Cyclist or Road Kill? Why is the Ward 18 Councillor So Silent?

Every week Toronto grapples with pedestrian and cyclist deaths.  Toronto Council is debating the issue but every day that goes by means death to someone out there in our diverse city.  There is no absolute fix to the problem since both drivers, pedestrians and cyclists unfortunately share the blame of the bloody battle of the car vs. the rest of us.  Before we write off any attempt at being creative with a solution that will save lives we need to look closely at some key factors including some very under reported facts that should sway the discussion.

There was a time, not to long ago, that our city streets could manage a low volume of cars racing around the city but that has all changed.  There are wayyy more cars on exactly the same streets and we like to call this phenomonon congestion.  Toronto still treats the car as king but the problem is the driver, not the car.  People are in a rush or distracted while driving and they're driving to fast.  Forty kilometers an hour is to fast in our neighbourhoods.  Fifty kilometers an hour creates a guaranteed metal killing machine.  Sixty kilometers an hour is insane, but drivers still do it.  We see it every day.  Moms with kids in the back seat, a heavy truck that has ignored the "No Trucks" signage, a Mercedes driver headed back to Richmond Hill, etc.  Speed kills but there is no sign of dropping speed limits in neighbourhoods and if you actually do want to change the speed limit on your street you'll have to BEG your Councillor for it who will then make you work harder for it by bringing in a petition signed by X number of residents.  A truly concerned Councillor would take the initiative after examining it briefly and making the change but that might upset people which is code for "I might lose votes".  If votes are more important than your safety what type of City Council do we have?  Bottom line is drivers need to slow down and it will require a strong Council to make this change which we don't seem to have at the moment.  It's doubly sad to think that Ward 18 is a cycle haven and the Councillor for Ward 18 is practically silent on the issue.

Why do urban cyclists get frowned on?  Cycling isn't just for kids it's actually a very valid form of transportation for many people in the inner-city where the local bakery is a 2 minute bike ride away, no need for a car and sure, that's a benefit of being able to live downtown but we shouldn't be punished by the outlying Councillors voting against bike lanes because of a weird perception that bike lanes take up road space.  Cyclists use less road space which in turn means less maintenance which in turn saves the City some money.  Remember this, the road maintenance budget for Toronto is in the millions and millions of dollars annually which makes you wonder why everyone was freaking out when a bike lane on Jarvis might of cost us $250K?  So, bike lanes need less maintenance attention.  Cycling does not burn any fossil fuels, completely clean.  Cyclists are getting physical excercise which in turn means healthier people and hopefully less of a drain on the medical system.  Cyclists are quiet, making one less noise in this naturally noisy city of ours.  Bike lanes are needed everywhere in Ward 18 and that RailPath bike path should be a top priority yet the Councillor for Ward 18 is almost as silent as our cyclist friends.  That RailPath could blaze the future of cross town cycling yet years have passed and no one is getting it done and we keep losing lives on the road.  Cyclists should be held up as shining examples of the future instead of being admonished by the likes of Don Cherry who said "I’m wearing pinko for all the pinkos out there that ride bicycles and everything..."

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