In case you haven't noticed, it's an election year in Toronto, and right-wing candidate Rossi in a bid to win some right-wing votes has made some bold statements about stopping unsafe and environmentally unsound bike lanes.
Rossi doesn't want bike lanes on arterial roads like University, Bloor and Jarvis. But apparently he's a big fan of bike lanes all the same, so long as they are only installed where they aren't needed: on cul-de-sacs and quiet residential streets, apparently.
“I’m not only OK with bike lanes, I’m a big fan,” Rossi said. “I do believe in an expanded bike lane network, but we need to do it on a grid basis and we need to use safer routes to travel.”
He’d prefer to have a fact-based discussion about bike lanes rather than a mud-slinging fight, and base it on getting everyone around the city safely and quickly.
Of course, Rossi isn't engaging in some sort of urban planning, based on studies and reason; he's engaging in vote winning and he's willing to say whatever it takes. Rossi is trying to shape the conversation with a "father knows best" approach: "You poor cyclists, why do you want to risk yourselves on the all those fast cars? Those city planners are so irresponsible by trying to put bike lanes there instead of quiet side roads."
Needless to say, Rossi doesn't need to bother investigate just where these side streets are. I'm sure there are plenty of cyclists who would like quiet streets, but they are usually impossible as through routes, or cyclists just need to shop, visit friends, go to work on major arterials. Rossi's solution exists only to appease suburban drivers.
Hume, from the Star:
Rossi, a neo-conservative and former Liberal Party fundraiser, has made no secret of his belief that Toronto will ride to its glorious future on a high-speed multi-lane highway free of bike lanes and walkers.
"I am calling for any further work on this project (Jarvis) to be suspended until the people of Toronto have spoken on Oct. 25," Rossi said this week. It is, he declared, "a clear affront to democracy and to the voters of Toronto."
Rossi's constituency is made up of people whose lifestyles are threatened by changes ahead, whether that means cutting greenhouse gases or closing a lane of Jarvis. It's okay, Rossi wants them to know, you can carry on as you always have, just bury your head a little deeper in that sand and don't forget to vote for me.
There's nothing new about the politics of middle-class disgruntlement.
This type of politics reminds me of the driver who once angrily yelled at me that he was "a cyclist too", as he proceeded to drive me off the road. My error was in 'taking the lane' as championed by the safe cyclists of CAN-BIKE (and the police, at least officially).*
You're a cyclist? Well, in that case, please feel free to run me off the road with your car. Who needs enemies when you have friends like this?
- Taking the lane, in fact, is often useful, but it can at times draw the ire of drivers. Thus, one might not want to attempt this manoeuvre when one suspects angry drivers nearby.