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cityscape

Bring Back the War on the Car

Toronto needs warriors to fight for cyclists, pedestrians, and the life of the city.

Photo by Flickr user Sweet One.

Whatever happened to the War on the Car? I miss it. And I struggle to accept the fact that one madman’s election has really put an end to that great cause. But when I sift through the current campaign material published by his would-be successors, I can barely detect even a whiff of the old fighting spirit.

The word “bicycle” would qualify in that respect. But the only candidate who so much as mentions that most controversial conveyance on his website is Richard Underhill, an accomplished jazz musician who is currently ruining his promising second career as a fringe candidate by taking it seriously. And even this recently de-bearded downtowner is soft-pedalling [sic] the cause, promising a Tory-esque compromise to build bike lanes “with minimal effect on parking or traffic flow.” The usual squared circle of political promiseland, in other words.

Olivia Chow’s website is garlanded with beauty shots, but not one shows her aboard the bicycle that was once her calling card—perhaps it was considered too provocative to Ford Nation and has been quietly rusticated. Her rivals are uniformly dedicated to keeping motorists happy. None of the four has had a word to say about protecting pedestrians or calming the city’s increasingly deadly traffic. The evidence so far says that when it comes to dealing with the critical issue of safe streets, Ford has them all cowed.

And the cars have not failed to press their advantage. In 2011, they managed to kill about 20 pedestrians and cyclists—and far more of the former than the latter. Last year, they killed twice as many. Altogether, there were more traffic fatalities than homicides in Toronto last year. And so far, there isn’t a single mayoral candidate who appears to have a problem with that.

That silence in the face of an obvious crisis is all the more remarkable when one considers what’s happening in the real world outside Ford Nation—most recently in New York, to pick a favourite comparator, where unabashed progressive Bill de Blasio won a landslide victory to replace outgoing Mayor Michael Bloomberg, thanks in no small part to his bold plan to eliminate traffic fatalities in New York by 2020. Modelled on a Swedish initiative, de Blasio’s Vision Zero policy is the boldest fightback against the car any city on this continent has ever attempted.

Building on the impressive bike-lane and traffic-calming initiatives of the former mayor’s famous transportation czarina, Janette Sadik-Khan, the new policy puts New York streets far ahead of Toronto’s.

The most telling symbol of Toronto’s timidity is the ubiquitous “sharrow”—the not-quite bike lane denoted by pictures of bicycles with forward-pointing chevrons painted on the street. What does it even mean?

The question came to me abruptly one day from the mouth of a tourist in a car waiting at a light beside me on Spadina. “Does that mean I can’t drive there?” he asked, leaning across his front seat and pointing at the bicycle pictures in the lane ahead. The light was about to change, so I had to think quickly, and for a second the deep ambiguity of the sharrow confounded me. But just as suddenly, I realized the bare truth, which is all the tourist needed to know. “No, that means you can drive there,” I explained. “A picture of a bicycle on a lane in Toronto means, ‘Drive here.’”

He was happy for the explanation, leaving me to contemplate the absurdity of it.

I know how it happened. For years, the city was happy to paint bike lanes anywhere so long as they never displaced any parking or motor traffic. As soon as these lanes arrived at an intersection—or a row of parked cars or any number of other car-related disruptions—they disappeared. Toronto’s bizarrely discontinuous non-network of bike lanes lures cyclists into a protected zone only to throw them into the maelstrom. It was and remains embarrassing. Hence the inscrutable sharrow. Being useless if not dangerous to cyclists and meaningless to drivers, its sole purpose is to cover bureaucratic butt. It is the perfect symbol of a city where nobody wants to make a hard choice.

The hard lesson from New York and dozens of progressive European cities is that you can’t make gains for cyclists, pedestrians, and the life of the city as a whole without restricting car use—removing lanes, widening sidewalks, lowering speed limits, and redesigning intersections. And as JSK and others have proven, that is not a politics for wimps: we need warriors.

Comments

  • dsmithhfx

    +1, awesome!

  • Etobilocal

    There shouldn’t be a war on any one specific group, bikes, cars or pedestrians. A large percentage in all three groups need better education on the rules of the road not favouritism.

    • Anonymous416

      How about we let each person use about the same amount of street space. What could be more fair, equitable or without favoritism?

      http://google.com/search?q=Knoflacher+Gehzeug+walkmobile&tbm=isch

      Oh wait, I just restarted the war on the car, my bad.

      • bobloblawbloblawblah

        Rob Ford wants to have a word with you. He’s very upset.

      • Etobilocal

        I think you’re missing my point. I am talking about better educating these groups about road safety. Of course cars will always take up more space. I cycle to work everyday and the space is not really the issue. It’s the self entitled, holier than thou drivers and cyclist that are causing the problems.

        • Anonymous416

          If you want to look at it like a soap opera, then sure, blame individuals. That approach won’t solve anything though – for every person educated, the world can supply infinite rude people.

          The solution is complete streets that have transit (for peoplemoving capacity), good side/crosswalks (for everyone to walk), protected bike lanes (for fast,short trips), and car lanes (for the disabled, trucks, contractors).

          The problem is that any changes that remove curbside car parking or car lanes brings out the reactionaries crying about the ‘war on the car’.

          It’s not about behavior. It’s about space on the road.

      • The Man With No Name

        I’d love to have as much space as a car but I don’t need it since a bicycle takes up 1/3 to 1/2 of the space of a car. They need more room. What we do need are bike lanes with two lanes: a slow lane, and a fast/passing lane.

      • nevilleross

        Don’t apologize, you’re right.

    • https://paul.kishimoto.name/ Paul Kishimoto

      When pedestrians screw up badly, they die.
      When drivers screw up badly, pedestrians die.

      But God forbid we take steps to protect pedestrians, because that’s “favouritism”.

      • Etobilocal

        Where did you read in my comment I don’t care for the protection of pedestrians or cyclists??

        • https://paul.kishimoto.name/ Paul Kishimoto

          “Better education” will help, but it’s the least effective approach, because it relies on drivers being alert, awake, sober, and not distracted—so they can remember and apply what they learned.

          It doesn’t, in short, do anything to them that would be construed as an inconvenience, such as forcing them to slow down. “War on the Car” rhetoric is entirely based on exaggerating such perceived inconveniences. The rhetoric is irresponsible, and is designed to discourage approaches that we know will be effective.

          Those will be changes which actually affect drivers’ (and pedestrians’ and cyclists’) behaviour, whether they’re well-educated or not, and keep pedestrians and cyclist alive even if drivers screw up.

          • Etobilocal

            “keep pedestrians and cyclist alive even if drivers screw up.” I love how the blame is put souly on one group. So the pedestrians that are too lazy to walk five meters to the crosswalk and hops out from between parked cars or the cyclist that is too good to stop for a red light or a flashing crosswalk. They aren’t doing anything wrong??

          • tyrannosaurus_rek

            Education isn’t going to stop someone who thinks they can make it from attempting to jaywalk, physical barriers will. Education isn’t going to stop a driver from turning without looking for a cyclist or pedestrian, changes to the layout of the street will.

            It really isn’t about who is doing something wrong – and, it seems, deserves to die for it – it’s about reducing the opportunities for something to go wrong, and hopefully the consequences (injury and death) stacked against people not wrapped in a tonne of steel.

          • Etobilocal

            Sadly putting up barriers won’t really change anything either. For example that barrier on Bay, I beleive, to stop people from jaywalking out of Union station to the other side. Doesn’t really work.

          • tyrannosaurus_rek

            Putting up “barriers” that can be easily walked around or through or stepped over won’t work, you’re right.

    • JanMac

      Yes, sharing is the way to go, but the car has precedence. We, yes all of us, have to break that priority in order to give everyone their fair share. Calling the revolution the war on the car shows that it won’t be easy.

    • John Spragge

      Talking about a war on cars is redundant. We have no need for a war on cars; their manifold deficiencies as transportation engineering solutions will, in the absence of massive subsidies and privileges, cause users to take a less careless approach to the use of the car, and to select other modes of transportation when it suits their needs. We could call it defunding an unheathy indulgence, but I prefer a more punchy phrase: putting the brakes on the gravymobile.

  • bobloblawbloblawblah

    ““A picture of a bicycle on a lane in Toronto means, ‘Drive here.’”

    Sadly, there is much truth to this. I feel it’s going to be a long time before Toronto brings in forward thinking legislation such as New York’s Vision Zero. There seems to be a real inertia around doing anything progressive in this town.

    • mixandserve

      Sigh. I used to commute the entire length of Spadina, and I remember the day they erased the bike lane line from either side of Spadina.(literally ground it right off the asphalt). A couple of quick calls to two Councillors confirmed it wasn’t a mistake. Worse, “sharrows” would replace them.

      I immediately voiced my concerns because –as anyone who cycles Spadina will attest– it’s busy, it’s fast, it has a lot of tourists, and sees SO many motorists and cyclists entering and exiting at so many intersections, so i couldn’t fathom how sharrows might work.

      However, I was told that the new sharrows would work because the traffic would flow much the same as before, but just “together but safely apart”. Skeptical, I decided to wait-and-see. I wish I hadn’t. I wish I’d yelled City Council down.

      Now Spadina is extremely dangerous, with cars barreling past me not 1-2 feet off my handlebar. Some days I’m forced to take the lane just to ensure I’m not sideswiped. Motorists may seethe at that admission, but I’d rather have a driver angrily honking behind me and know where he is, than have a car roaring past my elbow and me without any time to react/get out of the way, and you would too if you cycled daily.

      Please, everyone…when in doubt, take the lane (at traffic speed, of course) and hold it. For your own safety, I can’t stress that enough. TAKE
      THE LANE.

      And Council? Grow some damn balls, willya? Plant a flag in this issue and make this City not just bike-friendly or bike-forward, but bike-adoring. Bike-SMITTEN.

      There IS room for all of us to co-exist…but first we need parity, which means Council is going to have to rise from its 3+ year absence from this file and start fighting for the constituents that placed you on Council in the first place.

      For everyone who is passionate about this issue, don’t bother going after the councilors who are perennially anti-cycling, they’re a lost cause. We need to leverage the Councillors who are completely on-board like Doucette, Perks, Layton, Bailao, Vaughan, McConnell, Fletcher, McMahon and Mihevic–they need to be reminded which way their bread is buttered.

      We don’t need a War on the Car…but we DO need a war on the War On Cycling.

      • HotDang

        Those were never bike lanes. They were lines of white paint next to the gutter. There were no bike lane markings or signs, and it wasn’t on the bike map. The paint was nowhere near far enough from the curb to constitute a bike lane. I don’t know how you’d think those were bike lanes.

        • mixandserve

          Yes, they weren’t “real” bikes lanes, they were only 2 ft. wide. But at least cars stayed on the other side of the line. So, for all intents and purposes, they were lanes.

          And hey, I’d rather be cramped in those two feet and alive than splitting hairs over what constitutes a bike lane and be crushed in a sharrow.

          • HotDang

            You’re safer taking the lane, with or without a sharrow, than you are riding in the gutter.

      • rich1299

        I totally agree about taking the lane when riding in dangerous conditions. I’ve had to do it for my own safety even out west in south Etobicoke. Much better to have some car drivers angry with you than to be dead or seriously injured. Besides which cyclists are permitted under our laws to take up a full lane of traffic. I wouldn’t normally do it out of courtesy to car drivers but if I feel the car drivers are putting my life at real risk then its a different matter.

  • Sircrapsalot

    Start charging tolls for cars and bikes and you’ll see a dramatic change downtown and put that money towards transit.

    • https://paul.kishimoto.name/ Paul Kishimoto

      Why tolls for bikes? Where has that worked?

      Moreover, where have cordon charges for cars worked? I’m not current, but I thought the evidence from London, at least, was mixed.

      • tomwest

        It reduced car usage and increased transit usage. I suppose that counts as “mixed” in some people’s eyes…

        • https://paul.kishimoto.name/ Paul Kishimoto

          One thing I heard—I can’t find a reference, but it was via someone I’d defer to on the topic—was that private parking operators within the zone reduced their prices by an amount equal to the congestion charge, which significantly weakened the price signal to drivers.

          http://classes.igpa.uiuc.edu/jgiertz/London-congestion.pdf
          also says that revenues fell below expectations—but the effects were positive overall and, in some metrics, better than projected.

          • dsmithhfx

            A tax on parking spaces might be more effective.

          • tomwest

            “Revenues fell below expectations” is a negative way of saying “more people decided to enter avoid the zone than were expected”!
            It wasn’t primarily a revenue-raising thing. (Originally, the revenues were to be used to cover the cost of addtional bus service. The extra bus service remained, just with addtional subsidy)

          • https://paul.kishimoto.name/ Paul Kishimoto

            I know that wasn’t the point…but the article also says that increasing revenues was cited as one reason to increase the fee from £5 to £8.

            I’m not opposed to the idea, only wary of the things that can go wrong in implementation. As dsmithhfx points out, there are also alternate instruments.

            Negative political narratives can always be dealt with, but unintended consequences due to sloppy implementation or poor understanding of the effects of the policy could erase most of the benefits. It’s worth looking closely at other examples to figure out what we should do and how we should do it.

    • bobloblawbloblawblah

      The idea of tolls on cars is to reduce the number of drivers downtown. As yet there hasn’t been a congestion problem due to cyclists, so why would we put tolls on them. You want to encourage other modes of transit besides cars.

      • Sircrapsalot

        Because bikes use the very same roads as cars and that would give cyclists the same rights as car drivers, also some of that money would be used to create bike paths on every major road in Toronto.

  • EC

    What ever happened to the SHARE initiative?

  • SureShot

    As ‘downtown’ grows, air quality deteriorates and the dinosaurs are pushed out of office the culture will slowly change. Cycling won’t be such a four letter word.

    • tomwest

      It’s not just downtown. I was at a meeting in Rexdale recently where local employers were saying theuir employees want to cycle – but only if there’s a safe on-street route. (Arguably, it’s worse to cycle on major roads in the suburbs, because traffic speeds are higher). Bike lanes are needed everywhere :-)

    • OgtheDim

      A lot of those dinosaurs are youngish downtown councillors who don’t want to tick off business owners so never ever ever contemplate things like taking parking off of King or Queen.

      Do not make the assumption this is a generational issue.

      • rich1299

        True, though it is amazing how much more valued car drivers are than pedestrians and transit riders to many small businesses. I used to live in south Etobicoke in the New Toronto area. When Transit City came up and the plans for the Lake Shore west line made public which would require the banning of on street parking during rush hours some local businesses absolutely lost it as if it were the end of their world.

        That strip is made up of small old towns that were built in an urban form so the density is there in some sections to support many small stores in close proximity. The lots were small so there were no regional type stores. From where I lived I was within a 5-10 minute walk of 3 drugstores and 2 coffee shops (several more with a 5 minute drive), and within a walk of 5 minutes or so of about 6 convenience stores, 2 green grocers, a small grocery store, and several discount stores. I’m guessing about 99% of their customers walked to most of these stores or took transit if going to a one off specialty store on the strip. Why would anyone drive to a store when there’s one just like it within a 5 minute walk? There are also several Green P lots just off Lake Shore I’ve never seen more than 1/3rd full.

        A small drug store owner became incredibly loud and insulting to me when I voiced my support for the LRT on Lake Shore, he had an anti LRT sign up at the cashier counter. It was the last time I shopped at his store, after all I had two others nearby to pick from where I hadn’t been yelled at and insulted by their owners. I had never imagined anyone could get so angry about such things that would have no noticeable impact on their business, there was a Green P lot right behind his store and a streetcar stop out front.

        Though in fairness most store owners never leave their stores so don’t see how most people get there. I lived on an upper floor just of the strip so could see it easily. They drive and apparently assume everyone else drives too. Very few store owners on the Lake Shore strip actually live in the area, those I talked to all came from either Mississauga or the suburban northern parts of Toronto where most do drive. Better transit there would’ve brought in far more people than on street parking during rush hours does but the store owners just couldn’t see it, anti-LRT signs were up in many stores on the strip. It would also jack up the rents though so I suppose its a good thing the Lake Shore west LRT is the last in line and likely to never happen. Rents have shot up in some areas near shiny new condos though other areas are protected by the presence of heavy industrial along the train tracks.

        • nevilleross

          A lot of these businesses should go out of business anyway if they’re going to be like this-who need a dinosaur of a store resistant to progressive changes?

          • Paul Sheffield

            So you’re going to put people out of work so that you can have a blissful bike ride? Nice priorities.

          • nevilleross

            There will always be others that can adjust to new changes-we need these people to be running new businesses, not old ones stuck in the past that require a car owner as a patron. For example, the St Clair streetcar has a two-hour transfer to allow people to get off and see what a store is like, or to shop, and then get back on the streetcar and go someplace else or go home without having to pay another token or ticket-that could have been used on the Lakeshore LRT line with no fuss. Yet, the store owners are against it. Fine, then they can go out of business and we can get better ones that will support this.

          • torontothegreat

            No, you’re not going to put anyone out of work, they will reap more rewards from such a thing and bring vibrancy to their neighbourhoods. These dinosaurs only “think” it’s bad for them. St. Clair is a prime example of this.

    • nevilleross

      What will happen when cars run on hydrogen and electric power fully, and the air’s not being fouled? What and who will be complaining then?

  • https://paul.kishimoto.name/ Paul Kishimoto

    Amen!

    The NP and Toronto Star both reported on an intersection in North York where three members of the same family were hit by cars: http://news.nationalpost.com/2014/02/21/family-searching-for-answers-after-three-sisters-hit-by-three-different-cars-at-same-toronto-intersection/ (The blame-the-victim sentiment in the comments section is truly vile, and shouldn’t be accommodated at all.)

    Better infrastructure (better designed roads and intersections) would make a huge difference, but we are far, far too timid and conservative about it. Has anyone ever seen a plastic bollard anywhere in the city? Why not?

    Or, for instance, http://vimeo.com/86721046 has crossed my news feed several times in the past month. I see people (much like our politicians and City staff) far more eager to elaborate reasons why that specific concept would NOT work, than to identify others that WOULD work—to say nothing of actually BUILDING them.

  • Notcleverguy

    Bravo John, great article. As a regular cyclist I was always fascinated that the idiot Ford’s answer to stopping the so called “war on the car” was to create a war on cyclists. Spending money on painting out already existing bike lanes for no reason at all speaks volumes to this man-child’s lack of any real mental capacity. It’s just one thing in a long string of him shaping the city to fit his needs and only his.

  • HotDang

    Oh! What a lovely war.

    • spicygarage

      +1 for the clever cultural reference!

  • ZachSwan

    Idiotic article and writer. Give Toronto a subway network like New York, and you can start turning car lanes into bike lanes tomorrow as far as I’m concerned. Until then, stop expecting that Toronto can be like Amsterdam. We had 36 extreme cold weather alerts in the last 3 months.

    • Notcleverguy

      So your solution is to still do nothing in Toronto’s present state for cyclists?

      To debate your points though, you say Toronto needs more subways to accommodate more bike lanes like NY, and because it’s colder here we shouldn’t try to promote safe cycling like they do in Amsterdam (And Oslo, Stockholm, Helsinki, you know toasty warm cities like that) and all places that have great networks of light rail, which we almost had, but we needed three subway stops to a mall in Scarborough instead . I know a lot of people that cycle all winter, myself included, so I guess screw them for being dedicated to cutting down on traffic and congestion year round.

      • ZachSwan

        Well, there may be a solution but it is NOT to further ‘restrict car use – remove car lanes’ etc as the writer suggests. Unless you’re one of the very very few hard core like yourself who are willing and able to commute or do their business in sub zero weather for a third of the year on a bike there is no acceptable alternative to the motor vehicle.

        If we had a more temperate climate and/or a comprehensive downtown subway network, widespread support for bicycle infrastructure would be a reasonable solution. We don’t, so it isn’t.

        • vampchick21

          Anyone paying attention to the city streets of Toronto during winter will see many, many cyclists out there. And pedestrians. So there is a need for creating proper bike lanes and safety for them.

          I’m sorry that you’re so dependent on that car of your’s to the point that you think it’s the only acceptable means of getting from point A to point B, but we don’t build the city around you. Go back to Durham.

          • ZachSwan

            You’re great at making assumptions. Wrong ones. I live downtown. I walk to work. I use streetcars to get around. I don’t own a car. I’m practical and realistic though. “Many many cyclists” is not enough. Making it more difficult to get around the city in a motor vehicle is a completely impractical approach for anyone other than the fringe group of hard core cyclists in the city that exists today and for the next 50 years (since we have such a pathetic subway system.)

          • Notcleverguy

            I drive downtown sometimes, Toronto is not any worse to drive in than any other city it’s size, having lived in a few myself I know first hand, but it is far more difficult and far less safe to cycle in, that is for sure.

          • vampchick21

            Ok, so you claim to live downtown, to walk to work and use transit and don’t own a car, and yet you are clearly advocating for more cars.

            Does. Not. Compute.

            I too live downtown, walk, take transit and do not own a car. And I disagree with you and your 1950′s viewpoint on transit and mobility.

          • ZachSwan

            I’m sorry it’s so difficult for you to look at an issue dispassionately and rationally. I’m not advocating for more cars. I’m saying that it is impractical to make it more difficult for motor vehicles to get into and around downtown Toronto by replacing car/truck/bus infrastructure to accommodate a transportation medium that a) is not practical for the majority of people at least 1/3 of the year due to our climate and b) does not and will not have the ability to move sufficient numbers of people to justify the cost of the gridlock that would be created.

          • vampchick21

            Sorry, cannot agree. Deal with it.

          • dsmithhfx

            You’re arguing from the POV of a car owner, and a pretty selfish and short-sighted one at that, so you get to wear that assumption.

          • ZachSwan

            Nope. I’m arguing from the POV of a dispassionate observer assessing reality.

          • dsmithhfx

            Escalade or Navigator?

          • ZachSwan

            Metro Pass

          • John Spragge

            Car congestion has no mystery about it; it exists simply because cars take up so much space. A car takes up enough room for its stopping distance time the lane width: from three to four meters. That means a road has a theoretical maximum throughput of 1800 cars per hour per lane, regardless of the speed of traffic. As cars approach the maximum throughput, congestion results. City streets can accommodate at least twice, and probably three times, as many bicycles, simply because bicycles take up less space.

          • ZachSwan

            All that seems logical. The part that was missed is that even though 3 times as many bicycles can theoretically fit in that space, we’ll never reach that level of utilization, and even if we did, the cost to the functioning of the city would be too great. A bicycle is useless to the lady who lives in Markham or Mississauga and works downtown. And it’s useless to 99% of the population for at least 4 months of the year when it’s too cold or when it rains or when they need to move people around the city or carry and deliver items to different locations for their business or when the traveler is older, not fit, or ill. Or any number of other reasons. Now take your formula for car congestion. Remove one lane of 1800 cars per hour. Keep in mind the same number of vehicles are needed because we have such an inferior transit system that it doesn’t meet the needs of drivers and bikes aren’t an option for much of the year. What happens? Gridlock. Money out the window while drivers are jammed in traffic. Chaos and mayhem. But a few thousand cyclists can get around a little easier. Except from November to April when those bike lanes are largely vacant but for a relatively small hard core of downtowners with short distances to travel.

          • John Spragge

            I’ll tell you a story. I know a person who has severe nerve damage that severely weakens both their arms, and I always thought that person had a perfectly valid basis for saying that they at least can’t use a bicycle. Then one day, coming out of the subway, they unlocked their bike and rode away. On the other extreme, I have had people a good decade younger than me claim that “of course” they were too old to bicycle– news to me and a lot of other cyclists. In reality, most of the people who don’t have a wheel chair on their license plates can ride a bicycle for a reasonable proportion of their errands, and if we convert just a third of all car trips to bicycle trips, then we will have gone a long way to eliminating congestion in this city. As for winter and rain: warm clothes, a rain poncho and waterproof over-pants will take care of most of the problem. The equipment needed to cycle through an average Toronto winter costs substantially less than a set of snow tires. Again, this doesn’t mean everyone can cycle all the time; it just means that cyclists use less space on the road, and if we moved the proportion of traffic that can reasonably cycle to bicycles, primarily by providing convenient and connected cycle facilities, we would have less of a problem with congestion for those people who really need to drive.

          • nevilleross

            Our subway is only pathetic to people like you who should be living elsewhere and are so envious of other subways that you like to bash this one-get your ass to New York, London, Paris or Tokyo so that you can ride the subway all day long, and leave the rest of us alone.

          • ZachSwan

            Hahaha. That’s funny. I can only assume that was sarcasm because no one can really be that daft that they actually think Canada’s largest city actually has an acceptable transit system. The truth is I do admire those systems and I do ride them whenever I’m in those cities, but really, I’d be impressed if we could even approach the calibre of transit that is offered in a city our size versus the megacities you mention. Like Barcelona. Or Madrid. Or so many more cities who aren’t held back by visionless twats like yourself who are willing to accept small town infrastructure in a city that will be approaching 9 million people in the next 20 or so years. Hell, even the Toronto Star agrees: http://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorials/2014/04/09/toronto_badly_needs_a_downtown_subway_relief_line_editorial.html

          • nevilleross

            I’m not a vision-less anything, but a realistic person who knows what Toronto needs now, and it isn’t more subways that won’t get enough riders to justify the costs of building them. And I don’t give a shit what the Star says; we have to have a made-in-Toronto solution to our problems, not a made-in-Madrid or a made-in-New York or a made-in-London solution that doesn’t work for a city that’s not as urbanly dense as those cities. Get off of your ass, as I’d told you above, and go and live in those cities.

          • ZachSwan

            Well, fortunately simple minded, (and yes) vision-less people like you are few and far between. If there were more, instead of being a fine city like it is today, the people of Toronto would still be living in wooden shacks and riding horses down the street, if we had a city at all. You’re not very realistic either and are showing yourself to be completely incapable of comprehending the simple reality that making mass transit decisions have little to do with what “Toronto needs now”. It’s about what Toronto needs 20, 30, and 50 years from now. It’s about shaping and building a city. Congratulations for being able to type out a sentence though. Be sure to wear your helmet next time you go out for a walk. I know it will make it difficult for you to lick shop windows but you’ll just have to learn to do without that joy.

          • nevilleross

            You can insult me all you want, but what you want won’t stand up in the cold light of reality; Toronto isn’t urbanly dense, and won’t be for the next 20 years, so there will be no subways criss-crossing the city. Live with this, or get the fuck out of Toronto as I’ve said before, and live someplace else.

          • ZachSwan

            Wow. Your cluelessness is shocking. If one of us should leave, it definitely should be you, little man.

          • nevilleross

            I don’t plan to leave, for a lot of reasons (it’s a long story) and even if I did (and could) leave to live in (or just visit) the cities mentioned, I’m going to still have respect for Toronto and what it has to do with regards to public transit-I won’t be dismissively comparing it to New York, Paris, London, Tokyo, Madrid, Seoul, or even Montreal just because said cities have a shitload of subway lines and Toronto doesn’t like you’re doing now.You’re just being a spoiled brat whining because you didn’t get your train set for Christmas or your birthday.

          • ZachSwan

            Well, if you won’t leave then you should just go back to reading your comic books and leave the real thinking to grown ups. You’re out of your depth.

        • Notcleverguy

          Zach, I see what you’re saying, and I don’t fully disagree, but you seem to take the tone that the cyclists are the last group that matters. Consider this, Toronto had a great fully funded plan to expand public transit by leaps and bounds, that may have very well resulted in less cars on downtown streets, but some fat, dumb and perma sweaty guy killed it so he could push his unfunded, narrow pet project forward that won’t ease traffic at all, but might make it easier to get to a suburban mall.

          If you feel passionately about the issue, you should be mad at that guy, not cyclists.

          • ZachSwan

            Well, the truth is, I don’t agree with the prioritization of transit investment that has come from our current mayor. IMHO, we should get the core well covered with rapid transit and functioning (the area with narrow streets, parking and congestion) before investing in transit that just brings more people into an already overwhelmed system. In a scenario with finite capital funds, that should come first. Notwithstanding that, the Scarborough investment in subways is not a bad one. For this type of investment, the appropriate planning and value horizon is more like 50 years than short term. That’s another debate and discussion though.

            And I’m not mad at cyclists. I’m one too. I choose not to cycle too much on the downtown streets as I feel it’s too dangerous. Is that unfortunate? Sure, but we can’t always have whatever we want. There are other options available to me.

    • tyrannosaurus_rek

      Idiotic comment.

      • ZachSwan

        ^ useless waste of a keyboard.

        • dsmithhfx

          As opposed to a useful waste?

    • bobloblawbloblawblah

      Well, you won’t get one like New York because Toronto is a different city and has a smaller population that is spread out over a larger area and oh, yeah, people here don’t want their taxes raised. Which is why all the politicians in the current Mayoral race are for more transit and subways but terrified to talk about funding.

      • bjhtn

        And even New York is struggling to build the Second Avenue subway.

        • nevilleross

          They should be building light rail and streetcars instead.

      • ZachSwan

        What will Toronto look like 20 or 40 years from now? What do we want it to look like? What problems will they face then that we need to start solving now. These are the questions and that is the time horizon we should be addressing. Otherwise, we’re just foisting problems on the next generation, at which time it will be too late for them to benefit from a solution. Kinda like what is happening to us now.

    • nevilleross

      All we need is the DRL, the Vaughn extension, Transit City, and that’s it. More subways? For what? So that lazy morons like you can show off to the world? Get real.

      • ZachSwan

        Please. Get out and travel a bit. Then you’ll have an opinion worth listening to. Yes, all of those (not sure about the Vaughn extension) but certainly not in that order. Transit City would be wonderful if we had the infrastructure in the core to support it. We don’t. All it would have done is crushed the already overwhelmed downtown system. Useless. Invest the money in fixing the high density areas first. Then worry about bringing more users into those areas. Long term thinging with big capital projects: good. Short term solutions: bad.

        • nevilleross

          I’m not interested in people like you obsessed with getting what some other city has simply because some other city has it (subways or RFID card payment systems). We have Transit City to build, and we have the DRL to build, and that’s all we really need. If you want the so-called ‘convenience’ of more subways, then I suggest you get up off of your ass and move to those cities that have more subways (London, Paris, New York, Tokyo, Seoul) and stay there.

  • clementine

    Thanks for this great article.
    We’re stuck in a bad catch-22 here in Toronto: more people would cycle if there was a safe network of infrastructure, but the lack of thereof prevents more people from choosing to cycle, and less cyclists means less public pressure on city hall to come up with a comprehensive plan. Toronto’s Bike Plan is badly outdated, we need a new one that includes separated lanes a la Copenhagen or Montreal. I urge Olivia Chow to take this on.
    I cycle daily to and from high park to downtown, and almost daily I have a heart-stopping interaction with a turning vehicle, or a truck that doesn’t see me. I completely understand when people tell me they don’t feel safe cycling downtown.

    • vampchick21

      This. I often want to cycle around the city, but I’m absolutely terrified of drivers hurting me. I personally witnessed one cyclist being pinned against the side of a slow moving streetcar by a driver opening their driver side door of their parked car on College Street, and everyone knows about dooring.

      I’m just too afraid, and I admire those who actually do get out their on their bikes on these streets.

      • Notcleverguy

        Part confidence, part skill, mix in some stupidity and add a dash of death wish. and you have the Toronto cyclist.

        • vampchick21

          In the case of bike courier, increase dash of death wish.

          • Notcleverguy

            Those guys/gals are nuts.
            Sometimes the bug me, usually they do ride pretty irresponsible and don’t really fallow the rules cyclist should use. So they end up leaving a lasting impression in drivers minds that all cyclists are like that.

            (Some are very good though, but not many)

          • ThisAintCanada

            It is often amusing to witness folks here publicly airing blanket opinions concerning things they know nothing about.

            When it comes to Toronto’s urban mobility debate however, stereotypical generalizations are no longer funny.

            The auto-addled general public’s delusion when it comes to active mobility practitioners – including bike messengers – borders on the tragic because of the way such misconception delays the local implementation of wiser transportation policies.

            Notcleverguy and vampchick21 both sound like members of the flock of sheep who still believe that Darcy Allan Sheppard “attacked” Michael Bryant – and therefore deserved to be viciously slain on Bloor Street five years ago this August.

            The dead man was a bike messenger, after all.

            Sad, eh?

          • vampchick21

            Excuse me? Because I cracked a joke based partially on my observations over the last 20 years of bike couriers zipping through the core on deliveries and pick ups and my experience with them as a receptionist way back in the day, and suddenly I’m stereotyping them and think a bike courier deserved to die?

            WTF is wrong with you? Get your head checked.

            Clearly you are the one drawing some pretty outrageous conclusions here, and I for one DO NOT appreciate in the least being lumped in with that type of person, not now, not ever.

            You owe me an apology dearheart.

            I do not drive. I do not own a car. I do not ride a bike because of car drivers in this city. But hey, one little joke about how bike couriers defy death zipping through that traffic and suddenly I’m a car addicted right wing neo-con who hates cyclists and couriers and votes for Ford.

            Screw. You.

          • ThisAintCanada

            “In the case of bike courier, increase dash of death wish.” – vampchick21

            You obviously know nothing about what motivates such people.

            Indeed, one would suggest that veteran members of said profession are as motivated by as much of a “life” wish, as any other group of workers you might mention.

            I stated that your “joke” made you “sound” like the ill-informed majority of Torontonians who think they know what happened on Bloor Street between the now-dead bike messenger and his well-connected killer – I never said you were necessarily one of them.

            Maybe read what I wrote again dearheart, without the knee-jerk indignation.

            No matter what your chosen mode of transport, have a safe weekend out here on the street, eh?

          • vampchick21

            You read an awful lot into what is the equivalent of “he’s got balls” sonny. You are the one who decided that means I think like or am the equivalent of someone who thinks someone deserved to die. And you owe me an apology for that. But I doubt a pompous ass like you will admit you made an error.

          • ThisAintCanada

            I am sorry you are so wrong about so many things you think you understand.

            Get a grip, eh?

          • vampchick21

            Oh for the love of…..pull the bug out of your ass. You are wrong about my meaning in my initial post, you took it way out of context and you are a pretentious, pompous arse.

            But you know that deep down inside, buried deep under that layer of self appointed superiority.

            Go peddle your brand of condescending condemnation on someone else. I ain’t buying.

          • TheSotSays

            pull the bug out of your ass?

            Why, do you want to eat it?

          • dsmithhfx

            Going for popcorn, be right back!

    • https://paul.kishimoto.name/ Paul Kishimoto

      Please urge her directly! She probably does not read these comments…

  • ThisAintCanada

    Blame the longstanding “Oh-Oh (Oshawa/Oakville) factor” for Southern Ontario’s continued urban mobility farce – so costly when it comes to both blood and treasure.

    As long as what is good for GM and FORD – and their co-competitors, agents, suppliers, and mainstream press shills, etc. – continues to be unquestioningly deemed “good for Ontario”, our local transportation model will remain rooted in the previous century’s intended automobile over-dependence.

    Look into the 2001 events at City Hall that led to the auto ad dollar-reliant media’s assertion that the City of Toronto was waging a “WAR on The CAR”.

    Identifying and attempting to address myriad safety, efficiency, sustainability problems facing motor-vehicle congested population hubs was seen as a threat to their bottom line. And in that at least, they were perhaps correct.

    There never was anything that resembled Rob Ford’s imagined, yet conveniently divisive, “war”, but the inevitable rethinking of personal motor vehicle privilege in our still growing neighbourhoods – across the city – remains the solution.

    Best of luck this year to all fellow Torontonians who live “in” – as opposed to “off” – our troubled, yet uniquely wonderful hometown, eh?

    • https://paul.kishimoto.name/ Paul Kishimoto

      …what?

      • dsmithhfx

        Short version: It’s communist to call attention to the role of financial interests in driving federal and provincial transportation (and other) policies.

      • ThisAintCanada

        Sorry Mr Kishimoto et al. One was merely trying to detail some of the Toronto-specific history that led to Mel Lastman-era rumours which first accused this city of waging a “WAR on The CAR”.

        Those who have not been involved throughout the local, more than three decade-long, active mobility debate, may not be privy to all the details of how we got into our current mess.

        What specifically do you and your pals not understand, Paul?

  • Notcleverguy

    Jim Flaharty just died.

  • OgtheDim

    Is there a 3rd way here?

    • dsmithhfx

      Yes!

  • dsmithhfx

    If the police actually enforced existing speed limits (and general rules of the road), that would be a good start.

  • dsmithhfx

    I see loads of cyclists who ride like complete idiots all the time. I would say ones who respect traffic laws are the exception.

    • bobloblawbloblawblah

      I’ve ridden my bike in the downtown core for 20 years, although of late I use TTC. I rarely ran the lights because it’s dangerous and I’d gotten two $110 fines. A few more police blitzes a year would cure many of those idiot cyclists. They give most cyclists a bad name.

  • KidWunder

    Your headline invokes the same politics of division on which Ford won the last election. Sensible people in Toronto don’t want a war on anything.

  • AboveTheCity

    “Is there a 3rd way here?”

    Two things – first the roads are a public space – not just for cars, and not just for individual motorists, but for EVERYONE who uses that space. Thus it’s a SHARED space. If you approach it that way, be you a motorist, a cyclist or a pedestrian many of the current problems would decrease significantly. It’s about respect. The current Mayor has not helped with this at all – in fact he’s made the situation much worse!

    Second, really it’s to laugh (or weep) in Toronto, while we bicker over a kilometer here or there, in many U.S. municipalities now, it’s been mandated for some time that on any new roads being built, or roads that are being refurbished, resurfaced, or widened, that a bike lane is to be included – full stop! Thus, if you go to many U.S. cities now, Tucson, AZ for an example, or Orange County, CA, there are bike lanes EVERYWHERE!

    Now I get it that in some places this is not physically practical, but in many places in metro Toronto it is!

  • John Spragge

    Actually, no. At rush hour times, bicycles already travel at least as quickly, on average, as cars in the downtown core, and usually faster.

    • Paul Sheffield

      So for those of your fellow citizens who aren’t youthful, spry, or physically able to gallivant around on bikes…what bout them? Those who don’t have the luxury of a subway station or bus stop nearby?

      • vampchick21

        You do realize that no one is advocating for everyone to travel via bicycle, right? You do realize that what is being advocated is greater safety for those who do that allow them to share the road with those in cars, trucks and public transit?

        Or just keep acting like we’re demanding everyone ride a bike, whatever floats your boat.

      • John Spragge

        According to Statistics Canada, about 73% of Toronto residents fall between 18 and 70, years in which most people who do not have real mobility impairments can cycle for at least some trips. While not everyone can ride a bicycle and very few people can use a bicycle for all purposes, my experience tells me that cycling is more often a matter of choice than physical ability. Even moving just the trips well within a comfortable distance by those easily physically able to cycle would drastically cut congestion for those persons (and applications) that require motorized transport, and give us a more attractive, safer and more interesting city.

        • dsmithhfx

          It would also substantially increase health and fitness, and dramatically reduce long-term healthcare costs.

          • TheSotSays

            “Dramatically reduce long-term health costs”

            a)Tell that to the crazed bikers who’ve been splattered playing in the traffic and running stop lights

            b) Get your ouija board and tell that to a crazed NDP wonk who put himself in the hospital after crashing into a newspaper box while cycling illegally on the sidewalk.

            I also heard that spandex bicycle tights restrict your blood flow and set you up for the big one.

          • dsmithhfx

            Ouija board? What?

          • John Spragge

            Wrong. Insurance companies, who make their money betting people they won’t die, encourage their customers to cycle. A pretty solid medical consensus holds that the sedentary lifestyle symbolized and enabled by the automobile has debilitating and life shortening effects similar to those of smoking.

            As for spandex tights: since immobility plays a bigger role in circulation problems (cf. deep vein thrombosis on long flights) I suspect that cycling cancels out any bad effects of wearing tights. But in any case, you don’t need thights of any kind to ride a bicycle; I do just fine in jeans.

          • TheSotSays

            What do you mean I’m wrong? I’m not wrong at all. When was the last time you got a letter from some insurance company telling you to hop on your bike and get yourself splattered on the street from playing in the traffic?

            And if you think insurance companies are running around betting people won’t die, you’re confused. Insurance companies are betting that you’ll buy insurance for a few years and that you’ll drop the insurance for cost reasons two weeks before you get splattered all over a down town street by a garbage truck.

            And what you “suspect” about cycling cancelling out spandex “thights” is irrelevant.

            As for your bit about sedentary lifestyles, it’s silly. Eighty year old men with heart problems are riding around on bicycles. So, unless you’re twenty years old and in training for the Tour de France, the exercise value of a bicycle is approximately zero, walking is 10 times better. But if you try bicycle riding in the down town streets as if you’re in training for the Olympics every horse race bookmaker in town will be offering 20 to 1 that you won’t last a week without getting flattened.

          • John Spragge

            No, you’re wrong, straight down the line.

            For a comment from an insurance company endorsing the health benefits of cycling, click here. For other articles on the net health benefits of cycling for transportation, click here, here, here, here, here and here.

  • tyrannosaurus_rek

    Why should everyone pay for the (bad) choices of suburbanites? Why should city infrastructure be skewed toward the mode of transporation that is the exclusive domain of people who can afford personal vehicles? Why do people from beyond the core have more right to those streets than people traveling within it?

    • Paul Sheffield

      Bad choices? So the reasons keeping people in the burbs and out of the downtown core–fiscal restraints, personal choices, ethnic groupings, and social requirements–are bad choices? Sounds like a yuppy brand of geopolitical elitism, skewed further by your own myopia. 43% of the GTA lives in Toronto proper, and but a percentage of that lives along the subway lines or in areas where biking makes sense or is convenient. Jeopardizing the commute of cars also means fucking people taking WheelTrans; slowing down transit buses; and hurting small businesses. An absorbent amount of gas tax goes to city infrastructure, entitling those insidious car drivers to an efficient drive.

      • tyrannosaurus_rek

        Bad choices like getting a job a 60+ minute drive from where you live – yes, it’s a choice. Bad choices like not carpooling or taking the GO, instead choosing to drive a 75%-empty vehicle. Bad choices like moving out of the city because now you have a kid and everyone knows you can’t raise a kid anywhere but the suburbs. Bad choices like those. Not everyone living in the suburbs is a hapless victim of circumstance, so don’t pretend I said anything of the sort.

        “Jeopardizing the commute of cars” is Fordian agitprop and you know it. A transportation/transit plan that gets people out of cars and into other modes of transportation directly benefits the remaining drivers of private, inefficient vehicles by reducing and displacing traffic from their routes.

        • nevilleross

          Bad choices like getting a job a 60+ minute drive from where you live – yes, it’s a choice. Bad choices like moving out of the city because now you have a kid and everyone knows you can’t raise a kid anywhere but the suburbs.

          Exactly my living situation when I was a child; my parents moved me and my brother to Willowdale in North York (corner of Van Horne and Edmonton) from Parkdale just because mom and dad wanted a house to live in. Great idea, if we had a car-but we didn’t. So, we had to suffer having to walk everyplace (from Van Horne and Edmonton to Victoria Park and Edmonton just to catch the Victoria Park 24 bus to Victoria Park Station, or to Van Horne and Don Mills to catch the Don Mills 25 bus to Pape Station-both a long walk in burning sumer temperatures and biting icy snow just to catch a bus, or buy groceries and other things at either the Victoria Park Plaza and Peanut Plaza.)

          All because we didn’t have a car to drive in a suburbanized part of Toronto, and because the TTC wouldn’t and didn’t bother to have a bus route run down Van Horne until 1982, when my parents split up and I went to live with my mother. Add more living in Scarborough, and by the time I was twenty-something, I decided to get the hell out and I moved back to downtown.

          You’re right, we make choices, and I wish my parents weren’t so mesmerized by suburbia that they couldn’t find a place downtown to live, especially considering my mom worked at CAMH and my dad worked at Parkview High School [now CALC]-both in downtown Toronto.

  • Squintz

    But drivers never do this right, those horrible cyclists, where do they pick up these terrible traits?

  • futurewidow

    Stop signs ought to be yield signs for cyclists, there’s nothing more idiotic than coming to a complete stop when no one else is around and you’re on a self propelled vehicle.

  • AboveTheCity

    There is something about a motorist behind a cyclist – they lose their minds and all sense of rational thought. Believe, me as a competitive cyclist, who’s cycled thousands of miles on GTA roads every year for 30 years, I have evidence to back this up.

    The one thing they always seem to try and do is, get by the cyclist – even if you the cyclist is moving along at the speed limit and at the flow of traffic. The motorist becomes obsessed with getting by, somehow – often endangering you, other motorists and even themselves. THEY MUST GET BY! Waiting, even for 10 sec or so, for a SAFE spot to make the pass never occurs to them.

  • LelaG

    I don’t know who fails our cities more, the visionless and apathetic government officials who dish out rhetoric and toss crumbs, or the ever grateful subservient cyclists who buy it all for nothing. If we are to build an integrated multimodal transportation network and achieve objectives in reducing congestion, air/water pollution, socioeconomic costs of health, and traffic accidents, the Gov should install a safe and cohesive bicycle infrastructure by allocating 2% funds from Roads and Highways. To re-allocate road space by allowing no parking in arterial roads while deliveries can be made early in the morning or late in the evening. But, our mentality is firmly anchored in the 20th century of car-clogged cities.

  • Notcleverguy

    I’m certainly not going to celebrate anyone’s death, but he was a pretty horrible fiance guy, serving the worst gov’t in Canadian history.

    My condolences to his family though.

  • OgtheDim

    Tell me, on the day Jack Layton died, did you get ticked at Christie Blatchford for what she wrote?

    Wait a day.

  • mixandserve

    Who is Jack Layton???

    Sorry…my mind has a bad habit of only remembering bullying tyrants.

  • OgtheDim

    Yeah, you just keep up that brave face. You remember Christie Blatchford’s column allright…bet you were on the NP article that day yelling at her just like I was.

    Basic morality doesn’t go away in the face of political opponents.

    I would have thought Jack Layton would have taught you that.

  • vampchick21

    Wow…just….wow dude. i was never a fan of Flaherty or the Tories for that matter, but wow dude. Not cool.

  • bobloblawbloblawblah

    Show a little class.

  • vampchick21

    Nice edit. BTW, you might want to brush up on social niceties. I know it’s a dying art in this day and age, but our great grandparents had it right. No need to either tap dance on someone’s grave nor mourn sarcastically.

  • Notcleverguy

    I yell at Blatchford on any day. She is a bitter bitter person.

  • OgtheDim

    Yeah, nice Fordian attempt at deflection there.

    U are that which you despise.

  • Notcleverguy

    Who me?

  • Notcleverguy

    Still waiting for you to explain how I was deflecting.
    ……………………….Nothing……………….Yeah,……. I thought so.

  • vampchick21

    Methinks he mixed you up with mixandserve

  • Notcleverguy

    Hopefully, saying in a round about fashion that I don’t like Blachford’s work is deflection? I don’t see how?

  • mixandserve

    I know few liked the guy, but he wasn’t a murderer or anything.

  • mixandserve

    Agreed. Both to the Harris years part and the family part.

    And he JUST retired too. Sucks. Whenever I buy new shoes, I’ll always think of him.

    I should buy some shoes.

  • vampchick21

    Seriously dude? Just admit your initial post was in poor taste, the one that got deleted, and move on. No need to try to defect.

  • nevilleross

    He helped to destroy what we had in the way of social services-that’s enough reason for somebody not to care about him.

  • OgtheDim

    Yeah, that would be messing up on who I’m responding to.

    Apologies.

  • Notcleverguy

    You had me very confused.
    My apologies as well.

  • TheSotSays

    Have you tried the TNTMen, Used Equipment Warehouse?