This morning saw some of the candidates for mayor join the Toronto Cyclists Union for a little symbolic ride and press conference downtown today:
The 30 minute ride, which stayed within the downtown core, allowed candidates to experience almost the full range of scenarios faced on a daily urban commute by bicycle. The ride took candidates on arterials with bike lanes, without bike lanes, on roads with construction, roads scarred by utility cuts, on minor arterials, and on side streets…
Bicycles and helmets were provided by local bike merchants Curbside Cycle & Urbane Cyclist, upon request by some candidates. Deputy Mayor Joe Pantalone, who was not fortunate enough as a child to learn to ride, was welcomed along and accommodated by bicycle rickshaw. Along for the ride were Joe Pantalone, Rocco Rossi, Himy Syed, Rocco Achampong, Dewitt Lee, and Daniel Walker – Keith Cole stopped by but could not stay, and Mark State joined us for the press conference.
Good intention, I am sure. As Lizz Bryce has pointed out (very well), this was just a media event… a press conference wrapped up to look like a “commute”:
The press release from the Toronto Cyclists’ Union was positive: “The 30 minute ride, which stayed within the downtown core, allowed candidates to experience almost the full range of scenarios faced on a daily urban commute by bicycle.”
Except it didn’t. Not even close. The candidates were riding in a large group escorted by police– hardly representative of what I go through on my way to work every day.
What do you think? Is a police-protected group ride by mayoral candidates useful at all?