Yesterday, I was appalled at the outcome at Toronto city hall. Last night I composed the following email; this morning, I sent a copy to each and every member of council. Those of you who have already been interviewed know that I am not confrontational and that I do not want this book to be associated with controversy. You also know how little I want a Ghose Bike story. I felt it my duty as a citizen of this great city to voice my concerns.
Ride safe, everyone.
Dear City Councillors and Mayor FordYesterday, I witnessed what I consider an abortion of civic duty. Despite the statistics to the contrary, despite the large numbers of attendees in the public viewing area, despite the massive public outcry, none of the motions to improve the cycling infrastructure in Toronto were passed. To those brave few who voted to keep the Jarvis, Birchmount and Pharmacy bike lanes, who further recommended we add more bike lanes, that the city do an environmental review on the Bloor/Danforth line, I commend you. Thank you for your ongoing work to make my commutes and my recreational rides safer, and our city greener. As some of you know, I am currently writing a book on cycling in the GTA, entitled This Road Continues One Block North. It is a collection of bike stories gathered over the course of 2011 from a variety of bike dynamics and locations in the greater Toronto area. The book is intended as a celebration of both cycling and Toronto as they currently exist, because neither of these ever gets its deserved applause, in my opinion. Not all stories are happy. Some are sad, some are downright depressing. Surprisingly, they are all very tender love stories and they all continue to demonstrate hope. So far, none are about death because luckily, there have been no cyclist fatalities in the city this year. So far. To those of you who voted against improvements to cycling infrastructure in Toronto yesterday, I say that you have just raised the stakes. Your actions increase the chances of an accident on one of these city streets, in two ways. First, infrastructure is being removed, so the theoretical protection offered with lines, lane markings, and separate lanes no longer exists. All it takes is a momentarily distracted driver to hit a cyclist riding alongside them. Far worse though is the perceptible shift in mentality that is almost certainly going to occur. You have encouraged those citizens who already dislike sharing the road with cyclists to now show the same blatant disregard for anyone on a bike that you have just demonstrated with your vote. It’s sobering to lose a bike lane. It’s something entirely different to grieve a human loss while a Ghost Bike is designated. Today, I urge you to get on a bike and ride around this marvellous city. If you are unsure how to go about it, email me. I promise to make it fun, although today I cannot necessarily promise to make it safe. That would be up to you, as my representative at city hall. Keep well,