The cycle community needs to project a united and coherent message out to the voters of the city to get what we all need; a city that moves, and moves safely.
It is important that we cyclists have the ears of the thoughtful voters of the city right now; a united, effective message.
Towards a better understanding here’s something I’ve been thinking about recently:
Unfortunately for cycling infrastructure planning there is not just one Toronto, there are two – the old and the new: The “Graph Paper” grid – the black box on the map – and the “Squiggly Grid”, which is everywhere else.
The Great Divide: The old Graph Paper Grid meets the new Squiggly Grid at Taylor Creek, East York near Dawes Road
As such, planning a cycling infrastructure that works needs to first understand what we’re dealing with so cyclists aren’t talking at cross purposes. The conversation needs to be based on the infrastructure as it is; and going forward how to make changes that are possible as per how cyclists and cars use these two very different kinds of traffic grids – differently.
In the core of the city the road grid is like a page of graph paper; it’s easy to find off-arterial streets that work as direct, convenient, safe Bikeways.
In my opinion, these side streets that can be chosen to be Bikeways need to be “Enabled” to attract cyclists off the main streets, which are extremely dangerous, and to make driving a car on them a pain in the ass (sort of exactly opposite to the way things are now). These Bikeways on the old grid need lights where they cross main streets (and timed for bikes where possible) bike centric governance like Yield signs instead of 4-Way stops, no speed bumps in the shoulders, and painted solid bikeway lanes – to name a few ideas.
Then there’s the newer transportation infrastructure that is characterized by a grid of wide, highway type roads, about 2 kilometres apart, lined with boxes of separated neighbourhoods with roads that are full of curly-cues, circles and culdesacs – and that exit onto the arterial roads only at a few places. Here in my opinion and off the top of my head, Bikeways need to be two-way separated bike only roads *beside* the sidewalk and separated from arterial traffic by a physical barrier. People who actually live in these areas may have different and better ideas on this.
Notes from Toronto City Council Meeting – December 8th 2010
Posted Friday, December 9, 2010
I watched the entire 5 hour City Council meeting for December 8th (RogersTV posts video of all City Council meetings) . Here are some notes I took relating to the level of democracy with in the new (2006) “Strong Mayor” era of council, and cycling issues.
The meeting approved the Striking Committees recommendations for the Executive Committee.
Mayor’s Office asks city manager to expedite time it takes to get the city budget passed into law (confusing fiscal-conservatism with rushing around?). On January 10, 2011 the executive Committee will present a city budget of 36 Billion dollars to the public and council for approval.
I sensed from the questions being asked that there was a fear that the new fast track budget protocol the Mayor has asked for (he says is to increase the productivity of the delivery of services), is designed to force through cuts in services – and pointedly – the cutting of certain committees – like the Cycling Committee and the Pedestrian Committee.
Councilor Janet Davis had a good point – the are ZERO (0) women chairing the Standing Committees.
Council elected 2 females of the 4 at-large members they could elect to the Executive Committee, Jaye Robinson and Michelle Berardinetti (the anti-bike-lane councilor from Pharmacy Avenue).
Josh Matlow (Ward 22 St Paul) – while addressing amendments to the Striking Committees recommendations – told of how he felt the learning curve was dizzying and added that people were asking ‘how he intended to vote on specific issues over the next 4 years’. (To this reporter this indicates that neither side on the 416/519 divide thinks it has a majority. We may see a dictatorship of liberals on this council. In war, a liberal is the last person you want watching your back.)
Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker proposed an amendment to increase the size of the Zoo Board of Management in order to include himself because the Striking Committee didn’t – (even though he discovered that captive animals at the Zoo make poo which you can create bio-fuels with – [methane gas - which by the way Glenn - adds to the Cities Carbon Footprint when you burn it, and reduces Co2 in the air when you leave it where you found it ... didn't anybody ever tell you not to eat the yellow snow?] – and feels like his brilliant contributions warrant some flexibility in the Fascistic recommendations process) – was voted down, but it was close.
Other councilors brought up the idea of ‘institutional memory’ (having councilors with a lot of experience on a certain issues remain in those responsibilities as it brings great value to projects.
On it’s first political vote of it’s life this council narrowly defeated this crazy idea.
Thinking perhaps that the boot-stomping leadership might take offense – insecure perhaps that their agenda was just an expression of a personality disorder rooted in the belief that they may all be secretly gay and like bullies turn down the thermostat even further as a ‘cost saving measure’. (Councillors were wearing coats at one point – some joked, ‘cost savings?’ – The problem was fixed )
A Council Divided? Vote to amend Striking Committee’s Toronto Zoo Board of Management recommendation – defeated 24 – 21
Ten of the record fourteen rookie councilors sign on to a motion, introduced by the bright, incisive Kristyn Wong-Tam, to expand the time councilors have to consider the fast-track budget as Mayor’s Office proposes new condensed budget process. The motion was referred to the Executive Committee for consideration (which I bet means it ill never see a vote). A motion by the Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday to distance the council meetings, one from another, to allow for consultations in councilors Wards was also referred “up stairs”.
The entire 36 Billion city budget will be considered at the same time. Councilors demanded Mayor’s Office move public consultation to after full, line by line report is released which will allow them to talk possible cuts through with constituents.
For an hour Councilors ask questions of the City Manager that seemed directed towards determining weather council will have time under the new speeded up formula to do their necessary due diligence. This reporter thinks that they think the Executive Committee may be trying to barrel through with cuts in services before the public/media can digest them.
(This was funny, so I wrote it funny:)
Mayor’s Office proposes cutting ‘crappy’ sandwiches laid on for late Council meetings.
Move to save $1.39 each bid to achieve balanced $36 Billion, 2011 budget.
Deputy Mayor suggests a pay cart – not a peep is heard – council votes against free crappy sandwiches when they work into the evenings.
A motion to break for an hour was mentioned as an alternative – but no motion was put forward to that effect at this meeting.
In an earlier article here I tried to predict which way this new City of Toronto Council would swing on bicycling issues. I made a colour coded quick-reference table that tries to show all the changes at City Hall after the October 25th election. The election saw a record 14 new councilors elected (5 incumbents were defeated – 9 replaced councilors who retired from city politics).
In that post I promised to keep an eye on this new Council going forward because Mayor Rob Ford said he thinks cyclists killed in traffic accidents deserve their lot for riding their dam “pinko” bikes on our ‘car-roads’ (paraphrasing).
On Tuesday December 7 City council held their first meeting (see city council meeting agenda). As I’m sure everyone is aware – it’s the meeting where Don Cherry disrespected the institution the best he could with his half-literate inflammatory rhetorical ramblings about the right/left political divide which is likely to mark this council.
Earlier, Joe T posted a link to a video of Cherry’s rant here at BikingToronto.
On Wednesday Council meet again to vote on the appointment of several of them to the all-powerful Executive Committee; a sort of Board of Directors of the Rob Ford Corporation.
‘What’s that you say? The City has an Executive Committee? Never heard of it!’
Well, neither had I until September 2010, so I did some research:
In 2006 The City of Toronto reorganized itself in order to get things done. It’s now a dictatorship of the majority. This makes sure that there is continuity from year to year on big projects. Like “Transit City” for example – and like getting rid of “Transit City”, that this Administration set the wheels in motion to begin to do.
To make this happen the 2006 council decided to make the Mayor much more powerful than in the old City Council. A Super Mayor.
The Executive Committee is part of the structure of the powerful Office of the Mayor. I liken to the Board of Directors of a Corporation and the Mayor like the Chief Executive Officer of that Corporation.
Or, you can see as an analogy to the Republican system of Government in the United States. A “Republic” is based on a balance of powers between three separate, but equal, branches of government:
The “Mayor’s Office” as I will hence-forth refer to it, is the Executive Branch, The City Council is the Legislative Branch and the Judicial Branch are the laws of Canada – and, as the City of Toronto is an entity of the Province of Ontario, the laws that govern such entities as passed by the Provincial Parliament and executed by the staff at City Hall.
On Tuesday, December 1st Rob Ford became Mayor of Toronto. On that day his transition team was re-named as the Striking Committee, a legal entity in the new City Council. Their job is to recommend Chairs of all the Committees of Council. Those committee chairs will automatically be on the Executive Committee.
The Executive Committee is composed of the Mayor, the Deputy Mayor, the Chairs of all the Committees of City Council – plus four members at large.
“The Executive Committee makes recommendations on Council’s strategic policy and priorities, governance policy and structure, financial planning and budgeting, fiscal policy including revenue and tax policies, intergovernmental and international relations, Council and its operations, and human resources and labour relations.”
The Executive Committee
Mayor Rob Ford (Chair)
Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday (Vice-Chair & Chair of the Employee and Labour Relations Committee.)
Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti (Chair, Community Development and Recreation Committee)
Councillor Michael Thompson (Chair, Economic Development Committee)
Councillor Paul Ainslie (Chair, Government Management Committee)
Councillor Cesar Palacio (Chair, Licensing and Standards Committee)
Councillor Norm Kelly (Chair, Parks and Environment Committee)
Councillor Peter Milczyn (Chair, Planning and Growth Management Committee)
Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong (Chair, Public Works and Infrastructure Committee)
Councillor Michelle Berardinetti
Councillor Mike Del Grande (Chair, Budget Committee.)
Councillor Jaye Robinson
Councillor David Shiner
Could mean Mayor Ford may have to hold a vote on Transit City after all…
On Tuesday in amongst the branding exercise that was Don Cherry’s appearance at the first meeting of council, Mayor Ford suggested that council hadn’t ever voted FOR Transit City – so the new Subway Mayor didn’t think he needed a vote at City Council to kill it (Toronto Star Tuesday, December 7, 2010: “No need for council vote on Transit City, Ford suggests“).
In January 2009, Council dealt with a report on the proposed extension of the Yonge Subway to Richmond Hill. Among the motions approved at that meeting was the following:
3. City Council direct the City Manager and Chief General Manager of the TTC to commence discussions with Metrolinx, the Province of Ontario, York Region and Government of Canada for the purposes of securing the appropriate funding and service agreements on the basis of the following requirements:
l. Metrolinx be requested to prioritize the Downtown Relief Line within its 15-year plan, noting that Transit City is the first priority for the Toronto Transit Commission and the City of Toronto; and
The clause above was inserted via an amendment from then Commissioner Suzan Hall which itself amended text proposed by Councillor Michael Thompson. This carried 32:11 with the recorded vote as follows:
In favour: Ainslie, Ashton, Augimeri, Bussin, Carroll, Cho, Davis, De Baeremaeker, Del Grande, Di Giorgio, Filion, Fletcher, Ford, Giambrone, Grimes, Hall, Heaps, Jenkins, Lindsay Luby, McConnell, Mihevc, Miller, Moeser, Moscoe, Nunziata, Palacio, Pantalone, Perks, Rae, Saundercook, Thompson, Vaughan
In the final vote on the item with all of its amendments, the vote was 42:2 with only Councillors Kelly and Mihevc(!) opposed, and Councillor Feldman absent. Joe Mihevc was voting against the Richmond Hill subway.
Therefore, Council has explicitly voted on the priority of Transit City, and this has been supported by now-Mayor Ford on both occasions. Thanks to those who dug up these references.
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I manage two blogs here at BikingToronto: "@Blog_FreeWheel" and the "Toronto/GTA Bicycle Route Mapping Wiki". The Blog and the Wiki are two sides of a coin - the blog to discuss bicycle routes and the politics of bicycle routes - and the Mapping Wiki to publish bike route maps contributors and I have discovered to help city planners, cycling advocates and road users to choose and advocate for, safe and efficient cycling routes on Toronto's busy and dangerous car-centric infrastructure.