How one City Councillor wants to make bicycles inaccessible

Post by Eric Mang in

7 comments

50s-suburb
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.

Walker’s latest dubious idea is for cyclists to be licensed.

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.

7 Comments

Recently my wife's car was struck by a cyclist while sitting stopped at a red light. It was clearly the cyclists fault and luckily there was no damage to our car.

The cyclist showed no concern that she may have caused any damage to our car and had no visual means of identification [read license plate] should there have been any.

A cyclist does not need to carry a driver's license nor do they need to have insurance.

Had there been damage to our vehicle and the cyclist had no house insurance, the only recourse would be through small claims court.

Further, my wife was verbally abused by the cyclist for "not giving her more room" in the lane, even though she was there first and there is no defined bike lane on that specific road [while there is a bike designated street one block over].

I wonder if you could further explain why you believe this Toronto councilor's idea is so dubious.

"Walker’s latest dubious idea is for cyclists to be licensed."

Why is it wrong to suggest that anyone on the road have a visual means of identification and insurance should they cause any sort of collision?

First, I wasn't at the scene when this accident happened, so I don't know who was at fault. You're expecting me to take your word for it and you're asking me to believe that this actually happened. Second, you have given me an anecdote. The New York study I cited indicated a preponderance of accidents are caused by motorists.

But let's look at the other issues I raised. The first, education is more important than licensing. The second, you like most others, seem to forget that bikes are not only a clean and preferred way to get around a city, but are often the only means of transport for many lower income Torontonians. Why would we make it harder on them to get to where they need to go? Especially, when as I've noted above, there is no evidence that bikes are a cause of the majority of accidents?

And insurance? That will take thousands of cyclists right off the road and take yet another "free" activity that anyone can use and put into the hands of only people who can afford it. And again, where's the evidence that insured cyclists would result in better cyclists or easy claims?

What's with the obsession of having everyone be identifiable? Should everyone have to have a license number stuck to the front and back of there shirts at all times? That way is someone bikes, walks or anything into you at any time during any activity then you'd be able to identify the culprit! Don't forget about compulsory liability insurance for everyone in town, not just for bikers. Then if you're walking down the street and someone trips into you then you wouldn't have to worry about that troublesome small-claims court.

Oh ya, speaking of licensing for bikes, hello! Wake up, the goal is to have less barriers and for it to be easier to bike, not have more barriers and for it to be harder to bike!

Damn right all cyclists should be licensed. Currently only those idiot bike couriers are. It sire is easy to deal with them when they damage your vehicle...why? because they have license plates and its easy to track them down if need be.

hey tom ^^^

those "idiot bike couriers" are what keep commerce going in this city. if you relied on vehicles to deliver papers and packages, uh oh, there goes the bottom line in efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

Hi Eric, I also have a post on this issue, after hearing the same radio interview.

What Tom and Len don't know yet is that licensing bicycles will be an expensive quagmire. It will be a giant waste of money and a giant waste of time.

The Toronto police forces already have enough to do without also having to worry about inspecting bicycle licenses, and they already do as good a job as they're going to do enforcing road rules that cyclists break.

This may seem like a great way to get a form of municipal passive-aggressive revenge against those "crazy cyclists", but really you're cutting off your nose to spite your face.

Read this, it's a giant waste of time and effort, and the worst part is that Michael Walker already knows it.

Hey Simon,

Enjoyed your post! And thanks for the comments and the link to the City report.

Walker and other Councillors like Ford and Holyday are more about things they oppose rather than things they support. It gets tiresome, eh?

All the best,

E

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