HOW TO WASTE COSTLY ROADS
It was a neighbour driving me to a heart test in early morning who raised the subject of Bloor bike lanes, an issue so stupid I had shoved it to the back of my anger file.
We were zipping along Bloor from Royal York and Bloor to Toronto General, a trip that took only 20 minutes even though there were already a few cyclists screwing up a quarter of a block of traffic around each of them.
I said that Bloor was such a valuable traffic artery that I had written that at a minimum cyclists be banned during the morning and evening rusher.
But now we have Toronto council, that clutch and grab of politicians with an anti-car majority, looking with approval on a Bloor bike lane from Shaw to Avenue.
That, of course, would be just the start. Bike zealots will be after Bloor and Danforth to have bike lanes from Mississauga to West Hill.
The Star ran a strange opinion piece on this because it confuses an ideal of useful comment by settling for just the pro and anti side of issues. This falls into the Equal Time For Hitler trap since such media practitioners are giving equal time and space to the good solution and then to the stupid or even the evil side.
There are several arguments that can be made in most issues, particularly in urban affairs. I hate to be logical in this case because there is nothing logical or particularly democratic about bike lanes when drivers and vehicles which pay considerable taxes to use roads are forced to share them with a mouthy minority - that is very mouthy and very small group - who freeload on the great majority with green arguments about healthy exercise and reducing congestion.
Ironically, the best way to reduce congestion is to reduce bike lanes or eliminate them.
Wow, I thought. Nirvana is coming to Bloor.
Their main argument? "By making biking safer, the lane would encourage folks to leave the car at home and cycle more frequently to work or school. It would encourage exercise, reduce congestion and improve the air...."
Well you get the idea. The usual argument from the usual suspects!
Let's break down who constitutes these "folks." To start with, their median age is 40. If you wish to dive a little deeper into demographics, there are over five million Canadians over 65 and over six million Canadians under 14. That means almost a third of Canadians are definitely not into daily cycling along Bloor because of age or safety reasons. And just how many of the 67% in the 15 to 65 age group, such as the older women, would commute regularly by bike even if it was easier.
Now let's include Canadian weather which has been described as 10 months of winter and two months of bad skating. Just a joke but let's settle for half the year when cycling isn't that great.
Now let's include the number of hours when the dark doesn't make many of us comfortable when we bike.
That shrinks the number of people who would use a Bloor bike lane to a tiny fraction of the vast numbers who will be inconvenienced by them.
No wonder that StatsCan found in the last survey of commuting in 2011 that a minuscule 1.3% biked to work. Yet the zealots would argue that if there were more bike lanes, that figure would rise, maybe even to the 5.7% who walked to work.
Remember that these figures are based on urban living in cities and towns where it is 99.9 % easier to bike or walk to work.
Obviously the reality because of the traffic hell that is downtown Toronto is that the city should be concentrating instead on improving traffic for the TTC and other vehicles.
Any move to take more of the expensive asphalt and give it only to a few fitter cyclists who don't have to cart goods or children or the aged is so silly, in the future they will look back at us and laugh.