TCAC should not be saved.

Today I read Ms.Tammy Thorne’s piece, “Why the Toronto Cycling Advisory Committee Should be Saved”, over at BlogTO. It is without a doubt the most disheartening cycling non-sense I have read by a country mile. I am alarmed by the case she has made to keep the Toronto Cycling Advisory Committee (TCAC). There are some serious questions that need answering.

Ms.Thorne states, “…Active engagement of citizens is the hallmark of any great city, and many of our greatest neighbourhoods within the city of Toronto…” While TCAC’s terms of reference encourages TCAC in “…holding meetings in different areas of the City to encourage participation from all areas of the City…” they never left downtown. Why? Simply because the chair at the time, former councillor Adrian Heaps decreed that “We are not a traveling road show” and would make things difficult for staff to travel to other parts of the city. There are people, including those in the cycling community, walking around clueless as to why people living out of downtown are so disenfranchised with City Hall. Clueless as to why so many people who live out of downtown voted for Rob Ford. They are even more clueless when words like racism, bigotry, and elitism are used by people who are ignored by City Hall. The actions of TCAC are some of the very reasons the resentment exists in the cycling community outside of downtown. Also remember, if you treat people like shit for years do not expect them to come to your defence. While Ms.Thorne may be correct in a general sense that, “Eliminating these committees will further isolate City Hall from the citizens it is supposed to represent and respect”, TCAC has done a superb job of isolating many cyclists from City Hall. Do not lump TCAC in with other better run committees to hide TCAC’s shortcomings.

“The best way to empower the community is to ensure there is a physical and psychological presence in the area,…” Adrian Heaps, Scarborough Mirror, December 12th, 2006

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Posted in Politics | Tagged BlogTO, , Heaps, Tammy Thorne, TCAC

Spinning Ford round and round.

Dave Meslin tried to put a good cyclnig spin on Toronto’s new mayor, Rob Ford, in the Toronto Star the other day. I am in agreement with Meslin that Ford is not all that bad. Well as far as cycling goes… the rest is for someone else to take up. In fact, in terms of cycling Mayor Ford will not be any worse or better than our last mayor, David Miller. What Meslin failed to point out was that Mayor Ford will be giving his supporters exactly what Mayor Miller gave cyclists. Just a lot of round and round with no progress. Johnny-come-lately’s do not count, ie Jarvis.

Meslin offers this as proof that Ford is cycling friendly. “…Ford proposed “a comprehensive network of bicycle trails across the city to provide a safe, convenient ‘backbone’ for bicycle transportation across Toronto.” ” Where did this ‘backbone’ talk come from?

“Bicycle transportation must be accommodated in the safest possible way — and without impeding traffic —by providing separate rights-of-way for bicycle commuters and recreational cyclists…”

Most of the councillors supporting Ford used ideas proposed at ‘Get Toronto Moving’ with Councillor Berardinetti being the most blatant about it. While their plans may seem reasonable to some people and even cyclists, I urge those people to take a deeper look at what they are proposing. Along with that the cycling backbone comes beside it.

There will never be another freeway built within Toronto. Ford is simply dangling out the possibility that ‘Get Toronto Moving’ proposals will become reality to garner votes. This approach should be very familiar to cyclists. Mayor Miller and his Pinkos dangled the Bike Plan from a stick throughout his term. End result, the Fords and cyclists will get nothing but half-assed and half-complete implementations.

Meslin also talks about “working together” to get things progressed. This approach is well supported and has proven successful in other jurisdictions. It will work here too provided cyclists are not like the mouse who is working with the cat as to what time the mouse becomes dinner.

What cost separated bike lanes?

There is much excitement over a ‘new’ plan to install separated bike lanes in the downtown area. Surprise too as this plan came from Mayor Rob Ford’s team, though apparently the Mayor has distanced himself from it if you believe the latest rumours.

It is hard to look a gift horse in the mouth. Separated bike lanes would encourage more people to ride and would be a positive development. There are issues with separated bike lanes. Yes they keep errant motor vehicle traffic away from you but also trap you in a narrow space. There too is always some ingenious dumb ass who figures out who to park in a separated bike lane. Combine that with the narrow space and you have nowhere to go. This I think could easily be forgiven by the fact that at the end of day the benefits would outweigh the negatives. Once more people are riding there will be no choice but to create wider and better facilities. One of my pet peeves though is that this plan is aimed at downtown. It does nothing to help mend the disconnected bike routes out of the downtown area. This area out of the downtown is where cyclists are being predominately killed and seriously injured.

On the political side I will be a little more… um… cautious. This is a brilliant move by Mayor Ford’s team. As long as it is dangled out there like a carrot the pinko councillors have little common ground to share with cyclists. Hard to criticize a mayor for doing something the pinko councillors could not do themselves while in majority. Mayor Ford could probably get a solid year out of this plan before having to admit it was all for naught.

I would be quite happy to be wrong on this issue but can anyone trust the Ford team twits after their Twitter stunts during the election?

Cyclists are headed to the ravines.

After Smitherman or Ford are crowned mayor on Monday, we are headed straight to the ravines. Both their plans for cyclists are essentially similar. Get cyclists off the roads and stick them into the parks and ravines for their own safety. Depending on how much you weight cycling issues in your choice for mayor, this may or may not matter to you. If it does, the choices are grim. If the polls are accurate, you have two leading contenders followed by a third who would need a miracle to win. All three are bad apples. There are a few very interesting so-called “fringe” candidates who do not have the money to get their message out.

Smitherman has enjoyed a mostly free ride by people’s fear of having Rob Ford as mayor. People will vote for him just because they do want Ford as mayor. To his credit he does have some vision but nothing that inspires. None of the top three for that matter seems to inspire anyone.

Ford. He is the best example of why the left or “progressives” have failed. In the beginning most of the left’s criticism of Ford has been about his girth. No one thought that his ideas would catch on so easily or that he would even be a threat. He was well entrenched in voters’ minds before anyone started to examine his plans. So much so that lying about a drunk driving conviction was ignored. If you can believe what you read in the major media, he did the best job in using modern campaigning techniques like having “town halls” on the telephone. The Toronto ‘left’ have never grasped the fact that people, regardless of their political stripe, also want accountability.

Pantalone is just offering more of the same. This just results in people asking, “Where did that get us?” Mayor Miller and company did good things but for some reason seemed afraid to make it be known. They tried to make everyone happy about any decision they made. This either resulted in paralysis or no one being happy. Ford on the other hand has taken a position and stuck with it. He probably best understands which friends to keep and which enemies to make. Pantalone seems a little out of touch too with trying to reinvigorate Miller’s severely beaten dream. The ‘right’ simply was allowed to walk over any initiative unchallenged. Pantalone became lost to me when he was whining about his uninvited opponents attending the Labour Day Parade. He lost an opportunity to show he was a better mayor or at least a better political tactician.

The above is all meaningless. We are headed to the ravines which we will probably have to share with the new freeways they will build through them. Do not count on a council to help either. It too seems like it will shift ideologically towards sending cyclists to the ravines.

If you too are tired of the ‘left’ and the ‘right’, look at ‘visions’ being touted by the fringe candidates. There are a few gems out there. Best ones I have seen so far are HiMYSYeD and Kevin Clarke. I do not know if the latter is actually registered this time. I have seen several signs for him though downtown, albeit hand written in chalk on the sidewalks. He does speak quite well.

Four years ago I heard someone comment that if one wanted to be a good visionary candidate for mayor in 2010 they would have to spend the next four years working on it. Guess no one took the advice. Maybe this mess will be a wake up call for 2014?

Posted in Politics | Tagged , HiMYSYeD, Pantalone, Smitherman