Archive for the ‘ Politics ’ Category

Complete Streets and Dutch Junction design

To most observers of Toronto politics, it was very surprising to see councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong, chair of the Public Works committee, come out (apparently on his own initiative) to advocate for a road design concept called complete streets. The Toronto Centre for Active Transportation (TCAT) defines complete streets as:

Complete Streets provide safe access for all road users including pedestrians, cyclists, public transit users, and motorists of all ages and abilities.

Given the councillor’s many storied run-ins with cycling advocates, his “ally” status of Mayor Rob Ford, and the generally suburban, auto-oriented prism through which he views transportation, it was indeed a surprise. I am not yet sure of his motivation, but Minnan-Wong is one of those local politicians that doesn’t necessarily stick to one side of the political spectrum.

Regardless, the formulation of Toronto’s complete streets guidelines is a positive step. Whether it leads to any real changes in the way that engineers design our streets is another matter. We are still in the hopeful phase.

It was while this news was appearing that I stumbled upon the video below explaining what blog Bicycle Dutch calls “Dutch junction design”. It is something I noticed throughout the Netherlands when I visited the country last September. Even as a visitor, unfamiliar with the Dutch signal system, it was very intuitive to use. The most danger I felt through these junctions was the potential for a collision with an aggressive cyclist!

A frequent excuse of road designers in Canada regarding European cycling infrastructure is, “well yeah, but we can’t do that here– we don’t have space”. This may be true on some roads where we have decided that driving and parking lanes are crucial. But what is most attractive to me about this concept is this: if you have room for bike lanes, you have room for a Dutch junction.

Evidently, there are some other aspects of the design that would have to be implemented at the same time, in order to make it function properly. Most notably, the video below explains how the signals are timed appropriately to maximize cyclist safety and minimize auto-cyclist collisions. It also occurs to me that this only works at an intersection of two bike lanes– a pretty rare phenomenon in Toronto.

[Edit: OK, I thought of a few, that could at least be pilots for this approach: Gerrard & Sherbourne; Wellesley & Sherbourne; College & Beverely/St. George; Harbord/Hoskins & St. George. Tried to think of/ find some suburban bike lane intersections, but the only one I could think of is a T-intersection– Conlins & Sheppard. Help?]

I think it’s a pretty useful design to keep in mind as we move toward complete streets in Toronto.

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On the Pharmacy and Birchmount bike lanes

Last week, the City of Toronto’s Public Works and Infrastructure Committee, chaired by councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong, voted in favour of this motion. It adds some separated bike lanes downtown, but also removes bike lanes in Scarborough at the behest of the local councillor, Michelle Berardinetti.

Ms. Berardinetti made traffic congestion her main campaign issue in the recent municipal election, which may or may not have delivered her a victory over the incumbent, Adrian Heaps. Like Rob Ford, she feels that her victory symbolizes widespread local agreement with her issue of choice (for Ford, it was subways vs. “streetcars”). Perhaps this is so– but I can think of other reasons. (“Traffic congestion is bad” is to local political rhetoric as “God Bless America” is to American political rhetoric). Activist Dave Meslin has a good perspective on Pharmacy and Birchmount lanes here. (Unfortunately his very reasonable amendments were not adopted by committee members.)

Certainly, errors were made in the way in which the bike plan has been implemented in Toronto. This is especially true in areas where residents are skeptical of their worth on high-speed, high-traffic arterial roads. Too often, lanes were built without connections to other cycling infrastructure, or built in short spurts where works crews were already working on the road. (It is also a result of a city unwilling to fully commit to true cycling infrastructure, like bike boxes and separated lanes).

Ms. Berardinetti’s main beef with the bike lanes seems to be that they were built with a “lack of community consultation”. Yet yesterday, fellow councillor John Parker (a member of the PWIC, who moved the motion to remove the Jarvis bike lanes) wrote a blog post for the Toronto Star’s cycling portal to justify his decision regarding Jarvis. In it, he writes:

Since 2001 the city of Toronto has had a comprehensive bike plan that envisions a network of bike lanes throughout the downtown area. It was drawn up after widespread consultation [emphasis mine] and was prepared by the city’s transportation services department together with Marshall Macklin Monaghan, one of Canada’s leading engineering firms.

For one councillor, it appears that consultation on the Toronto Bike Plan was sufficient (Jarvis lanes are not in the bike plan– hence Mr. Parker was using the Bike Plan as justification to remove the lanes). For Ms. Berardinetti, the fact that the Birchmount and Pharmacy bike lanes were planned from 2001 and finally painted in 2008 is, it would seem, irrelevant. That City staff have found that the Pharmacy and Birchmount bike lanes have had no effect on local traffic (pg. 15) is also lost on Ms. Berardinetti.

Pharmacy & Birchmount, the first bike lanes listed in the Bike Plan for Scarborough

The costs for removing these lanes is estimated by staff to be $210 000. That may not seem like much in a budget of $9-billion, but in Rob Ford’s Toronto, every penny counts, and is counted (supposedly). Ms. Berardinetti is hoping that the bike lane removal can be synchronized with pending road repairs, therefore resulting in no additional cost– however, the repairs are not proposed for the entire length of the lanes. If this synchronization fails, the councillor will have to explain to her constituents (“taxpayers” in the verbiage of the day) why she wants the city to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to remove infrastructure. She might also have to explain how her previous commitment to sharrows, in place of bike lanes on Birchmount and Pharmacy, fell off the agenda. This from the previously-linked Toronto Sun article:

“As for those bike lanes, rather than paint them over immediately, she wants to tackle them when the roads are resurfaced.

When that work happens, Berardinetti said she wants to see the dedicated bike lanes removed and shared lane pavement markings (sharrows) painted within the car lanes.

“I’m not against bike lanes,” said Berardinetti, an avid cyclist. “They had a mandate of laying down so much (bike lane) tread a year instead of having a concrete plan.””

Sharrows, while problematic, seem like a compromise here (though it still does not make a whole lot of sense to remove bike lane for sharrows). Will Ms. Berardinetti remember her previous musings? Or will council decide to kill an already-built portion of Toronto`s Bike Plan?

PWIC’s decision goes to Council on July 12-13.

Thoughts on the debate (and Sun newspapers)

Last night was the leader’s (English) debate– the one and only– of the 41st Federal General Election. I watched it in its entirety, though I admit I zoned out once or twice–like when Duceppe and Layton had their one-on-one debate (irrelevant but for a few small pockets of Quebec).

Stephen Harper did what he had to do: he stayed mostly calm in his defence of his government’s record, and looked the most “Prime Ministerial” out of the four (as he should– he’s the only one that has been PM). Jack Layton had it fairly easy as the leader of the third party– able to attack the Liberals for supporting the Conservatives numerous times (even though not supporting them would have meant bringing down the government) and attacking the Conservatives for everything else. Gilles Duceppe was his usual obnoxious self, in his 15th debate, cracking jokes about Harper answering questions from the public and talking as if he represented all of Quebec. The increasing irrelevancy of having a separatist leader in a federal debate should be discussed. Perhaps the consortium that makes the rules of the debate should consider changing it so that only leaders of parties that have a minimum number of candidates in each province should be allowed to participate.

Michael Ignatieff, meanwhile, in his first debate, struggled a little bit. At times, it seemed he was straying from the formula that had been working for him in this election and in his tours around the country– freely speaking without notes or a reliance on sound bites. Because of this repetition of sound bites in the debate, he came across as a bit ingenuine. However, it’s too early to say if that hurt him or not, as most people in the country didn’t watch all two hours. Perhaps some of his soundbites didn’t come across that way to the casual viewer.

While he struggled at some points to come up with the right words, I think he did have the best “clippable” remarks (like “It’s not bickering, it’s democracy” and (to Harper) “You are a man who will shut down anything you can’t control”). He also came across as angry with Harper, which might not have helped him win any votes on the right side of the spectrum, but certainly must have hardened the Liberal vote.

It’s too early to say if this debate will change anything. But it was certainly refreshing to see the leaders actually talk to each other and even stray from talking points.

Meanwhile, the Sun newspapers have run an editorial comparing Ignatieff to Chairman Mao, the murderous Chinese communist dictator. You should read it, if only to make clear to yourself that you should never take the Sun seriously, and you might want to ignore the new Sun TV News channel.

Cambridge mayor blasts planners for alleged bias

Tensions are growing ever higher in the Region of Waterloo’s debate over the future of rapid transit in the region. The October municipal election, during which politicians got an earful from residents, triggered the anger over the apparently large portion of the cost of a rapid transit system that the Region will be on the hook for.

It was expected that the provincial and federal governments would foot the majority of the cost of the system. For whatever reason, expectations were raised to this level somewhere along the way. (The “norm”, if there is one, for funding large infrastructure investments, is commitments of one-third from each level of government.) To expect that the Region could get a state-of-the-art rapid transit system for almost no cost to the local taxpayer was unreasonable in the first place.

In many ways, it is this unmet expectation of federal and provincial funds that brought on the debate the Region’s councillors and residents are now having. Local cost burden for the Kitchener-Waterloo LRT & Cambridge BRT is now estimated to be $235M, with property taxes to be increased over six years to pay the difference.

Cambridge mayor Doug Craig has become the most outspoken regional critic of the LRT + BRT scheme, saying it would shortchange taxpayers in his city, who would have to ride buses while those in Kitchener-Waterloo ride on modern trains. He, and voters, convinced regional council to reconsider a system of consisting entirely of buses in January. Planners presented a list of 10 options to the Planning and Works Committee on February 15, a list that consisted of one train-only option and one bus-only option, with the others being combined options. This list will now be subject to public consultation before the question of technology is put to council one more time.

LRT's capacity is a huge advantage

It would seem that the list is a fair account of the options before council and the Region, given that almost two years ago, the same council nearly unanimously approved the LRT + BRT scheme (exception being Mr. Craig). Yet Doug Craig and some other councillors do not see it that way. Commenting on the list, Mr. Craig said, “I expected this to be biased. I didn’t expect it to be over the top.” Other Cambridge councillors complained that the list was titled too much toward trains. In response, a councillor from Waterloo accused councillors from Cambridge as being affected by “Cinderella syndrome”, a false sense of being overlooked and neglected. Clearly, a formerly unified council and Region has become fragmented by differing visions of the future.

What disturbed me most as a not-quite-professional planner was the allegations of bias Mr. Craig made towards Regional planning staff. In comments he made after the meeting (rather than in it), Mr. Craig said:

“The whole report is awful… It is a sell job for LRT (light rail transit), plain and simple. And it’s embarrassing. They haven’t done it properly or without bias.”

My guess is he did not allege bias in his comments during the meeting because it would be much more serious if he did so. However, the comments are still of concern to the planners, as they attempt to take a fair and balanced approach to the issue.

The "biased" slide

That being said, Mr. Craig wondered aloud why planners chose to show an over-capacity Ottawa BRT system instead of empty LRT trains in Buffalo during the presentation. Perhaps he is right: planners should have let the facts speak for themselves rather than making the apples-to-oranges comparison of a dying, rustbelt city like Buffalo to a recession-proof government capital.

I have read the presentation, and apart from the pictures, it is mostly full of facts. BRT is a system that would only last for 20 years for the fast-growing region before it is clogging the roads with trains of buses, like Ottawa’s system. LRT costs more than BRT. LRT has a greater positive effect on property values, attracts more riders and employers, and has more benefits to the user. And perhaps most importantly, the number of existing or projected riders “south of Fairview Park Mall” (read: Cambridge) is far below that of Kitchener and Waterloo.

One could fault planners for trying to gussy up a presentation with photos. But one can hardly blame the planners for submitting a report that lays out the facts pretty clearly. Another fact that was in the planner’s report: Mr. Craig’s all-BRT option would cost only 15% less. For a system that would only last 20 years, selecting the all-bus option clearly sacrifices future budgetary concerns for short-term political and budgetary concerns. While Mr. Craig rejects LRT on the basis that it is unfair to Cambridge, clearly what is best for the long-term health of the Region is the proposed LRT + BRT.

You can see the slides the Region’s planners presented to the Planning and Works Committee here and the full report document here [both PDF].

Make a judgement of your own: is the report biased in favour of LRT?

Gordon Chong’s Fantasy Transit Land

The Toronto Star published an editorial submission today from former chair of GO Transit and vice-chair of the TTC, Gordon Chong. You should also know to start that he was a prominent member of newly-minted mayor Rob Ford’s transition team.

In this editorial, Mr Chong attempts to outline how Mr Ford’s vision for transit in Toronto can and should be accomplished. He, like the mayor, declares that Transit City needs to be altered and that Toronto should aim higher (not those congestion-causing “streetcars”, but subways). For someone most would consider an expert on these sorts of issues, he makes some glaring logical leaps and avoids current political and fiscal realities.

One glaring logical error is the much-ballyhooed “one-seat ride” for Scarberians. This has been a common salvo of critics of Transit City, who like to call it “Transfer City” because of the switch a rider may have to make from LRT to subway and vice versa. However, while it’s not clear how a Sheppard subway would work for Scarborough (because it’s not been planned), it is reasonable to assume that the Sheppard line would function separately from the Yonge line and the Bloor-Danforth line (and the SRT, assuming it either remains something other than subway). Hence, unless a rider is going from Scarborough Town Centre to North York Centre or somewhere right along Sheppard, they will not have a one-seat ride. A ride from Scarborough Town Centre to Yonge and Finch, for example, will still require two seats.

Without presenting the numbers, Mr Chong also tells us that before the Yonge Subway was built, the ridership numbers were not there to support it, and yet here we are today. Perhaps Mr Chong is not as experienced in the field of urban planning as he is transportation, because Sheppard Avenue of 2011 is not Yonge Street of the 1950s. Yonge street was an is an urban street, full of shopping, residents and entertainment venues. The majority of Sheppard Avenue’s

Much of Sheppard Ave. looks like this

surroundings are low-density residential subdivisions, zoned as such, and protected from development by the City’s Official Plan. This is why the LRT was such a pragmatic choice for Toronto’s suburban streets: only some of Sheppard is available for more intense population growth. To project that Sheppard would equal Yonge would more than likely mean a paradigm shift in north Scarborough’s planning landscape.

“But what about the money” you say? Mr Chong has a solution for that too:

We should beg, borrow or steal to finish what was started instead of settling for second best simply because it was on sale.

Financial constraints have been cited ad nauseam by various levels of government… However, funding then miraculously appears for some other vote-getting initiative.

Worse still, an auditor general reports on the enormous sums that are wasted or mismanaged annually, leaving the mendacious politicians with egg on their collective faces.

We should “steal” from those latent pots of money identified by the auditor general to build the Sheppard subway to the future.

Mr Chong has come up with an idea so brilliant that no one has ever thought of it before. Take all that money being wasted at all levels of government, throw it into one pot, et voila, a Sheppard Subway with no pain to you! This is such a problematic proposal, it’s almost impossible to know where to start with it. If this money is so easily attainable, why hasn’t this method been used to build all sorts of other goodies for us? For one thing, I would be willing to bet that Mayor Ford will give a tax cut with those savings before he builds anything. It is also very interesting to see a key member of Mr Ford’s transition team declare that the City should increase its debt level in order to build a Sheppard subway (remember that thing about “stopping the gravy train”?)

Don’t fret, disadvantaged people at Jane and Finch, Mr Chong has a solution for you too. Instead of a quick, reliable LRT line along Finch, Mr Chong proposes that we “settle for second best” (Mr Chong’s own slanderous words) in a big way by building a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) line through the Finch hydro corridor. It’ll be like a three-seat ride to get downtown, and it will be isolated from the street, but it will be dirt cheap and you get to ride on comfortable highway coach buses! (Now I’m getting snarky.)

While I can agree with some of Mr Chong’s sentiments (visionary subway building, helping captive riders, practical transit systems, and more for Scarborough), it is when his philosophies meet up with cold, hard reality that he loses me. One cannot simply ignore the fact that governments have chosen not to spend money on these types of projects. We all like to dream, but one also cannot flippantly make plans for transit without conducting studies to back it up (Mr Ford likes to do this, too). While Transit City has been studied to death, a Sheppard subway has been deemed unworkable before, and BRT lines have been built selectively due to the public’s distaste for buses of any kind.

Instead of dreaming up unrealistic financial schemes and dictating transit planning from the mayor’s office, Mr Ford and his team should be committing to the long-term vision that was (and is) Metrolinx’s Big Move. It is the only vision that has been put through its public paces and has met with political and fiscal realities.

We should beg, borrow or steal to finish what was started instead of settling for second best simply because it was on sale.

Toronto’s municipal election, the day after

If you don’t live in Toronto, or you live under a rock in Toronto, you may not have heard that last evening we elected a new mayor and 44 members of council (as well as school trustees). The big news is the changeover in ideology and personnel at City Hall, with many incumbent councillors being upset and a fully right-wing mayor being elected after two terms of left-of-centre David Miller.

While many in my circle (which is young, and generally more liberal) are outright shocked and appalled by the result, especially in the case of mayor. But we shouldn’t be shocked– polls have been predicting either a really tight race between George Smitherman (the progressive runner-up) and Ford, or an outright victory by Ford. So if we shouldn’t be shocked, should we be appalled? Perhaps.

Rob Ford has been described as many things. But I have not once heard him described as “progressive”. His platform reads like the basic conservative-minded handbook: he’s promising to cut taxes, cut spending, reduce the size of council by half(!) and, one of his favourite flourishes, “stop the gravy train at City Hall”. These points were repeated over and over and over again during the campaign. Political analysts are pointing to this as an example of how staying on message, no matter how ridiculous it may seem, can win an election. Rob Ford was able to frame the debate of this overly-long municipal campaign around frivolous expenses and disrespect for taxpayers (the slogan on his campaign signs was “Respect for Taxpayers”). Once he got started on that solid footing, it was an easy row to hoe. Despite his lacklustre and Stephane Dion-like platform videos on YouTube, which featured him reading his full-of-gigantic-holes policies stiffly and awkwardly, he still seemed to win the hearts of the majority of Toronto’s electorate.

Why was this? Some suggest it really was about ending the “gravy train” at City Hall. Others, meanwhile, suggest that it is part of a greater Conservative movement sweeping across the country (Ontario in particular) like the Tea Party in the United States. However, results in other Ontario municipalities, and Calgary last week, would suggest otherwise. The most common thing I heard about Ford is that he was “human just like us”. Early on in the campaign, Ford admitted to a DUI charge and posession of marijuana in Florida nearly a decade ago. For any other candidate, like Adam Giambrone, a scandal of that magnitude would have likely scuttled his or her campaign. However, for whatever reason, Torontonians saw it as not something that put into question Ford’s ability to lead a large city, but rather, evidence that he makes mistakes just like us. From then on, Ford’s handlers were able to write a story that included trials and tribulations but also dedication to service of community (Ford has famously claimed to have answered 200 000 calls from constituents during his time in public office).

Smitherman and Joe Pantalone, the other competitive candidate, were unable to make similar personal stories stick and connect with voters. Smitherman was easily framed as the former provincial cabinet minister that helped waste $1 billion on an electronic health records initiative; Pantalone, as a decades-long councillor and deputy mayor in the outgoing administration, was more of the same. As a result of his early lead in the polls, Ford was subjected to attack by Smitherman and Pantalone, taking them off-message, and giving more press to Ford in the process.

If so much of Toronto is pleased with Ford’s victory, what does that say about my circle of friends and colleagues? Are we out of touch? “Toronto Elites”? Or are we truly in the minority in terms of progressive thinking? I have thought about this, and it may be too quick to judge, but I have a strong inkling that Toronto’s seniors and baby-boomers were the ones who by and large voted for Ford. These are the folks most concerned about money– seniors are living on fixed-income pensions, baby boomers are trying to raise a family in the city, and the city’s taxes (seemingly) pile up while their own income does not. They are concerned about the future, but that future falls within the existing framework of the city. Everything “progressive” is seen as extra and frilly: green roofs, social services, waterfront revitalization, bike lanes, Transit City, and streetcars, as a few examples. Whereas I would tend to see these things as investments in the future, seniors and baby boomers are more concerned with their immediate future. They are less concerned with the general direction of the city in the 21st century, and more concerned with getting their fair share of services and keeping elected representatives on a short leash.

I am not saying that almost no one below the age of 30 voted for Ford. What I am saying is that I believe the numbers will show the vast majority of people under 30 did not. We know from previous elections that seniors tend to vote in greater number than young folks, which means the results become even more skewed toward Ford. It was interesting to see television coverage of the Twitterverse reaction to the results– hosts reacted with shock that, by their estimation, 90% of the Twitter reaction to a Ford mayoralty was negative. After last night, I am even more inclined to believe that Twitter in the Toronto context is mostly an orgy of liberal-minded people, that is nowhere near representative of the city. (After all– who is the average Twitter user? Certainly not your 58-year old baby boomer nearing retirement). Whereas Twitter and Facebook were seen as crucial to Calgary’s election of Naheed Nenshi by getting out the youth vote, social networking did not seem to affect Toronto’s election in the least.

So if progressives want someone to “blame”, who or what should it be? Is it Pantalone, who by staying in the race to the end, split the progressive vote? (Smitherman would have defeated Ford if all of Pantalone’s votes went to Smitherman, but that is a big if.) Is it the Liberals of Toronto, who failed to draft a suitable candidate worthy of defeating Ford? Is it David Miller and his so-called “gravy train”? Or is it simply an anti-incumbency attitude? To me, it could be a combination of these things. But my initial reaction is that Toronto’s seniors and baby-boomers, who are short-sighted, ideological rather than idealistic, and grumpy, have shown up in droves and shown the door to progressive thinking in the mayor’s chair in Toronto, for at least four years.

I am now wondering what an ageing population means for future elections. Are we youth, who are mostly progressive, going to be suppressed in future elections by the senior majority? Or is this just a flash in the pan?

It will be interesting to see how Ford as Mayor plays out. He has got a council with a lot of new faces, but the ideological balance remains mostly the same. Upcoming battles with the province over Transit City in the context of the 2011 provincial election will be the most interesting thing to watch in my opinion. More on that in a later blog post.

Joe Warmington is angry

In an article published today, September 1, Joe Warmington gets worked up about a 2.5 km bus bypass lane on the Don Valley Parkway. I mean really worked up.

Normally, I don’t mind a bit when a columnist has a strong opinion. Usually they are honest, fact-driven and more often than not, help me reflect on my own opinion of the issue. However, when the column is so full of falsities, needless slander and misrepresentations of facts, I have a huge problem.

First, some background. Back in May, the City’s Public Works and Infrastructure Committee looked at the proposed GO bus bypass lane, which would run, north and south, from the Lawrence Ave. interchange to approximately 450 m north of the York Mills Rd. interchange. The lane, as proposed, would be on both sides of the road, and help make GO bus trips during rush hour a little faster.

I think it is a pretty widely accepted notion that transit systems should have priority over private automobiles where possible. Riders are decreasing the environmental cost their travel puts on the city’s air, and are also helping to decrease congestion by not using their own private automobile.

However, Mr Warmington seems to have missed this completely. Instead of a cost-effective way to decrease travel time and harmful emissions, he sees the lane as “another fishing hole” for Toronto’s police to exploit, and another battle in the fictitious “war on the car”. This is because there is an $85 fine for mis-use of the lane. What Mr Warmington ignores is the fact that previous to being a bus bypass lane, this piece of highway was a shoulder– not to be used by motorists except in emergency situations– which remains the case today. Even before the lanes were painted on, any motorist who decided to travel on the shoulder would have been subjected to a fine. Or is he suggesting that the shoulder should not exist?

Next, Mr Warmington attacks the cost of these lanes. $120 000, he infers, is just another example of council wasting your hard-earned money. He says that cost is paid by you–the Toronto taxpayer– and you should be outraged. However, he contradicts his own newspaper, which in a May article, says the cost will be “funded entirely by Metrolinx”. Now I suppose I am splitting hairs a little bit here, because Metrolinx is a provincial agency, and Torontonians pay tax to the provincial government. But the cost is ultimately borne by all of Ontario.

Mr Warmington goes on to say that “all this really does is make your life harder”. I assume when he is talking about “your life” it is about you, the motorist who so bravely and valiantly tackles the DVP every day. However, he is wrong again. This will make your life no harder. This lane didn’t exist before, so it’s not being taken away from motorists. Instead, you, the driver, won’t get stuck behind that slow, stinky GO bus. Not to mention the fact that it will make life easier for the people that take one of those buses (kudos to Mr Warmington, who actually makes this point).

Really, this article was an opportunity Mr Warmington saw to slay some of the demons that have been bothering him in recent months. First he refers to the “bicycle-socialists” that have dreamed this up “to help pay for some new environmentally-friendly bunny suits”, a reference to an incident of alleged misspending by a councillor on rabbit mascot suits. Then, he pities the poor, “ostracized motorist” that “no one seems to care about”, all the while having “20 minutes stolen from the north Toronto commuter on Jarvis St. thanks to the new bike lanes built for Councillor Kyle Rae’s 100 cycling friends”. Nevermind that those quotes are contained in one, run-on sentence, the supposed facts contained in the thought are just plain wrong. The City has not tested the traffic impact of the new bike lanes yet (because it’s summer) but they are projected to cause a maximum of 2 minutes to be added to an automobile commute. Meanwhile, bikes are not taking up an entire lane, and everyone is safer.

Is the motorist in Toronto really “ostracized”? In some parts of the city, it is more difficult to drive than it is to walk or cycle. In other parts, mostly the inner suburbs, it is downright dangerous to walk or cycle because the automobile so dominates. Sure, prices are going up for gas, for insurance, for cars themselves, and traffic is always getting worse, so I can see how Mr Warmington can get confused. But drivers are far from “ostracized”. If anything, the cyclist and transit rider are ostracized by Mr Warmington, who is suggesting that cyclists should only travel on routes that already have bike lanes, and bus passengers should have to suffer equally with single-driver automobiles stuck in traffic.

What really grinds my gears is when Mr Warmington refers to “regular people”– the mythical group of Canadian politics. The beauty of using this term is that it refers to anyone the reader wants it to– or anything the writer wants it to. In this case, “regular people” are hard-working, law-abiding, overtaxed motorists. Not hard-working, law-abiding, overtaxed transit riders. No, you see, they are being “protected and serviced by public sector service workers making close to or more than six figures”, surely another one of Mr Warmington’s City Demons.

He once again forgets that so-called “struggling families” (only those that drive cars, remember) can avoid this new $85 fine simply by not driving on the shoulder, just as they have been.

Really, there are so many generalizations, misrepresentations and undeserved slaggings in this article that I could have written three more posts about it. But Mr Warmington is right about one more thing: “The truth is there really is no war at all”. No war. No spending controversy. Just an efficient use of taxpayer dollars that will make a real difference for GO bus passengers.