Tuesday, July 30, 2013



Do you ever feel like an insect on one of the 400 superroads when you drive along a wall of obese tractor trailers?
Do you ever have to squeeze into your driveway past the lawn care guy who bought a long pickup and a  longer trailer so he can't park in front of his customer without hanging over driveways because the combo is wider than the lawn?
Do you ever fume in a traffic jam because another 18-wheeler has rolled over on a curve like a hippo bathing in a jungle river?
Do you ever wonder why the province allows tractor trailers so big that they can't make an ordinary turn on a downtown street?
If you have, you live in the Province of Ontario where the transportation experts boast about the low accident rate compared to the rest of Canada primarily because ordinary motorists are so intimidated by truckers that we try to keep as far away from them as possible.
I don't blame the drivers themselves. They have to drive the rigs that the boss gives them. And the boss, trying to reduce labour costs, tries to cram as much stuff as possible into the biggest trailer that he can find.
I blame the transportation ministry. I blame the police who allow the obvious infractions around them when truck rigs are bigger than the law allows.
The trucking industry has always hankered after the infamous truck trains of central Australia which are really more train than truck.
So the trucking industry has kept pushing the envelope on size so now we have big dump trucks rumbling along that have an enormous connection to a second trailer. They resemble tanks more than they do a truck for sand or gravel.
It's astounding how just about every business that moves on tires has always tried to cheat on size. Even the TTC. I was startled long ago at a commission meeting to find the commissioners were plotting how to get city council to change the law so the latest buses they had bought were legal. On yes, our transit guys bought buses that were longer and wider than regs allowed.
I raised this many years later at a Ontario Safety League meeting where I was a director and two men there who had spent many years in transit laughed knowledgeably about the incident and sort of hinted that it wasn't the only time that it had happened with the TTC.
A few years ago I was trying to get my Toyoto serviced in the eastend but found that I couldn't get close to the service door because of this enormous car carrier that sprawled from the showroom out into the street. I said to the driver that obviously the carrier was too big for that delivery, and probably broke the law too. He said he made regular delivers there and I was the only one in five years who had mentioned  the rig's size.
It wasn't just at the OSL board that I raised my concerns. (The OSL is a volunteer advisory body to the government that is nearly a century old.) I used to write editorials and features for the CAA magazine, which I think has gone downhill to being more a travel mag that one really devoted to the concerns of  motorists. I also often wrote about motoring issues as a Toronto Sun columnist.
I find it astounding that even as traffic has increased on every street in Toronto, so has the size of every form of truck.
Once upon a time, urban planners envisioned a Southern Ontario where freight trains carried most of the stuff between cities. Any big tractor trailers that moved between cities would offload in suburban depots and smaller vehicles would carry the material the rest of the way.
Sounded great on paper but the big trucking outfits figured why use two vehicles and two drivers if one of each could do the job. So to hell with the rest of us!  Then we got just-in-time delivery where factories didn't bother building storage space but were brought their parts and material by a steady stream of rolling warehouses that were made as large as possible.
The latest trick for companies delivering shingles or brick or block by long flatbeds is to hang the little tractor off the back. Which just adds to the hazard, And I would say so even if Mary had not driven down a side street a couple of years ago where a big flatbed was delivering shingles and was parked on an angle out from the curb. She clipped a corner, for $6,000 damage, The driver was on the lawn. He argued that since he hadn't been in the cab, he wouldn't given even his name. He certainly didn't apologize for taking up most of the road. The insurance company didn't even blink at my story. I guess it happens too often, and we all pay higher premiums as a result.
I think it's time to get back to basics, to ignore the good roads and trucking lobbies that contriibute campaign funds to all the right MPPs, and have a commission into vehicle size. If the private motorist does nothing, those tractor trailers will keep getting longer and bigger until more of us, like some of the people I know, feel that' it's safer to stay off the 400 series of truckways.

Monday, July 29, 2013



Let's copycat most cyclists and ignore stop signs. It will save us time by making for quicker trips and will help the environment and our cars.
Let's just roll our cars through stop signs if we see no one is coming. And if traffic is really bad, we could just switch to the sidewalks or cross with pedestrians at the lights.
I drove from the Humber to downtown at 7.45 a.m. and found that thanks to the police ticketing offenders, few parked car were blocking a lane of traffic, just one or two cyclists in each block.
My trip was swift. All the drivers around me were rushhour hardened so there was no dawdling and no stupid quick moves. Can't say the same for cyclists who whizzed by on both sides of the car at lights and swayed towards passing cars occasionally like a cow heading for the barn.
The cyclists were a pretty sight. No, I'm not talking about that Star picture showing a nude cyclist. As a veteran of bike hikes, that sight caused parts of my body to seek refuge inside.
No, I'm saying that cyclists are so much more distinctive and flamboyant than those drivers hunkered down morosely behind the wheel,
Some the other morning wore so much gear, I figured they had taken a wrong turn in a tour in France or Italy. There were even flowing pretty skirts fluttering in the breeze beneath purses, bags and baskets which jutted out at alarming angles as traffic squeezed by.
And no one was shouting curses at drivers. But then it was early and I guess they weren't warmed up yet.
I was driving down one of those endless side streets the other evening where the neighbourhoods have persuaded City Hall to put a stop sign at every intersection and to heck with the increase in air pollution. A pleasant older man was riding one of those old clunkers that I used to have before either gears were invented or I didn't have the money to buy them. It really didn't matter to him how slow the bike was because he kept up to me easily since he never stopped at six stop signs.
Ironically, the area south of Bloor just west of the Humber has been blessed in recent months by a cop of Asian heritage who hides in hedges and jumps out at any motorist who doesn't stop his wheels from turning even if there is no car in sight.
He caught two of my sons and many neighbours. I didn't know really what to think since it annoys me how many drivers in this area just cruise through stop signs. Not as many as the cyclists, but enough.
So why don't we save ourselves and the air and zealous cops a lot of grief and just abandon these silly bylaws that are already ignored by so many. Just let pedestrians run through traffic. Let cyclists belt along sidewalks and through stop signs. Allow motorists to only brake avoid collisions.
Let's have a relaxed attitude towards this scofflawism. What's that, you say? You think we would have a Wild West when it came to traffic. But we have that already. We could stop it from increasing by doubling or trippling the fines for accidents and all the other crushed-metal incidents that will happen when drivers start acting like cyclists.
Come down like the Hammer of Thor on any idiot who can't handle the easier laws and cracks up or rams someone. The rest of the time, just ignore the signs as if you were some innocent kid back on a tricycle before you grew up and were expected to obey all the rules. Silly thought!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013



What a way to celebrate a wedding anniversary! Mary and I will never forget our 52nd. It was the water one.
I used to struggle to remember the symbol for an anniversary. I knew about the golden 50th, but not the rest. Long ago,  I found that paper was for the first, and walked across from old City Hall to Eaton's - that vanished gem of a department store- and spent more than half my weekly pay on two Gourmet Magazine cookbooks.  Since then we've acquired dozens of cookbooks but I still sample that first costly treasure. Unfortunately, not one cookbook helped me cook a lasagna on the barbecue, which was sort of the water anniversary celebration.
Mary and I never got to celebrate our 50th with the traditional party. I had just come out of hospital and just sitting upright was a struggle. Lurching across a sidewalk to the restaurant from a car for a humble family dinner almost finished me.
We didn't plan much for the 52nd. Number Three son was home from China, which was great, but Number Two son was in Rome with his family and Number One son was in California recuperating from his last visit.
 So we were going to a nice Japanese restaurant at the corner for tempura but then the downpour came and the electricity died and the Royal York and Bloor area spun into a sweaty cocoon that lasted for almost two days. And for hundreds, the ordeal stretched longer.
What did we do wrong, I demanded of Doug Holyday, the Tory candidate in Etobicoke-Lakeshore?
After all, I said, we pay more than our share of taxes. We don't riot in the streets. Yet neighbourhoods around us, like, for example,  the NOBs (north of Bloor), got electricity back almost a day before we did, and we aren't as mouthy as the Kingsway folk in criticizing government.
Holyday said the party was thinking of demanding compensation for streets like mine that sweltered for 46 hours. I said I think we should elect a Tory government to make Ontario Hydro swelter.
I have never been a fan of Toronto Hydro or Hydro One and their cheating smart meters. I hate the provincial electric boys for screwing us on delivery costs to try to recover some of the billions they wasted through their endless fat-cat years.
 I'm still smarting from a system that billed me more for a bunkie that had been used for a week than it did for providing electricity to the main cottage for five months. Obviously a mistake, but not for an outfit that specializes in pretending it has never made a mistake.
Perhaps my Sunnylea neighbours have also yelled as I have whenever the Hydro boys treat our money like, well, water.
 Perhaps the Hydro boys use all their ingenuity and equipment that should be used to deliver electricity even in a huge storm to mark the streets of all their critics on a big computerized map and say that now they have had a big rain, that's our excuse to turn their food into smelly garbage in their fridges and freezers and make them sweat in their beds and bang into things when they're hunting for flashlights.
I was out that Friday, Oct. 15, 1954, on the banks of the Humber River that killed 82 people. The rain was drenching but not as hard as the rain Monday that just poured down the brick walls of my house because the down pipes couldn't cope.
 I was shovelling rain from a patio on to the lawn because my basement fireplace was flooding. Except the rain just sat on top of the saturated grass.
I have been through a tropical storm in Fiji that shuttered the island for days and killed 10 people. And the rain wasn't as fierce. Nor was the sheets of rain and giant waves when I
 rode out a hurricane on the South China Sea. Doctor from Doctors Without Borders and I clung to the deck of a battered fishing boat and wondered how long we would last when we were tossed into the sea that deserves its treacherous rep.
Since Hurricane Hazel, I have sat on the conservation authority and know just how the watersheds feeding into Toronto have been tamed. The Humber can never again turn into the raging monster that killed more than 60 people on just one street, Raymore Dr., across from the Weston area where I lived.
The conservation authority has done solid work. I wish I could say that about the various varieties of Hydro. Just how in God's name can an outfit be so stupid that it can't ensure that vital cogs in its expensive delivery system won't flood?
And the communications afterwards was almost criminal in its stupidity and lack of information.
I could have loaded my Sienna van with the most expensive and delicate food and taken it to the cottage if we had known we would have had to wait into Wednesday afternoon.  Except we were told we would have power mid-day Tuesday. Then it was later, Then it was nothing.
On Wednesday, the officials say that only 1,600 people woke without power. Bullshit! Speaking as one of the 1,600, with the loyal support of wife and son, it was patchwork at best. It was like a chess game where you weren't sure there would be power when you landed on a new square. And too often there wasn't.
Only two of the five closest traffic lights to my house were working, and that was seen as progress. I went to a garden centre to buy crushed stone to make wells beside the patio for the new thunderstorm that was said to be coming. It was open but the grocery store beside it wasn' t. Islington was a limp artery.
 I wanted to collect a prescription from my Shoppers but it was closed, but the TD bank a block away wasn't. The stretch of Bloor on either side, with dozens of restaurants, shops and medical offices, was dark, with a grocery store trying to get rid of produce outside the gloomy premises.
Urban life as we know it didn't exist. And they pretend that only 1,600 were still affected  Wednesday morning. Bullshit, I say again, without fear of contradiction from the officials who really know how to BS. And when they say triumphantly that power was restored mid-afternoon, they forget that for hundreds on that second day, they stayed in the dark.
What bothers me, and makes me wonder how normal people could actually vote Liberal in these byelections, is that it's been obvious for years that the public doesn't think think Hydro is doing a great job. And throw in the Liberal party too. And assessment, and power plant cancellations, and staggering mismanagement in health funds.
 If you listened, even Dalton McGuinty could be critical of  the obese bureaucracies beneath him.
What happened Monday is that we had a freak weather calamity that dumped more water over us than the killer, Hazel. And it turned out that for the most part, thanks to the lessons of Hazel, we can handle the great torrents in our rivers and creeks but that's about it. Not in our sewers  or on our transit or, damn it, our power.
We are supposed to be impressed that workers removed 30 or 300 or a zillion Olympic-sized swimming pools of water from the drowned Manley transmission station. What would have impressed me more is if the same workers were boasting about how planning sensible infrastructure had prevented 300,000 gallons of water from getting into such key equipment in Etobicoke in the first place.
I suspect the Monday deluge not only submerged the tiny bit of confidence the public still had in Hydro One but also opened the flood gates to washing the damn Grits out of power. If that happens, I promise to forget a Monday night shovelling water.
But I'm not sure Mary will. Some celebration!

Friday, July 5, 2013



The news that Toronto's decent and hard-working deputy mayor is running provincially as a Conservative in my riding of Etobicoke-Lakeshore is wonderful.
If a provincial party ever deserves to be defeated, if not sued, it is this Liberal government that has the Legislature overflowing with scandal, waste and stupidity.
The Liberal standard bearer is Peter Milczyn, who is pleasant but mundane and not a leader, more a party foot soldier than a general or even much of an officer. When I want info or help, I don't call Milczyn, who is my councillor, but Holyday, because I have appealed to Milczyn on several problems without success.
Holyday has been so diligent in looking after his voters, and even refugees from other ridings,  that he hasn't had to spend a cent to get re-elected for years,
He didn't finish high school but has a degree in common sense. He built a successful insurance business which he sold to concentrate on politics. (Milczyn doesn't practise as an architect.) Holyday didn't slow as he entered his 70s but plays hockey several times a week and in old-timer tournaments, and golfs at  prestigious St. George's. His lifetime of involvement in sports, often around his birthplace of the Lakeshore,  even includes being assistant lacrosse coach in a pro league where the coach was his buddy Morley Kells.
The riding is written off carelessly by the media as a Grit stronghold but Kells won in the area  provincially and municipally. Terry Grier of Ryerson University won it federally for the NDP, and his wife Ruth, a former health minister, represented the area municipally and provincially. The Liberals like to boast about their hold, even giving their failed leader, Michael Ignatieff, a map to it so he could represent it. The carpetbagger from Harvard was chased away in 2011 by Bernard Trottier who won for the Conservatives.
 It was said to be an upset but my politically-aware neighbours haven't been thrilled lately by Liberals being shuffled in and out on the way to patronage and appointments as billions explode.But back to this natural conservative who should romp to victory.
The proof of the political pudding is in the spending, both personally and municipally. There never has been a media story about councillors with the best attendance, most diligent voting record and the lowest expenses that hasn't had Holyday either as the best or close. He's legendary for his concern about waste and thoughtful approach where he will even suffer fools if he thinks they may just have a tiny idea.
Among his many accomplishments is the privatization of garbage collection, first in Etobicoke, then, because it was proved to be such a success, in the merged city west of Yonge St. Not only were the savings huge, the collection was better and no one could complain because the private workers were treated fairly. The NDP will have a tough time bashing his thoughtful leadership in labour negotiations.
I should warn readers of my conflict (if that is really necessary.) I have known and liked Holyday for several decades and we often lunch together. We have mutual friends. In fact, I am surrounded by friends and neighbours who thought Holyday should run for mayor next time. After all, he was the last mayor of Etobicoke before the suburb was swallowed by amalgamation.
When I was president of the Canadian National Exhibition, he was a vice-president. I had him chair important committees. We served on the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame together, and he still serves on the Etobicoke version.  I know from personal experience that anyone who cares about public spending and calm analysis of issues and taxation should rush to choose Holyday because the city and province would be best served if he and the other four Tory candidates win these byelections and then the Conservatives win the general election which must follow.
I just can't comprehend how anyone who has paid the slightest attention to provincial issues in recent years could vote Liberal.
 And I covered the Legislature starting as a kid back in 1958 and have reported on countless elections at all levels of government. In all those decades, I have never seen a more inept government. Its cynical waste of billions makes every single provincial government going back to Les Frost in the 1950s, even that NDP disaster under Bob Rae, look like fiscal giants.
The Liberals won half the vote in Etobicoke-Lakeshore last time. Now that the MPP has moved on, which I always expected, one would hope those voters would actually see the light at the end of the tunnel, and it's not an oncoming train of Grit waste and blarney.

Thursday, July 4, 2013



I loved those excuses after the CBC got caught discriminating against a white as a program host. It was all a mistake to say "any race except Caucasian" in the job ad. What absolute BS! All you have to do is turn on a TV and there is plenty of evidence that was precisely what the CBC wanted.
And other TV networks and stations for that matter. The pendulum has swung too far, from blatant discrimination to militant acceptance.
I really don't give a damn what the colour of skin is of the announcer or host. I don't care about the nationality or if they are minorities just off the plane. I just want to understand what is being said. If it comes with a nice Island lilt, fine, or a Brit accent, so be it. Unfortunately, too often that's not true. Simple announcements become a Rorschach scramble of syllables.
If you think I'm a crank about English which verges on the broken, I have put my money where the mouths of the incomprehensible should be. Back in 1979, I was the official sponsor of 43 "boat people" that I found in the refugee camps of Malaysia and Hong Kong. I had the legal responsible of looking after them financially for a year. With the help of Sun readers, I insisted that they could not work until they had passed courses in English as a second language.
I think of that every time I encounter someone who has been in Canada for decades and still can't speak English. Or I encounter some person with stilted English in India on a help line who can't deal with colloquial usage  Or the begging phone call, despite my being registered with the useless "do not call" list,  from some person just trying to earn a living but just can't speak English very well.
There is too much evidence that with the politically correct CBC and dumb private broadcast execs,   the colour of skin is more important than the ability to speak the English language with some resemblance to the way it is spoken even in ethnic Toronto.
After all, the electronic employers seem to think, just look at the huge market of Canadians that were born somewhere else. And when we hire minorities, we might increase our business even as we get in good with all the lefties who want us to go overboard on immigration issues.
I remember arguing during the meeting of a university advisory committee that I wasn't sure just how far a university should go in making it easier for minorities to pass journalism or radio and television English courses even after they were given an edge in admittance.
A high-ranking CBC official made it plain that she thought it was important that minorities on the electronic media also sounded like minorities. Her example was Ian Hanomansing. Hanomansing is a handsome competent Canadian newsman reared in the Maritimes but definitely looking Trinidadian. She said he would not be suitable for her on CBC radio because he didn't sound minority but white.
I was the only one of the group to find that strange. And so I was on the losing side of the perennial debate in North American high schools and universities where affirmative action gives minorities an advantage in admittance and then helps with their marks.
As some of the commentaries demonstrated after the CBC was caught with its prejudice showing, it's not just skin colour that is important to Mother Corp. I know as someone who did dozens of TV shows and radio commentaries, that women, New Democrats and gLiberals are preferred to compassionate white Conservatives who worked at a tabloid.
It was not unusual during pre-interviews with  producers to find them losing interest unless I was really provocative. After all, I was too white and right and I was from that damn Sun .
The great Doug Fisher, dean of the Ottawa press gallery, finally insisted that he wouldn't appear on CBC TV unless he was identified as a Sun columnist. Since Fisher was such a giant in political journalism, the CBC and CTV were happy to use him even if he was white and older and not a francophone.
Now if only the CBC was caught putting all its wishes, and not just "not Caucasian," in job ads and in policies for program execs. Then all the pretence would drop and everyone would know for a fact that the CBC desires to be the biggest mouthpiece in the country for lefties and activists.



The TDSB, initials which could stand for Toronto Dumb Silly Board, has never dazzled parents or taxpayers with wisdom, common sense or economy.
The Toronto District School Board, which is too busy being politically correct, is the kind of outfit that knows how to spend but not how to save, to protect incompetent teachers and overpay every one else.
When I talk about the school system of  Ontario back in the ancient times when I was a student, I never say that I graduated but that I survived.
 I used to take a quiet pride in the fact that my dad, a popular east-end GP, had been chairman of the city school board. Unfortunately a series of stumblebums and PC trustees since has taken away my family pride.
So what has me annoyed this time? No, not those stories of a few months ago about how much the TDSB pays for routine chores like hanging stuff or fixing doors. The board demonstrated such disregard for the public purse in simple maintenance that it was a laughing stock in the media. For me to add more insults is like kicking a dead cat on that issue.
No, this time it's the discovery that it is dumping old books, such as a Canadian history book that cost more than $90 each, because it says it can't give them away and needy countries can't afford the transportaiton costs if they were gifted.
I doubt if they tried that hard. Or maybe there was not enough time to work out a reasonable giveaway plan between summer holidays, Easter and Christmas vacations, professional development days (which never seem to  work) and sick days.
(I just had another example of the TDSB incompetence when the junior school near my home, Sunnylea, fell silent this week because the pupils have escaped for the summer.  So what's the big deal? For weeks, noisy construction equipment has been pounding away at one end of the school just metres from the early grades who are distracted so easily. This week, the equipment was silent.. What stupidity it was to have the construction going on during school hours when summer holidays were so close.)
Ontario has been blessed with great lieutenant-governors, and one of the most competent and nicest, James Bartleman, distinguished himself by putting together volunteers and public agencies to ship thousands of old  books to northern communities and native communities where books were rare.
It was a huge success, proof that there is no need for a dumpster to be filled with history books outside Harbord Collegiate Institute.
The blunt truth is that old school books can be useful if only the TDSB got off its ass and showed some initiative and ingenuity. Perhaps use the imagination that is now wasted on feeble excuses saying there is no use for  books dumped because there are now new versions. Presumably the new edition has more "sensitive" language and watered-down versions of the often turbulent and bloody history of the world.
The high cost of textbooks is scandalous. Often the old version is good enough. My defence as a husband and father who paid for 22 years of university texts was to pay for only half the cost of the textbooks to encourage the hunt for older but adequate versions.
Of course the TDSB has the taxpayers to buy their books, and goodness knows there are all those publishers to subsidize, and all those teachers who like to write textbooks for the money.
It was over 160 years ago that Egerton Ryerson, founder of our school system and the education  complex of St. James Square now occupied by Ryerson University, determined that it was vital that the colony that was not yet a country have a central system for school books and school libraries.
He ranked the books as important as a teachers' college and model school. The cost was very important to him, and to all the private booksellers who mounted a vicious propaganda campaign against him.
They certainly didn't throw their books in the garbage then but passed them down through the school and the family until the covers and pages were tattered.
They don't have to do that anymore. Ain't progress wonderful! But not the taxes!



The cyclist image reached its tipping point just a year or so again, plummeting from sainthood.
It's now so acceptable to complain that even the guru (in his own mind) David Suzuki concedes that a lot of the criticism of the arrogant and dangerous behaviour of cyclists is valid.
 And Suzuki has never seen a lefty or eco cause that he hasn't adored if it hurts motorists.
We should thank Karen Stintz (but not elect her mayor) for her self-obsessed attitude when she got a $110 ticket for cruising through a stop sign on the bike she occasionally rides to City Hall. (Because she thought it would make her look good to downtown activists to ride 7 km to Silly Hall twice a week. After all, the left considers drivers evil and suburbanites grubs you find under rocks.)
 Since even stupidity is never completely black and white, Stintz argues that there really isn't a stop sign where she was caught sweaty-footed, but the cop considered it an intersection where people on wheels should stop. So she'll probably win on a technicality in court but not in public image because she volunteers she often (always?) rolls through stops like most cyclists in Toronto.
As the chair of the transit commission and one of the supposed leaders of Toronto city council, one would expect more of Stintz, She got elected after she replied to an ad looking for candidates and has done her best to make herself acceptable to voters, even taking speech lessons to calm her strange speaking patterns.
 But isn't it nice when dubious politicians blow themselves up!
One would argue that all councillors, particularly those who supervise the multi-billion-dollar TTC operation, should set an example for the rest of us, not feed the transportation scofflawism that makes the routine car trip downtown a guerilla operation with bodies hurtling by stalled cars as if they were berserk missiles.
Unfortunately we get stuck with militant cyclists/councillors like Glen De Baeremaeker who boasted to the Star that the first thing he does when he gets up is put on his bike gear. I suppose the second thing is to reread the Little Red Book about all the things he and officials can do to handicap all those cars and trucks who insist on also being on the road when he rides to council.
I would like to see a study comparing the efficiency of vehicles and bikes in moving people. I would add delivering goods but we all know that even hardened cyclists don't deliver items like furniture. I suggest to you that if we ever got an honest examination of the impact of one person on one bike on a busy city street, we would find they cause two to three times the impact of a car. But such a study will never happen because of pols like Stintz because they believe the bike benefits are more important than the 80% of us who move around Toronto each day by vehicles because the TTC isn't convenient or is too crowded.
I have written about the casual approach by too many cyclists to too many rules of the road, in, for example a blog on May 9 titled Cyclists are the biggest road menace. And if you go to blog.johndowning.ca, you will find several columns on road issues and how City Hallers yell at each other and talk expensive transportation dreams without bothering to try to get more out of the existing system by actually applying common sense approaches.
One thing has become obvious to me, and it should be to the columnists/commentators who now consider it safe to no longer toe the line where bike lanes and cyclists are part of a Holy Grail approach to moving people where motorists are handicapped and pedestrians and cyclists are considered half-way to Heaven.
It was always obvious on the old regional council called Metro that downtowners were more demanding in taxes, services and social assistance, and suburbanites believed in less demands on government and a more conservative approach to taxation. Bikes were a downtown thing needing help to survive while suburban cyclists could look after themselves.
The downtown-suburban split on most issues cripples much of the supposed decision making of council since amalgamation. Rob Ford could be a slim moderate mini-controvery mayor and he would still be attacked by the Adam Vaughans of the world because he's a suburbanite.
 And since Ford wanders from disaster to disaster like a Model T weakened by rust, city politics resembles a mud fight during a college initiation.
All you have to do is drive from my neighbourhood in downtown Etobicoke to, say, University and College, and the number of cyclists soars along with their militant behaviour the closer you get to the centre.
 In much of the suburbs, cyclists are fewer and restrained and have little impact on traffic. Downtown during rushhour they handicap traffic. Banning bikes during rush hour on major streets like Bloor or King is something that even cyclists that I know think would be a good idea. And more $110 tickets for the Stintzs of the world, who are so arrogant that they don't even  try to conceal that they have been caught breaking a bylaw, might calm the two-wheeled anarchy.
I have a soft spot in my heart for The Netherlands because my mother was born there and I find it such an interesting country to visit. As I recall from the September when Toronto officially twinned with Amsterdam, Dutch cyclists on their plain bikes could give many lessons on behaviour to those in Toronto. And I'm talking about an estimated 880,000 bikes in a city of 800,000.
RecentlyI yelled at an older woman dressed in black riding a bike without lights and reflectors the wrong-way on a one-way street around 10 p.m. ,She screamed back. Why couldn't I leave her alone? Because if I hit you, you damn fool, it would change my life, and yours too, because you would probably be buried.
I find driving around T.O. these days a dangerous gamble, like I was juggling lighted dynamite. There is always someone walking behind the car when you back up, or trying to take the parking spot from you, or meandering in front of you on a turn talking into their phone. Traffic is dangerous enough without cyclists ignoring traffic signs, roaring down sidewalks and thinking they can float through the night as if the Star of Bethlehem was shining down on them like a spotlight.
I may drive the acceptable rate over the speed limit (but never in a school zone) but I obey bylaws and rules, from not littering and obeying stop signs, and generally not being a member of the growing pack of scofflaws that figure acceptable behaviour legally is what you can get away with.
 I care about survival, me first, then the cyclist.
It may be a stretch but is the reason that I see more motorists of all ages, particularly younger ones, routinely rolling through stop signs and gambling at lights,  because making illegal turns or not stopping has became routine in recent years, particularly for kids on bikes..
I don't think accident rates have spiked because of this but it certainly takes a toll on the nerves of drivers. You approach a routine traffic signal watching for the guy who isn't even going to catch the amber as he speeds through. Just going down your home street can be an adventure because of cyclists and motorists not even pretending to stop at the side streets. And construction, landscaping and delivery trucks seem to compete in awkward parking that blocks easy traffic flow.
When I get home without a dent or near collision (and I hasten to add I have an almost perfect accident record), I settle before the TV for a couch potato hour to relax with an old movie. Nope, never a Western, because after all I have already had my fill on the way home of stampedes and runaways and punks seeing how far they can go in thumbing their noses at the rules of civilization.
Survival of the fittest, they used to say, before cyclists decided they were the gods of the road.