who voted against him as much a those who voted for him. If we approach Rob Ford colectively saying we pay taxes, we expect respect, you made a promise we take seriously, now let's work out a way to make it happen, then I think we may find Rob Ford comes through.

John G. Spragge
Mariner, cyclist, pilot

Might be a phrase to use to highlight what our positions should be, though it may run into friction if helmets are worn into the Council chambers as the City may be tighter again about demo signs in the council chambers, and the helmets are apparently ok. Or were in the old regime.
I would hope that the right would respect numbers and studies that show a different outlook on what costs and subsidies actually are - but in circulating a set of studies showing a range of costs avoided by the car from $1,000 to c. $4,200 per car per year to the Metro level back before we was amanglemated, it wasn't really acted upon. So I don't think we can really presume that logic and niceness will penetrate into the carcooned consciousness - look at how slow we are to show women equity - there is persistence to privilege within the status quo, and looking at the map in the Star this morning, the older and more car-driving suburbs voted for Mr. Ford, and the old core voted for Mr. Smitherman.
So along with working with new/existing councillors and thinking of a presence on Dec. 7th, and trying to thwart the first item of Mr. Ford's agenda, the car registration tax, we should also be thinking of working on the provincial politicians as this is fall-out from the forcible amanglemating Harris foisted upon us.
Key to any campaign seems to be a pithy slogan - a cycling taxpayer, not a target might be clearer, but there is a real depth of "carism" that will keep us as targets. despite laws and many good and considerate drivers.

I don't think we can win the battle over the (city) car registration fee. Frankly, I don't even know if we should try, for two reasons: first, it hits different city residents differently. Someone with two kids in the Annex or Christie or Dufferin Grove or Yonge and Eg has a good shot at getting by with one or no cars; someone with kids living in certain parts of North York, Etobicoke or Scarborough has to deal with an urban infrastructure that assumes all adults will drive. And as it turns out, this city has a demographic profile that turns the American one on its head: in Toronto, the poor tend to live in the outer suburbs (think Jane/Finch), while wealthier people tend to live downtown. Secondly, I seriously doubt a sixty dollar fee actually keeps any cars off the road, but it does add to the sense of entitlement felt by many drivers. I agree that we should make our presence felt, make the point that with or without the registration fee we the cyclists subsidize drivers by paying for facilities we do not use, but I suggest it might make sense to let it go at that.

John G. Spragge
Mariner, cyclist, pilot

$60 for a registration tax ain't much - and we'd be really unwise to let it just go "poof" without any! resistance/defence of it. I should know just how many millions it brings in - what are there? - a million cars in Caronto = $60M - and that's the Bike Plan being done, even though the cost of doing a bike lane repainting is only $25,000 a km.
Mr. Ford's agenda isn't a slamdunk - eg. the Sat. Star today - and to roll over ahead of something that is less than the cost of a single month's Metropass isn't defensible really. And truly, given how much and how many harms the collective automobility of Toronto costs us, and how little direct user pay there is to the City for the many costs, $60 isn't much.
If they want to tweak it to a weight/footprint basis - that could be a compromise.

The car registration will be gone. No matter how much anyone thinks they can talk sense to the senseless about senselessness.

If you want something like this to stay you have to talk in Ford's language. Replacing the car registration would sound something like this.

Most of the increase in the use of cars in Toronto comes from people living outside of Toronto. Place rush hour inbound tolls on roads coming into Toronto well inside major mass transit hubs (so a toll would be around South Kingsway to allow people to get to Kipling Station without charge) Target only those who live in Ontario but outside Toronto.

At less than $5. day per car you would earn enough money to make up for the lost car registration fees in one month. The rest of the money could be split between transit and repairing roads. All of the money would be earned from people who do not pay taxes in Toronto but use its infrastructure quite extensively. Tourists, transit users and people going downtown to enjoy clubs and shows would not be targeted.

The car registration will be gone. No matter how much anyone thinks they can talk sense to the senseless about senselessness.

If you want something like this to stay you have to talk in Ford's language. Replacing the car registration would sound something like this.

Most of the increase in the use of cars in Toronto comes from people living outside of Toronto. Place rush hour inbound tolls on roads coming into Toronto well inside major mass transit hubs (so a toll would be around South Kingsway to allow people to get to Kipling Station without charge) Target only those who live in Ontario but outside Toronto.

At less than $5. day per car you would earn enough money to make up for the lost car registration fees in one month. The rest of the money could be split between transit and repairing roads. All of the money would be earned from people who do not pay taxes in Toronto but use its infrastructure quite extensively. Tourists, transit users and people going downtown to enjoy clubs and shows would not be targeted.

I do tend to agree that it's sensible to be charging something for the incoming traffic that uses and abuses our infrastructure Darren, but unfortunately Ms. Thompson didn't stick around to keep the issue on the table, and also the province has ruled out a bit of direct user pay - like the TTC or the Island Ferry - in the form of tolls. And I doubt that the caraven at Queen's Parking Lot will alienate the suburban block that clearly voted for Mr. Ford ahead of their looming election.
So it returns to tolls - and can we afford a $60M hole in our budget?
Sure, I'm prone to tilting at windshields eg. Bloor, but to cave in on this one right away only paves the way for Mr. Ford's agenda, and we need to pressure our Councillors, because he may not have the votes! That includes outlying areas and voices like yours Darren.

Hamish, no Toronto resident would pay a toll. Whether they live downtown or in north east Scarborough. This would target only cars registered outside of the City of Toronto.

You can spend the next four years fighting Ford or you can find ways to do things that is palatable to everyone. Miller got seven years and we got what out of it? A last minute rush on Jarvis.

Car registration does next to nothing in reducing the use of cars. Non resident tolls would go a long way in bringing some sanity to rush hours.

On streetcars:
Doug Ford is not only saying that they are not on the chopping block, but also claiming that Ford's team never said they were (though it's on page 2 of their transit plan).

On attitudes towards cyclists:
Could you consistently follow one set of rules, please! I rent a car maybe once a month and in the short drive from the rental agency to my house, it is always the bikers, not the cars that cause the most stress. Dodging in and out of crosswalks, going on and off of sidewalks, blowing through four-way stops and giving me the finger for thinking that they should obey the rules of the road... come on!

It's worse as a pedestrian. Expecting the right of way on a sidewalk, not stopping at streetcar stops, etc.

I support more bikelanes and the bike rental system, but I just loathe many of the people who use them. Also, wear a damn helmet. Your healthcare is my taxes.

Pretty sure pedestrians are the worst at disobeying the rules, try riding a bicycle and not hitting j-walkers, sure those pedestrians are looking for cars don't get me started about car doors... I only wish pedestrians and motorists would follow one set of rules. Instead they honk or swear when I legally have the right of way. It's like they think they're the most important ones on the road.

It's our healthcare and it comes from our taxes. Your taxes wouldn't buy coffee for donuts for the hospital lobby meetings.

Hamish: The question of whether we should fight to keep the city part of the car registration fee has two parts for me, an ethical aspect and a pragmatic aspect. As an ethical question, to people in the outlying areas of Toronto for whom a car comes close to a practical necessity, the car registration fee comes close to a head tax, the least progressive form of taxation possible. I have a real problem defending a fee that requires the same amount of money from the owners of hummers, tricked out racing cars, and somebody who straps their kids into a '99 civic to get them to daycare before going to work. If we want to restructure society to reduce car use, I suggest we have a long way to go before we need to hit those people. The pragmatic question falls into two categories. First, I don't see an advantage in the fee for cyclists. Anything that increases the sunk costs of operating a car over a year gives users more of an incentive to make every trip a car trip. If we want to reduce car usage, we need to focus on increasing cost recovery with each individual use. Ideally, this would come in the form of a congestion charge, but a registration fee of sixty dollars only fuels resentment by car users. I honestly doubt that by itself the car registration fee has taken a single car off Toronto streets. I have another pragmatic question: how far do we want to go to fight the results of this election? How far do we want to accept that Rob Ford won, and the residents of this city want him to proceed with at least some of his programs? I think I have already made my suggestion plain: accept he won, and understand that we can argue for most of what we want on the terms Rob Ford's campaign has set out. We pay taxes; he's promised us respect. He has no business taking what we pay for a clean safe city and putting it towards streets the city won't allow us to use with at least some measure of safety.

Frequent pedestrian/occassional driver: let's treat drivers, cyclists and pedestrians as individuals, shall we? I promise not to tar all pedestrians with the, um, Darwin-award mentality of the person wandering down the Annette bike lanes while eating a banana, or the people I see staring glazed-eyed at video games while standing in College Street. No, most pedestrians in this city behave intelligently and prudently. And, besides, I haven't always set an example for excellence afoot. Likewise, when motorists barrel through crosswalks, or buzz my bike and I in the streets, or start beating on their horns the moment they see me in the lane ahead, I tell myself that I haven't always acted as a monument to driving perfection, either. I certainly don't say @%$#!! all @*&^#%! drivers.

I would say to my fellow cyclists: we have the potential to set an example of real excellence when we cycle. When we drive (as I and some other cyclists here do) we can never achieve excellence; the damage we do to the environment and to our own bodies rules that out. But when we cycle, we can achieve genuine excellence. Let's not give that up by annoying pedestrians and our fellow cyclists.

John G. Spragge
Mariner, cyclist, pilot

Nice points, but I see the car registration as more of a usage fee than a selective head tax. Motorists cause damage to infrastructure, and the money helps the city pay those repair bills.

Are you cyclists dealing with a full deck? Seriously.
You want to ban cars from Canada. But did someone drop you on your head when your came out of your mothers birth canal?
You expect everyone in the city to start riding the TTC so that the roads are left for you.

I pray to God, that Rob Ford forces all cyclists to pass a road drivers test like us car owners have to, as well as pay for a license & license plate and insurance, for you to drive on the road and also for you to display that license for all to see as we car owner have to do.

That way, when you do not obey the driving on the road protocol, witnesses can jot down your license plate and report you.

You want to drive on the road, yet you do not want to take the responsibility for road safety.
You just weave in and out all over the place expecting car drivers to just slam on their brakes to accommodate you. Roads are for cars not cyclists.....period!

You see that a driver is opening is car door and yet you refuse to stop, instead you scream out at us & we have to bow to you! If a car stops on the road, the car behind also has to stop.
Why should you be the exception to the same rules that apply to car drivers.

Our mandatory car fees contribute to the community. WTF do you contribute?
Seems to me, cyclists cycle simply bcos they can't afford a car. I'll bet my life that if someone gave you a swanky, sleeks hot rod, you would be tearing up the road in it. Taking out you date in fine clothes to a wonderful show & dinner. Picking up your mom & dad for a visit or a trip around town. Or just doing their major grocery shopping for them. Or driving them to their doctor or hospital app'ts.
Try doing that on you bikes!

You want to ban me & ALL car owners, you make no sense at all, you have no life and you don't hold down jobs where proper attire is a must. Your thinking is irrational & illogical. The only reason you cyclists got this far is bcos the politicians wanted your vote.

Car owners are fed up with all of this. It's time to start a petition to force our government to impose the same road tests, licenses & insurances that we have to be subjected to. It's time you learned proper road behaviour. You want the road, then it's time you pay for it like we do!

Wow that's a lot to get of your chest Missy.

I hope you feel better now.

But if you don't you could always leave you car at home at try cycling - it works for me.

It's spelled 'licence' in this country, troll.

This is not true. Cars are subsidized by various governments from the time the iron ore is mined, through the entire manufacturing process, consumer purchase, and maintenance, not to mention the oil it takes to run them. Add to this bill the societal costs of car culture--pollution, ill health (to drivers and anyone who breathes air), road damage, vehicular homicides-- that are downloaded onto the taxpaying public, and the bill is clearly even more in the red. In reality, cars are some of the biggest welfare queens on the planet.

Just because you pay a lot to drive doesn't mean you're paying full price.

...and you're certainly not supporting me or my community. In fact, it's quite the opposite.

You're welcome.

I'm closing this thread. Missy's comment is border-line offensive, but given the even-handed responses from other commenters I think it's worth keeping up as a reminder of the kind of simple-minded, self-righteousness that emanates out a segment of the public. Their talking points are as follows:

Cyclists are downtown elitists.

Except for all the cyclists who aren't - almost half of cyclists live and work outside the core.

All cyclists bike because they can't afford cars.

I don't believe that even a lot of people who do own cars can truly "afford" them. Given that there are doctors, lawyers, businessmen, politicians and professors biking to work this line of thinking doesn't hold any water. People bike because they choose to bike. The biggest reasons people usually give are: exercise, fun, relaxing, and quick.

Car drivers are subsidizing cyclists.

As others pointed out above, the registration fees and the gas taxes don't cover the full costs to society that private automobiles impose. City streets are paid out of property taxes so everyone ends up subsidizing drivers' private automobile choices.

We all subsidize the health care costs imposed by private automobiles: asthma, collisions, toxins, obesity and diabetes. We all suffer the loss of green space, farm land and natural resources paved under by car-induced sprawl.

You can't get anywhere useful on a bike

Missy might be just feeling sore because they are trying to justify to themselves how they could have gotten sucked into forking over $8000 a year to drive around. I feel that I've been smart enough to have a modest place to live within biking distance of work so that I am free to take a streetcar, taxi or rental car when the bike doesn't make sense. I can even sign up for car-sharing if I need a car more regularly. I save most of that money that Missy is spending on their car. I don't need to be a schmuck just because the car company marketing departments want me to buy into conspicuous consumption.

Cyclists don't follow the rules of the road

It's a rare day that I see a car put on their turn signal; that I see them shoulder-check to make sure its clear before turning; that they stay within the speed limit on downtown or residential streets; that they don't get angry at a cyclist when they are just going to be stuck in a traffic jam anyway; that they come to a complete stop behind the white line on a residential street.

I don't see much reason to look towards most drivers for mentorship. If anything it's probably those drivers who also bike a lot on downtown streets who are the most considerate. I know I am a lot more aware of pedestrians, cyclists and other cars when I drive. And in downtown Toronto I no longer get anxious or angry just because there's a traffic jam. I am also very careful before opening the car door because I know a last minute opening could mean life or death to someone else. That's just the reality of driving in a city. We should be going slow and just maybe we'll save a life that way.