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Mayoral candidate Rocco Rossi wants to stop (and tear out) bikelanes

(Cross-posted to the News discussion group)

Globe and Mail: Rossi vows review of transit plan

Wow… I’m not sure of Rossi’s chances… but who would really think that we need less transit and bikelanes in the city? Elect this guy if you want to see Toronto grind to a halt due to traffic congestion.

rossi“Mayoral candidate Rocco Rossi is vowing to put on hold all planned light-rail transit lines that haven’t broken ground until he can review the project’s finances – a promise that could jeopardize a key part of David Miller’s legacy….

Early in his speech Mr. Rossi mocked the mandatory five-cent fee Toronto retailers now charge for plastic bags. He won his biggest burst of applause for a plan to prohibit bike lanes on major roads. “As mayor I will oppose bike lanes on major arterials whether its bike lanes, whether its Jarvis, whether its Finch, whether its Warden …” he said, telling reporters later that not only would he ban future lanes on major roads, he would “look at” ripping out existing bike lanes on major roads.”

I haven’t thought too much about who I’m voting for in the election yet, but yes, if you’re wondering, it won’t be for Rossi.

UPDATE: The Toronto Sun is reporting on this story as well… and while Rossi is pledging to stop (and take out) bikelanes on major “arterial” roads… he wants to expedite more and more bikelanes on quieter streets.

Rocco should know that *every* street should welcome *all* forms of transportation… and um, quieter streets don’t *need* bikelanes as much, because they are safer by nature.

Don’t relegate bikes to sidestreets, Rocco.  Cyclists are voters too, and have the same rights to get places as drivers do.

  • Based on the last polls, at least 54% of the GTA won’t want to vote for him either, since that seems to be the numbers on Toronto residents that ride a bike in the city, either casually or to work.
    When are these politicians going to start looking at what the people are doing and what the people want rather than who can best line their pockets.
    This Rossi is a narrow minded fellow and sure to bet he dosen’t take the TTC, walk or ride a bike to work. In fact I wonder how big his wheel base is on his SUV?
    Problem with this city is that there are to many of these guys at city hall.

  • Ah – going for the Toronto Sun reader vote, I see. Times like this I wish I could vote…

  • Todd, it’s pretty sad how many people who have the right to vote choose not to vote. You should try to find some random person who wasn’t going to vote, but can vote on behalf of you ;)

    Any politician who doesn’t support public transit / cycling in 2010 doesn’t stand a chance in this city.

    God help us if I’m wrong

  • Great point Randal… there are more and more encouraging numbers about more and more Torontonians cycling:

    City of Toronto Survey shows Cycling is on the Rise!

    Cycling Commuters by Census Tract:

  • Ah, more info from the Toronto Sun, ironically enough:

    “In staking his right-of-centre claim Thursday in this year’s mayoral race during a sold-out Empire Club luncheon, Rocco Rossi vowed if elected to pursue outsourcing city services like garbage, boot politicians off the TTC board, and ban bike lanes from major arterial roads.

    But the avid cyclist — who once rode 1,900 km to raise money for charity — isn’t siding with the car in the city’s road war. In fact, he pledged to expedite building more bike lanes, but on quieter streets.”

  • Joe Mihevc on Twitter is exposing the non-research Rossi put into the Transit City statements:

    “Rossi on Transit City: The province is paying the full bill for Eglinton + Finch LRT. There r no city capital $: why lose this investment?”

    Now I’m inclined not to vote for him because of his bikelane statement and also because he doesn’t know facts that someone running for MAYOR should know. :)

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  • himysyed

    Good Morning,

    To be polite, I enthusiastically Disagree with Candidate Rossi’s position on Cyclists, Bike Lanes and his apparent less informed world view on urban transportation.

    Having said that, I am a candidate for Toronto City Council running in Ward 19 Trinity-Spadina.

    This is my second time running in Ward 19 for City Council, previously in 2006.

    Now I need your help.

    Help round out my Cyclist and Biking Policy. Tell me what you want for the next 5-8 years in Toronto.

    As often as possible, I ride my bike. I enjoy Critical Mass and feel the Police have diluted the spirit of it and it is no longer fun for me.

    By next week I want to add include your feedback as part of my official “Transit Citizen” policy position on my official Campaign Website.

    Prior to that, I will be recording a quick videolog post in answer to Candidate Rossi’s position by this weekend.

    Now it is Your turn,

    Biking Toronto what do you want for the next 5-8 years from the City?

    HiMY SYeD


  • Hi HiMY! Great idea. Be sure and join the Ward 19 Group here on BikingToronto – it’s the perfect place to discuss Ward 19 issues and connect with cyclists in your ward. :)


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  • I think making back streets into corridors for bike transit is a good idea!

    That means of coarse:

    Lights timed for cyclists when those small streets intersect major streets. (This would probably mean more stop lights and the expense of moving some that are in the wrong place within a new traffic grid vision.)

    Also, removing all the speed bumps.

    Taking out the miss-mash of one ways running into one ways that are supposed to quiet traffic (because they would no longer be necessary).

    These designated side street bike routes would have 20 – 25 km/h speed limits, strictly enforced at first – to direct all but local traffic away from them.

    Of coarse the way the media -and the candidate – are playing this rather good idea, is to foment a reactionary back lash against the future – because it sells news. That part of all this makes me angry, and sad. :(

    Michael Holloway

  • duncan

    The problem with side streets is that it directly contradicts how bicycle commuters actually travel. If I’m going to get from a to b I’m going to take the most direct route possible. And, since our city is criss-crossed with rail lines, highways and since our side streets are made to slow motor vehicle traffic with the use of one ways that change direction… well, I’m going to take major routes.

    Thing is, with these major routes, Bloor, Queen, Dundas and if heading north Yonge, Keele, Bathurst… etc… well, they are long and straight. The go for long distances, are often lined with retail shops and connect you directly to workplaces. Removing the few bikelanes on these streets won’t send cyclists elsewhere… we’re already there, and in large numbers.

    These routes are also not highways… although someone forgot to tell the majority of drivers this and apparently this Rossi guy, too. He can’t see the forest for the trees, although that speech may have just been him kissing up to fellow mucky-mucks and he’ll change his tone drastically once he addresses the common folk… that is if he’s as good a snake-oil salesman as I believe him to be.

  • JC

    That globe article omitted the fact that Mr Rossi said he would MOVE the bike lanes to parallel, quieter streets. I’m surprised to admit that that the SUN reporter wrote a more objective and inclusive article than someone from the G&M. He’s an avid biker, and I myself bike, and can tell you that Bike Lanes across Sheppard/ Finch is a bad idea. Put them on parallel, quieter roads.

  • The only problem with putting bikelanes on quieter roads parellel to Sheppard is…. there aren’t any.

    Cyclists should not be relegated to sidestreets. We pay taxes that pay for the upkeep of roads too. Should pedestrians / sidewalks be taken off major roads too? Of course not.

  • JC

    At the end of the day it comes down to this: As our population continues to grow, which would we prefer on our neighbourhood streets? More cars, or more bikes? Either way, we’re going to have one or the other. It’s either simple naivety or pure intellectual dishonestly to think otherwise.

  • duncan

    JC, I’m confused as to what “this” things are coming down to. Feel free to explain.

    Let’s take a look at Sheppard:

    View Larger Map

    Let’s just say I live near Bathurst and Sheppard. I’ve chosen to use my bicycle as my means of transportation. I may not like buses and I can’t afford a car. However, I work at Sheppard and Yonge. It’s pretty close… but how do I get there without taking Sheppard?

  • It sounds like “JC” has broken this down into a “one or the other” case of looking at things.

    There will always be private automobiles, public transit, cyclists and pedestrians, and all 4 modes have equal rights to ALL public infrastructure. If you want to keep bikelanes to sidestreets, that’s fine (that does not mean that cyclists will automatically move with the bikelanes), but then should cars be not allowed on those same streets?

    JC’s way of reasoning would seem to propose such a solution, but I think it’s easy to tell that keeping certain modes of transportation off of certain streets is unrealistic.

  • Brian

    Duncan: That sucks the golf course gets in the way. Sheppard could really use bike lanes there.
    But in the downtown, I would rather be on residential streets. And despite what everyone says about all the one-ways, it’s not that bad really. Plan your routes ahead of time on Google Maps or use the Toronto Bike maps. I can now bike almost anywhere in downtown without seeing more than 50 m of pavement on a major road, and without backtracking. It just takes planning.

  • duncan

    Brian: Thanks, that section of Sheppard really illustrates the need to include all transportation options along arterial roads, especially outside of the downtown core. I’ve biked along there and crossing that bridge is not for the feint of heart.

    Yes and certainly, finding an efficient, safe and even enjoyable route downtown does take planning and some trial and error. BikingToronto has a great mash-up of Google Maps and the Toronto Bike Maps here: http://bikingtoronto.com/maps/bikelanes/

    Yet, I would much rather be able to plan a route that takes me where I want to go (often along our main streets) instead of having to plan around where I don’t want to go.

  • Really interesting discussion.

    I agree with Joe that the streets are for everyone there should be no ‘classes’ of users.

    I see Duncan’s point. I looked at the map. It’s not built in a way that would make it easy to build bike commuter routes off the dangerous and congested arterials.

    In my earlier contribution I was imagining a network of fast, safe and workable routes for commuters on bikes. Easier said than done I guess.

    When I bike couriered I was always looking for alternatives to arterials – and I found quite a few streets running parallel to majors that did the trick. Sometimes though there is no choice.

    For example, I had regular runs from the downtown core up to Eglington and Young. Young was the fastest, but dangerous and really hilly. At rush hour I used Bay – over to University just below Young, up Avenue Road to Heath, snake through to Lawton north to the park, through the park across Chaplin Crescent up Colin Ave to Eglington – Young is one intersection east.

    Sounds outrageous doesn’t it? It’s not. I might have added 5 minutes to my run but:

    – my stress level went way down
    – there’s a lot less carbon monoxide
    – a lot less NOISE

    It took time to find the route – but in the end I enjoyed my run instead of throwing in with the adrenaline rat race. That adrenaline filled stressiness was taking years off my life.

    I have found dozens of routes like this, and I’ll bet there’s are a lot of cyclists out there who have lots of examples.

    I would like for the city Cycling Committee, or a place like Biking Toronto to found a ‘mapping commons wiki’, where folks like me with alternative routes could ‘pencil’ in their favourite routes – as part of building a ‘safe route map’ for everyone. This data set would be an important resource for moulding the traffic grid of the the future.

    The thing is, cities were built after the Second World War for CARS – that was the bright, new, shiny idea back then; we know now that the model has many deficiencies.

    We understand now that users of urban places and the infrastructure that serves the people are constantly changing.

    Humans though, like it when things stay the same – we have to get over that. We have to create a planning infrastructure that is flexable and can renew itself by design. A mapping commons wiki of street users would be a big step in that direction – creating a living breathing planning process that can have revolutionary impacts on vested, obsolete constructs.

    Michael Holloway

  • Hey Brian I somehow missed your take in my read-through of the contributions.

    Right on man! I knew there were people like me out there! :)

    Michael Holloway

  • duncan

    Michael, you make many great points. When I had a car I’d take time to lay out my own routes to make sure I had the least congested route… although that something that is nearly non-existent in Toronto these days. By bike, our options open up greatly. We can take off-road paths, cut through parks and even take alleyways where they are present.

    In Toronto’s current state I’d always recommend traveling off the main roads to help keep you sane. Of course, I also imagine a day when a trip by bike down Queen Street is welcoming at first site.

    A mapping commons is a great idea. Here’s an initial resource that can allow you to create on-street routes, annotate them and share them with Google Maps: http://www.bikely.com/

    The only issue with this resource is that it doesn’t allow you to include off-road paths since this is Google Maps-based. For example, with the recently opened West Toronto Rail Path Park this trip from Symington to Union Station could look a little different than it does now:


  • Great comment Michael.

    I think it’s something we can definitely do at BikingToronto. Let’s set up a GoogleMap that is publicly editable and anyone and everyone can work on it to suggest “alternate” routes around the city.

    I’ll have to look at the security features though… don’t want anyone deleting any hard work of anyone adding their favourite routes to the map.

  • jamesschwartz

    The fact that some people here are proposing putting cycling infrastructure on side streets instead of major downtown streets illustrates a major flaw that many cities in North America have.

    Downtown streets should not be highways. By relegating cyclists to side streets (and I’m talking specifically about downtown – I’m not talking about Finch or Sheppard, etc.) we are resigning to a notion that our downtown streets should be efficient thoroughfares for automobiles.

    Cyclists are always going to ride on main streets because cyclists visit restaurants, go shopping, go to the movies, bars, etc. If we were to head down the path that Rossi apparently wants to take, Queen street would resemble Adelaide or Richmond.

    Downtown streets should belong to all users: pedestrians, cyclists, cars, taxies, streetcars, etc. (Some streets should be car-free, but this is a different argument for a different thread).

    Cyclists actually result in traffic calming on these streets, and to remove them would not be a positive thing (especially if we want to decrease the number of pedestrian fatalities).

  • Hear-hear James (or is it “here-here”?).

    Streets with slower traffic and more pedestrians and cyclists are not only safer and more attractive, but they are economically more successful too.

    This is exactly why Richmond and Adelaide are being re-constructed to be friendlier to those not in cars. For economic reasons. Cars don’t shop and people do… so it just makes sense to not cater to cars, which are a pretty inefficient way of moving large numbers of people.

  • Duncan,

    Thanks for the link to Bikely, perfect.

    In October I wrote a piece on off-main-road commuting and in writing the story found a user generated mapping site (Sport Distance Calculator) which also might be a handy reference for a project. (see bottom of this post)

    JoeT On setting up a GoogleMap that is publicly editable.

    In the Wikipedia model there are echelons of responsibility, and power. Users create reputation for themselves through their history and can become editors over time. When a new user makes a change the submission is held in a ‘bin’ to be reviewed by the editor community.

    I’m not familiar with manipulating Google maps. My wee computer can’t handle the rich media, so I haven’t gone there much; but I’m willing to assist in this project in any way I can. (new computer coming soon)


    Michael Holloway

  • It should be noted that Rossi instead wants bike lanes on “quieter” streets, which FYI is safer. While the RT Lines are great if federal and provincial funding isn’t committed then Toronto could be left with a huge tab that would end up costing the tax payer and TTC rider a lot. If we don’t want more fare hikes a then a review would be a sound decision.

  • Bikelanes on streets make them safer. Dundas East and Eastern Avenues are good examples of this.

    Having bikelanes on “secondary” streets would be fine… except due to all the rail lines, ravines, rivers and highways in Toronto, parallel routes to “major” streets don’t exist.

    Besides, why should I not be able to use the roads my tax dollars pay for? Is my money not as good because I’m on a bike? No… it’s just as good. :)

    As for the Transit City stuff… Rossi says that the only line he wouldn’t stop is Sheppard, but that’s the only line that the City is paying for. The other lines commited to (Eglinton and Finch) are being paid for by the provincial and federal governments. Rossi should’ve had his facts straight before making statements about things.

  • himysyed

    Hi everybody,

    Your ongoing conversation has already had an immediate impact for me as a candidate when talk turns to cycling and cars and a transportation strategy for the next 5 to 20 years across Toronto, and moreso in Ward 19 where I am running.

    Everything you all are posting on BikingToronto be they comments or weblinks, I am indeed following.

    Even though it is February and it should be very early in the campaign, people are asking me directly many questions, including ones on Cycling ( in large part to Mr. Rossi’s worldview ) that last time around, were being asked of me in late August and early September.

    This Toronto 2010 Election is already very different in expectation. Potential voters and some media are already hounding me for a complete platform and so forth.

    In short, it’s your turn in helping me understand what I can raise during the campaign and include in my official platform.

    Within my platform, cycling is a key part of my “Transit Citizen” strategy.

    Tangent from the Cycling discussion for a bit:

    About the Sheppard LRT Line, personally I find myself using the 190 Rocket Express bus from Scarborough Town Centre to Don Mills Subway Station numerous times a week.

    Anyone who travels or drives along the Victoria Park corridor would know that if there was any single new subway station that could be built in combination with the Sheppard LRT, it would be extending the Sheppard Subway line east from Don Mills Station to Victoria Park Avenue.

    ( With the open ended possibility of an interstitial station at Brian Village built late like North York Centre in-between Sheppard and Finch stations. )

    Many Many Many people get to Don Mills Station then bus it to Vic Park then exit there to then head north or south on the Vic Park bus.

    As for cycling from downtown where I live, to Scarborough Centre where I work, I’ll contribute to discussion once that comes up.

    To Be Continued…

    HiMY SYeD

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  • I L Ike Bikes

    I’m generally not opposed to bike lanes… where appropriate. What criteria does “Silly Hall” use to determine where bike lanes should go? For the last year I’ve noticed Rogers Rd (between Oakwood and Weston Rd) has had bike lanes. Almost 50% of the parking spaces have been taken out to accommodate bikers. I think I’ve seen less than 5 people using these lanes. You should see the line up of cars going east and westbound at Dufferin St., especially at rush hour. The lights have not been adjusted for the extra time now required to cross Dufferin. With this extra time the cars are idling longer which means more air pollution… exactly counter to the notion of using bikes. You’ll never get people out of their cars unless you implement a permit system like London, England and other European cities. However, what “brave politician” (an oxymoron) would vote for such a system.

  • Thanks for your comment.

    Just because you’ve seen less than 5 people using the bikelanes doesn’t mean they are empty. I often read that “no one uses the Wellesley Bikelanes”, yet I use them twice a day (and see lots of other people using them when I do)… so just because a driver in a car doesn’t see a cyclist during the couple of minutes they are on a road doesn’t mean no one uses the bikelanes.

    If you are truly worried about pollution, stop driving.

  • I think part of the issue is based in perception and visibility. We *know* cyclists aren’t generally visible and noticeable. That’s why so many folks recommend bright clothing, lights, etc. That’s why “SMIDSY (Sorry, mate, I didn’t see you)” is so often the response from a driver who hits a cyclist. Unfortunately, also, I think another side effect of this is that a cyclist who runs a red light, cuts off a driver, or is going the wrong way on a one way street is not only noticeable, but memorable. Thus while you don’t even register as a cyclist when you’re on the way to work in the Wellesley lanes, the guy who runs the light at Yonge, or the drunk weaving along Queen can’t *help* but be noticed. Add to that the fact that bike lanes put bikes in a more predictable (read: perceived as needing to worry less about them) space, and you won’t even have the memory of having to slow down or pass a cyclist. This is, of course, a problem at intersections and other places where folks are turning across the lane.

    I’d also assert that we notice things we’re tuned in to. When my partner and I first got married we rarely noticed anyone who was pregnant. It didn’t even show up on our radar. However, once *we* were expecting we all of a sudden noticed so many folks were pregnant. This wasn’t a birth rate increase, it was a change in awareness.

  • haha. We are going through the pregnancy noticing right now. Well, maybe just I am. Tracy’s always noticed that stuff.

    I *have* been noticing more baby product commercials on TV though. I think “are there more of these? Maybe I’m just staring to notice them now?”

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