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My Criticsm on Candidate Rossi’s Statement

Apparent cyclist, Rocco Rossi, has shown time and time again that he is not only a non-cyclist but not a fan of cycling. His plans to remove existing bike lanes and fight bike lanes on ANY arterial road is an example of transportation planning from the 1950s. Without any opportunity for actual civic input on the matter it seems as though he has put his foot down on what he believes to be a matter of “civility”. I have decided to take his latest blog post and criticize elements of it, not to be a troll of some sort but to stimulate an actual discussion on the matter and not this one-sided preaching:

A City Hall staff report this week recommending the installation of bike lanes on University Avenue this summer is a recipe for gridlock.

<Really? But didn’t the City just state that the traffic load is manageable? Did you conduct a traffic flow analysis or conduct any actual analysis to have any concrete proof that it is a recipe for gridlock? There are plenty of examples both here and abroad where this kind of intervention has been manageable in the traffic flow (Think Embarcadero in San Francisco, 9th Ave physically separated bike lane in New York City, I could go on) for all users.>

With our transit funding in jeopardy, Toronto will be approaching complete and total gridlock in the next few years. We will need to use all of our smarts and all of our civility to get to work and to get around peacefully.

Pulling two lanes of University Avenue out of commission to install bike lanes is madness, particularly when a great north-south bike lane already exists three blocks west on Beverly-St. George.

<First off, it’s Beverley, not Beverly. This is Toronto, not California. Second, in case you haven’t looked at a map recently you will notice that the lane ends at Queen St. and there lacks any connectivity south of that unless you propose cyclists ride on a major arterial road such as Queen St. which doesn’t fly in your books. No bike lane, no arterial road, where is a cyclist to go, the sidewalk?>

And running a pilot project at the height of the biking season is cold comfort to drivers who will be struck on University Avenue in January gazing at an empty bike lane.

<Assuming that cycling is only a 3 season mode of transportation is misguided. Yes there are less cyclists out in the winter in comparison to summer months but the number of winter cyclists has been increasing over the years especially in the downtown core.>

Yet that is exactly what the city proposes to do as early as July on University Avenue. Our best information is that the city will also install the fully approved bike lanes on Jarvis Street sometime in late May or June, even though a wonderful bike lane connecting the waterfront to the Rosedale ravines and beyond exists two blocks east on Sherbourne Street.

<Are you really a cyclist? Have you ridden on Sherbourne St.? It’s quite possibly one of the worst downtown routes to use due to poorly maintained infrastructure. Besides, why can’t you look BEYOND the bike lanes on Jarvis and look at the big picture which is a revitalization of an entire neighbourhood which has lost its sense of identity, community and safety. The bike lane is part of a grander scheme that will have a huge impact on the health, security and longevity of this community.>

I was the first candidate to question the common sense and safety of putting new bike lanes on arterial roads. As a cyclist I have gone on record as favouring the completion of Toronto’s bike lane network on quieter streets parallel to arterial roads. I am the only candidate to commit to completing Toronto’s bike lane network.

<Bike lanes on roads is supposed to be a safety measure, a cyclist on an arterial road without a bike lane will feel much less safe without one. As a cyclist I would figure you of all people would understand that. Yes, not every road is ideal for a bike lane but to completely dismiss any future plans for bike lanes on arterial roads without an opportunity to public input or an opportunity for transportation planning is undemocratic, short sighted and a far call from your demands for civility.>

Bike lanes on arterial roads have emerged as a major issue in this election campaign.

In a comparable situation, David Miller asked that work be stopped on the Island Airport Bridge because it had become a major election issue during the 2003 campaign. I am calling on the mayor to take his own advice and let the voters of Toronto decide this issue themselves on October 25th.

<I’m calling non-sequitur on this one. What does the TPA bridge back in 2003, which was a multi-governmental and community specific issue, have on your bike lane issue? Miller’s call against the bridge’s construction actually made sense from a planning perspective unlike your bike lane issue which seems to lack any concrete facts or good planning sense.>

Posted: April 14th, 2010
Filed under: 2010 Election, Transportation Issues
Tags: | 5 Comments »

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket

With recent articles talking about cuts on transit funding by the Province and an increasing delay in travel times for commuters I can’t stress enough the importance in diversing our transportation network. We have discovered, yet again, that private automobile use is plauged with issues of congestion and it’s easy to understand why – supply and demand. The more cars on the road (which is the result of an increasing population both in the City and from our neighbouring suburbs) means increased demand for the supply of roads we have, which is not growing since we can’t sprout roads in a dense city like Toronto. Increasing demand, short supply, congestion. Unless we find a way to increase the number of roads on our city streets (double-deckered roads? But then again their is the issue of induced demand) or drastically change demand for roads there is only one viable solution to this: increase supply of complementary goods.

In economics, complementary goods are similar products/services that can be used in replace of an existing good, for example: if the supply of apples cannot meet demand the supply of pears can help satisfy the demand to achieve equilibrium. In the case of commuter demands, we need to invest in complementary goods such as transit and cycling infrastructure. It may sound crazy to some pro-car-anti-cycling folks out there but more bikes mean less cars. How does work? Well let’s look at a bike lane such as the one on Harbord Street. Harbord is a minor arterial with two lanes of traffic. Not one. Two. The left lane is a vehicular lane and the right lane is a bike lane. If, for example, at an intersection there are five cars in the left lane and five bicycles in the right lane. That means if the bike lane did not exist and the cyclists chose to drive instead that intersection would have 10 cars waiting. Now, that may seem like a small number but when there are thousands of cyclists in Toronto that’s a LOT of cars off the streets contributing to congestion.

Though it has been established by countless studies as well as proven examples across North America and Europe that increasing cycling infrastructure can help congestion there are still many critics out there. Yes, a family of four cannot ride their bikes from their home in the inner-suburbs to downtown Toronto or an elederly man cannot bike from his home in the Beaches to Little Italy but the point is not to transition all drivers into cyclists (though that would be dandy). The purpose of increasing cycling infrastructure is to provide viable options for commuters in deciding their modal type. In providing options of walking, biking, taking transit, or driving we diversify how people travel: More transit riders, less cars. More cyclists and walkers, less cars. Less cars, safer streets. Safer streets, more cyclists and walkers. Etc.

And don’t worry about those bike lanes being under-utilized, Mr. Rossi, they are being used. Unlike cars, bikes don’t have the issue of being held up at intersections so there is never a backed-up bike lane like there is a backed-up street. Also, don’t forget the adage if you build it they will come as increasing the supply of bike lanes will induce demand for it, a study conducted by Ipsos Reid supports this, “up to 40% of recreational cyclists could be motivated to cycle to work or school regularly, half of whom would do so if biking to work/school were safer than it is now.”

Posted: March 30th, 2010
Filed under: Transportation Issues
Tags: , , | 4 Comments »