For the past few weeks, I’ve been offering the odd bit of commentary on the manufactured crisis that is the “war on the car.”
Manufactured because Toronto City Hall has done very little to wage a battle on the automobile. Ditching a fifth lane on Jarvis and considering a few more no-rights-on-red intersections does not make for a “war.” Indeed, Toronto is leagues behind innovators such as New York City and most European cities. But right-wing councillors and their allies are wedded to old ideas (lest we forget that the essence of conservatism is fear of change.)
One of the most vocal supporters of a 1950s Toronto is Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong. Forget public transit and bikes, he wants to make sure the car reigns supreme. So it was great to hear that Minnan-Wong is learning how to ride a bike (assuming that this isn’t a photo op to stave off critics of his unwavering pro-car stance. Recall George W. Bush – his environmental “policy” was standing in front of a sequoia; his “victory” in Iraq was wearing a flight suit…).
Perhaps we can understand why Minnan-Wong has held bikes in such poor esteem – he is a 45-year-old man who never learned to ride on two wheels. Every time someone rode by, the bike taunted him: “You don’t know how to ride a bike.”
How anyone manages to get through childhood without taking the training wheels off is hard to imagine, but Minnan-Wong may have had the first helicopter parents. Minnan-Wong says that his parents were “very protective.”
Now that he is blazing new trails, one hopes that he will have an appreciation for the hell it can be navigating some parts of downtown on a bike.
Of course, Minnan-Wong didn’t want to appear too “green” (as in environmentally-minded, not as a novice). I was actually beginning to applaud the man for having the courage to learn this skill so late in life, until he said: “I have no plans to be a road warrior. I still like driving my car.”