The origins and politics of Minnan-Wong's bike lane plan

Like me, perhaps you are wondering why a right-wing politician who had helped to push the "war on the car" meme on the public, had opposed separated bike lanes on University Ave and opposed the Jarvis bike lanes, is now supporting a separated bike lane network for downtown Toronto. It may help to get a bit more of the background.

Alan Heisey pointed out in my previous post that the Toronto Star map and information is incorrect. Heisey's original proposal, which looked like the map attached, also included separated bike lanes to Bathurst and Parliament on Harbord and on Richmond as well as bike lanes extended north of Bloor.

2010: a year of extremes for cycling

The city has saved me some trouble from having to do my own research by compiling all the things that they've done this last year. Before I reveal it all, let me list the things that I can remember about 2010:

  • Ten years later survey by the City - The survey found that cycling has become more popular, confirming many of our thoughts. What we didn't realize was the bigger increase in the suburbs.
  • bike corral at 215 Spadina - I made a point of parking my bike in the corral. It was a good feeling that I was respected enough to be given roomy parking in a space previously occupied by a private automobile.
  • Big bike chain sign in Kensington. It's a nice touch that combines utility and branding for this entrance to Kensington Market. My gripe still remains that it is too far away from all the action. Most cyclists don't use it because it's not right in front of the places they frequent.
  • Re-launch of the Ward Advocacy Program of the Toronto Cyclists Union. This was a defining moment - the room at the Brickworks was packed with 80+ people. It was not just a social event like other bike union events, but rather the energy of the room was focused on getting things done locally. We got lots of good ideas from the speakers, city planner Al Rezoski, Dale Duncan former assistant to Councillor Adam Vaughan, bike union founder Dave Meslin. Since then a few ward groups have formed, in particular Wards 18,19, and 20 have met and are now well on the way of making things happen locally.

Downtown separated bike lanes plan: Minnan-Wong makes it his own

Courtesy of Toronto StarCourtesy of Toronto Star

Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong, who only recently learned how to ride a bike through CAN-Bike, has sprung on the public a plan to build a small network of separated bike lane downtown.

Minnan-Wong's plan, however, didn't appear in a vision to him. Last winter the Toronto Cycling Advisory Committee advised that Lower Sherbourne get separated bike lanes to coincide with the road resurfacing, as recommended by lawyer Alan Heisey and the Toronto Cyclists Union. The two then presented in August a petition calling for a plan to the public works committee, the same committee of which Minnan-Wong is now chair. In the petition the request was for filling in the gaps and separating a number of these lanes (see full petition):

  1. Connect the Simcoe Street bicycle lanes to the St George Beverley Street bicycle lanes via John Street and Richmond Street West so there is a continuous north-south bicycle lane route west of the core connecting Bloor Street to the Lake.

A dramatic reading: Don "Pinko" Cherry's "Speech"

Thanks Tino!

Best quote:

Actually I'm wearing pink for all the pinkos out there riding bicycles and everything. I thought I'd get it in. What'd ya expect, Ron McLean, here? To come here?

You know, I'm befuddled, because I thought I was doing a good thing, coming down with Ron - Rob - and I was gonna do this hear, and it was going to be nice and the whole deal.

Everybody has been so focused on the "pinkos on bicycles" part that they forgot that Dan - I mean Don - Cherry also has a problem with pinkos riding "everything". Just stay at home pinkos and you won't piss Don off - he doesn't even want to see you in a car.

Pink bike peace offering for Cherry's pinko comment

Courtesy of Globe and MailCourtesy of Globe and Mail

This week "pit bull" Don Cherry was invited to Mayor Ford's swearing-in ceremony and made a speech that went like this "blah, blah... wearing pinko for all the pinkos out there that ride bicycles and everything ...blah blah". Ford later claimed not to know what Cherry was going to say. All the same you could see that Ford wanted to give Cherry a big hug.

In response people started producing pinko buttons and t-shirts. And now Toronto bike shop Curbside is offering a custom painted pink Pashley bicycle to Don Cherry - an ironic slight wrapped up in a peace offering package. Velocolour will be doing the custom painting. Cherry will have to come in person to pick up the bicycle so the Curbside crew can have a latte with the brain-addled celebrity.

Pink Pashley as imaginedPink Pashley as imagined

So we’d like to take a little egg off your face and allow you to (literally) do a bit of backpedalling. We’d like to give you a bicycle. In a blushing shade of ironic pink, this bike will be customized to your own remarkable style. The bike will be a Pashley from the United Kingdom, a company that has been producing real city bikes for 80 years, and the details will be custom painted by Noah Rosen of Velocolour. We’re asking the city to choose their favorite Don Cherry pattern (below) whether it be be a Plaid, a floral, or what-have-you.

Go to Curbside's blog to vote for a pattern!

An open letter from Mez to Don Cherry: stop being an asshole to cyclists

Dave Meslin has written an open letter to Don Cherry, after his disparaging remarks aimed at cyclists at the inauguration of Toronto's new city council, where Cherry said "I’m wearing pinko for all the pinkos out there who ride bicycles". I'm posting Meslin's letter here since it is currently only available on Facebook (put it up on your blog, Dave!):

Dear Don,

Congratulations on being chosen to introduce Mayor Ford on his first day at City Council. It's quite an honour.

I think it's unfortunate that you used the opportunity to be divisive and fan the flames of partisan politics at City Hall. What our city needs, and wants, is a collaborative approach to decision making that attempts to take into account different perspectives and opinions.

Today's meeting was not just the first meeting for our new Mayor, but also the first meeting for our new City Council - all 44 members who represent the City just as much as Mayor Ford. Those 44 Councillors represent a wide variety of opinions, reflecting the political diversity of Toronto. Your comments, at their meeting, with their friends and families present in the room, was incredibly rude. Or, since you you like to talk like a "straight shooter", let me just say that you behaved like an asshole.

Red light running: the war on people

Warning: this video is graphic in its portrayal of the "war on cars".

If only these drivers were licensed! Oh wait. I can't believe just how many of the red light runners aren't slowing down at all. See scary, graphic video

MTV digs into the car/bike animosity on Vicious Cycle

In a very quick discussion, MTV's Vicious Cycle forum skims over a bunch of issues around cyclists and drivers sharing the road. By the end it feels like they've managed to mention all the issues and stereotypes without actually engaging on any of them. I do like the argument partway through between the courier and the taxi driver when the taxi driver claims to know as much about cycling as courier because he bikes about 3 times a month - precious. What we've learned:

  • cyclists: angry
  • motorists: scared
  • we all need to pay attention (oh really?! I wish I had thought of that already)
  • bike lanes are cheap
  • there's no political will (or even a very active backlash)
  • we're supposed to "share the road" (whatever that means: do we share it according to need or want?)
  • Sunny is a funny, crazy bike courier (love her quote about putting the safety on the gun before going out on the road)

Admirable that MTV is tackling this just before winter - usually the media dredges up the war of bikes versus cars in the spring.

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