Some T.O. councillors are living in another universe, says Mang
Councillor Michael Walker has proven to be a vocal opponent of recent measures to make Toronto more bike-friendly. He is part of this odd, little cabal of Councillors who have manufactured the so-called “war on the car”. Councillors who pine for a 1950s Toronto; those halcyon days when the car was king, lawns were well-watered and sprinkled with pesticides and the Stepford Wives wore plastic smiles, starched aprons and fixed their salaryman husbands a post-work drink.
Why license when education would be more effective? What would the administrative costs be? How would Toronto achieve this in light of the provincial Highway Traffic Act; that is, how enforceable would this be? Is this a symbolic gesture, aimed at showing displeasure with those tree-hugging hippy types who prefer the eco-friendly bicycle over the eco-mauling car?
Would, as CBC host Matt Galloway asks, licensing be so onerous that many would just not ride bikes? I bet Walker et al would like that, but one hopes that is not the intent of his motion. Indeed, why isn’t he fighting harder for safer cycling zones, dedicated lanes, looking to New York City as an example of what can be done when the political will is present?
Walker then makes everyone’s skin crawl when he asks rhetorically (I think…) if cyclist insurance should be considered. You can bet that the insurance industry just collectively wet its pants when Walker mused aloud on that nefarious idea.
Walker seems to miss the point that there are too many roads in this city that are simply unsafe for cyclists. Licensing isn’t going to change that. Bike-friendly design will. Further, a New York City study found that in 1000 traffic fatalities involving vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists, drivers were responsible for 74% of the accidents and partially responsible for another 16%.
Shouldn’t Walker push for better driver education? Again, his logic escapes me. But maybe logic was never part of this motion.
There is also the social justice dimension. Many Torontonians who do not have a car are without because of choice or because cars are unaffordable. For those who own a set of wheels, it’s a hefty household expense. So these car-free citizens get around town on public transit and bikes. By pushing for bike licensing, Walker would make it harder for lower-income citizens to have an affordable mode of transportation. And when TTC fares keep going up, for some the only way to get from A to B will be on two wheels.
I expect that City Council, when they meet next, will reject this asinine motion. But if, for some bizarre reason, this motion is passed and if for some inane reason the province agrees to amend the Highway Traffic Act to give this motion teeth, then all of us who cycle should simply refuse to pay any ticket. Through this modest act of civil disobedience, if we all say “no” the administrative headache will be so overwhelming that bike licensing will eventually be spiked.