Bikes and Streetcars Under Threat As The Suburban Car Loving Politicians Fight Back
Google the phrase "war on cars" and you will find that across North America, people are using the phrase to defend the happy motorized way of life. As one blog put it:
Hiding behind the veil of environmentalism and "sustainability," a small number of activists are having a big influence on tax policy, urban planning, and government regulation with the hope of shifting our society away from the individualism and freedom afforded by the automobile.
Yup, that's us, and a whole lot of urban types in a fight with suburban types who we slow down with our streetcars and bike lanes. In Toronto, Rob Ford, the leading candidate for Mayor wants to tear out bike lanes on arterial streets and move them into ravines and hydro rights of way, (few of which take people where they want to go) and he wants to get rid of Toronto's iconic streetcars and replace them with buses.
Rob Ford announcing his transportation policy on Youtube
He says that he wants to spend a couple of billion on subways, but that is just code "commuters belong underground so that they don't slow down the cars;" They all know that there is no hope of funding them and that suburban density is too low to support them. They might get around to them someday, but in the meantime, let's get rid of the bike lanes and rip up the streetcar tracks and widen those roads.
This is the same guy who previously said:
"I can't support bike lanes. Roads are built for buses, cars, and trucks. My heart bleeds when someone gets killed, but it's their own fault at the end of the day."
This would not be worthy of a TreeHugger post if it was just about a local goon running for mayor in another socialist country. But it is an American trend that we noted in a previous post Are Planners Socialists for Trying to Encourage "Livability"?, it is a pretty common attitude among right-wing pundits. And just look what Republican House Leader John Boehner says: John Boehner: Invest in Roads, not Weatherization and Quote of the Day: Republican House Leader on Bikes and Beautification. This is not a local phenomenon but a continent-wide backlash.
A car is not about individualism and freedom, it is in fact the opposite. It locks you into a particular (and expensive) way of living; it is a Corinthian leather lined trap. And it looks like come this October in Toronto it is going to run us down. In November it might have a wider impact.
More on bikes and politics in Toronto:
Bike Sharing: A Tale of Two Cities
Updates on Recent Stories: Bikes, Bagels and City Halls
Toronto's Love/Hate Relationship with Bikes
Toronto To Get Bixi Bike System; Will It Get Strangled At Birth?