city hall

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.

Vote today for a more livable Toronto

A few of the mainstream mayoral candidates (notably Rob Ford, Rocco Rossi) have tried to gain votes on the divisiveness of our transportation problems. Some like Ford have decided to fall definitely on the side of automobiles instead of transit, cycling and walking. Others, such as Smitherman, have decided to go some kind of compromise route.

It still amazes me that so many drivers are so focused on some sort of "mobility right" for automobiles that they won't even consider the overwhelming problems of climate change, air pollution, obesity, loss of habitat, asthma, pedestrian/cyclist deaths and even the death of drivers. Instead, so many of us have gotten used to this "new normal".

Let's get beyond that. I know you know there is a better world. Let's recognize that we all gain from a Toronto where we can breathe more easily.

Beyond the rhetoric: Sarah Thomson presents realistic bike plan

Allow bikes on the road and even make it safer and easier for them on the road? As one of the main frontrunners for the mayor's seat, Sarah Thomson had first bucked the trend of playing it safe by proposing road tolls to pay for public transit, and now she's come out with a real bike plan, cheekily called "Bike City". This is a breath of fresh air. Rossi, Ford and copy-cat Smitherman have taken to pretending that commuter cyclists don't exist and hope that they'll shut up if they build a handful of trails that haven't already been built. In a time when people like Ford like to shit on the things that work, like streetcars and bike lanes, this is a welcome change to the rhetoric of the "war on cars":

We've all heard the terms "War on the Car" and "War on Bikes". I am tired of those terms being used to cover politicians' inabilities to come up with and implement a viable plan for shared road use.

Cars, motorcycles, cyclists, and pedestrians all use the same roads. Toronto needs to have a plan to make the roads safe and useable for anyone who has a right to use them.

Bike City is a reasonable proposal to lay the foundation for a strong cycling community in Toronto. I envision a Toronto where even a complete novice can pick up a bike and ride safely and easily from their front door to their place of work.

BIXI Toronto reaches 500 members almost a year before it launches

BIXI Toronto memberships have reached 500 as of September 1st! This is a reason to celebrate! Why? Despite news reports suggesting this is a "lukewarm response", we are still nine months before the launch date and 3 months before the requirement to get 1000 memberships. They've also made the threshold high by only selling yearly memberships - the monthly memberships would have allowed many more people to dip their toes in the water before diving in.

City Hall made it quite difficult for bikesharing to get off the ground: they're providing no money to get it started, and even to get a loan guarantee (which only allows BIXI to get a better interest rate from private banks) City Hall made a number of harsh requirements. BIXI Toronto has reached the half-way mark after only one month out of 4 months.

With a bit perspective we can see that this is in fact remarkable that BIXI Toronto already has 500 members and over 1300 fans on the Facebook page. It's clearly popular. What other company selling a product requires that people purchase the product a year before it comes out? Only Apple fans would be crazy enough to do that.

Mayoral Candidate HiMY SYeD to share 'Vision 2020 - BikeCity' at Bike Joint Sept 1

Here is the first serious platform presentation on cycling by Mayoral Candidate HiMY SYeD. It's a shame that all the mainstream candidates have only excreted patronizing and dangerous platforms. We are still waiting on Sarah Thompson's platform which might take cyclists a bit more seriously than the likes of Rossi, Smitherman, while anything is better than Ford's vision of cyclists giving up on cycling altogether else lest they take their lives in their own hands. You'd think that these guys had never been on a bike or been around cyclists.

Well done Himy.

"Vision 2020 - Another Toronto IS Possible" - Mobility - BikeCity

Toronto Mayoral Candidate HiMY SYeD has informally been sharing his BikeCity Vision with cyclists and the wider community since May 25 2010, the beginning of his Campaign in becoming The Peoples' Mayor.

' BikeCity ' is a key component in his integrated overall 10 year direction of hope in Toronto: ' Vision 2020 - Another Toronto IS Possible '.

' Vision 2020 ' is defined in three broad themes - Mobility, Sustainability, Identity.

The ' Vision 2020 ' theme of Mobility begins with ' BikeCity '.

The complete Mobility theme within Vision2020 will be expanded upon and shared later in mid-September.

Soon to see the lion on BIXI Toronto bikes: ING DIRECT announced as primary sponsor

ING Direct Canada's lion will appear on the BIXI Toronto bikes next spring, as they've signed on as the primary sponsor of the bikesharing program. Mayor Miller and Public Bike System Company reps announced ING this morning.

“Public bike systems like BIXI can significantly reduce the cost of commuting and make a healthy impact on our cities and our lives,” said Peter Aceto, President and CEO of ING DIRECT Canada. “We are always excited to help Canadians save their money so being a part of bringing BIXI to the Toronto community is a great fit for ING DIRECT.”

No word on what percentage of the sponsorship needed is being provided by ING, though I was assured it was a substantial proportion. BIXI Toronto is required to raise $600,000 for each of the next three years.

In related news, ING Direct has also sponsored the custom painted, Toronto Cyclists Union bike giveaway. Is it a coincidence that this Dutch company is supporting cycling in a big way?

Major mayoral candidates are douches to cyclists

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):

  1. build physical separation of existing bike lanes
  2. "expedite" bike "expressways" through hydro corridors and ravines

My responses:

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