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.
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.