Comment 46561

By arienc (registered) | Posted August 29, 2010 at 08:57:32

From my experience, there's two kinds of cyclists on the roads.

The first would be the road warriors. These make up maybe .5% of the population - those who are confident enough to ride on the road in all kinds of traffic. Bike lanes would likely do nothing for these folks...they ride despite the lack of them. These folks are generally male, and often are viewed as risk-takers.

The second are the enthused - they enjoy riding bikes, but prefer to do so away from traffic. These make up perhaps 1.5% of the population. There would be more of the people in this category cycling, but if bike facilities are not complete and connected, these people would choose to either use the sidewalks or not cycle altogether.

The reason we don't see that many cyclists is the fact that in general, our society considers cycling to be a dangerous activity. That, and the perception of cycling as labour intensive - many would-be cyclists are turned off because they have to expend extra calories and time to get from place to place.

While I know Rob Ford is catering to the "suburban car vote" with his anti-cycling stance, it is precisely those voters who stand to benefit most from getting more cars off the road, and more cyclists on it. The Greater Toronto Area is going to grow by a million people in the next 20 years, which includes some 500,000 more workers. Somewhere around 68 percent of daily commuters in the region drive cars. If we keep going the same way we have over the last 30 years, we will need to either spend in the hundreds of billions of dollars on new road capacity, or hundreds of billions on transit.

There is little will to make those expenditures on the part of the public. Which means, these commuters will face increasing amounts of gridlock above what is already one of the most congested city-regions on the planet, where the average daily commuter spends 84 minutes each day travelling to and from work.

Shifting the mix towards more walking and cycling (and a lower percentage of car use) is the most fiscally conservative way of dealing with the gridlock issues we face as a region. One year's road maintenance budget can fund ALL of the bike lanes that are needed over the next 20 years. Yet blowhards like Rob Ford continue to focus on the .5%, without grasping the fact that to grow the economy, we need to grow transportation networks, and the only way to do that while keeping capital costs low is to grow a complete and comprehensive cycling network.

The typical car owner sees cyclists as a small of the population, so why spend money to benefit them. These expenditures actually don't benefit the small segment that currently rides, they benefit those who can choose the option of riding. Voters need to grasp the fact that if they are to going to remain mobile, we need to grow the cyclist ranks to 10% or more, taking thousands of cars off the roads. This will require a much more balanced transportation network to bring about, but it is absolutely necessary for our quality of life and for our economic livelihood.

Being anti-cyclist goes completely against the principles of conservatism that so many, including all of Rob Ford's supporters, claim to believe in.

Comment edited by arienc on 2010-08-29 08:03:11

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