Saturday, January 8, 2011

Councillor Minnan-Wong's Bike Lane Plan the Result of Power Madness?

Now that Rob Ford is the new Mayor of Toronto, he has finally allowed some of Council's more right-leaning Councillors opportunities to lead the various City Departments. And though that's a great thing for Toronto and Toronto taxpayers, sometimes you see some City Councillors do stupid things that can only be the result of them going mad from their new found power.

The Councillor I'm referring to in this article is Ward 34 Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong, a Councillor that campaigned on stopping tax increases and ending the war on the car, but now proposes ignorant ideas for Bike Lanes that will cost Torontonians a fortune and only increase traffic congestion.

Here's the story from the Toronto Star:

City to build curbs for separate bike lanes downtown
Ford’s team has voiced “no opposition” to a comprehensive plan put forward by the newly minted public works and infrastructure committee chair, Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong, which would see an connected network of curbed cycling routes along busy roads such as Sherbourne, Wellesley and Richmond Sts.

“I think there’s a misconception that Mayor Ford has an opposition to bike lanes. He wants to create bike safety. He wants it where it makes sense,” said Minnan-Wong, adding that both the cycling community and local community groups support the plan.

“This shouldn’t be about ideology. It’s about making a pragmatic choice and recognizing that cyclists need solutions and those solutions don’t have to conflict with cars.”

The separated lanes will affect parking in some areas, but cars could be accommodated by constructing the bike route next to the sidewalk. Cars would be able to park next to the curbed bike lane, adding yet another layer of safety.

Minnan-Wong’s plan has two major north-south and east-west routes, and extends to the lake at Queens Quay. Smaller roads such as St. George, John and Beverley Sts. would be used to provide a seamless network.

Most of the streets affected already have bike lanes, with some minor additions needed to connect the existing patchwork. The one big exception is Richmond.

A two-way bike lane would need to be constructed along that one-way street, which would likely mean removing one of its four lanes, Minnan-Wong said. Not ideal, but necessary to connect the network.

It’s a perhaps ironic twist that Ford — who once argued to council that “roads are built for buses, cars and trucks” — and his administration are pressing forward with not just bike lanes, but protected ones, in the core.

Even though Minnan-Wong opposed the Jarvis bike lane and the University bike lanes, he still proposes to remove a lane of traffic from Richmond in order to add even more?? And with Richmond being one of the most critical routes for traffic to cross the downtown core, Minnan-Wong has clearly lost his mind with power and needs a serious reality check.

Thank goodness for Rob Ford. The Globe and Mail is now reporting that Ford has not even discussed this plan with Minnan-Wong (contradictory to what the Toronto Star noted and Minnan-Wong implied), and has noted that this is not a priority for him right now.

Here's the story from the Globe and Mail:
Ford pedalling away from downtown bike-lane network
Building a separated bike-lane network in downtown isn’t a priority for Mayor Rob Ford now or any time soon, according to his office.

“Right now, it’s just a proposal. It’s just being discussed,” Adrienne Batra, the mayor’s press secretary, said. “We’re trying to stay focused on the bigger-picture issue right now, and that’s the budget.”

Mr. Ford has yet to discuss the idea directly with Denzil Minnan-Wong, the councillor who pitched it last year.

Mr. Minnan-Wong is now chair of the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee, which oversees cycling infrastructure.

However, Ms. Batra said Mr. Ford is willing to take a closer look at the scheme, “as long as it sticks to a few principles: safety on the roads, [it] doesn’t create traffic congestion and the community agrees to it.”

Mr. Minnan-Wong raised the proposal during a wide-ranging meeting on his portfolio with the mayor’s staff earlier this week. “They were open to discussing the idea,” the councillor said.

What a disgrace...

Hey Minnan-Wong, wake up and remember why you were re-elected! Sure you're in for this term, but your stupidity will get you tossed to the curb so fast in the next election, that your bicycle will travel back to the future.


(Image: by Christa . Bike by the Sea on flickr


Anonymous said...

Yeah, he's obviously gone power mad. How dare this megalomaniac councilor reconcile his beliefs with common sense and the urban-planning practices of every major city that is adding hundreds of kms of urban bike lanes while we in Toronto argue over a dozen? Doesn't he realize that we elected him to govern us, not pragmatically, but based only on blind adherence to ideology?

Anonymous said...

J&C I am usually behind you 100% but in this case you are wrong. We need bike curbs in the worst way to keep the jackass bicyclists in this city from turning every commute into an endless game of chicken...

jackandcokewithalime said...

Wow, this one really struck a chord.

Well Anonymous #2, like you I am all for complete separation of roads from bike lanes, and I agree that the curb would be great. Believe me, nobody hates those cyclists filtering between cars more than I do.

The thing that bothers me is when they take away lanes from motor vehicles and replace them with bike lanes, especially like what Minnan-Wong plans to do on Richmond.

Motor vehicles use Richmond and need every lane desperately, whereas bike lanes aren't even being used by half of all Toronto cyclists who have a choice to use them (see Statistic: Less Than Half of Toronto Cyclists Actually Use Bike Lanes...). Not to mention that for a large part of the year, the majority of cyclists don't even ride given the weather... I mean, how many cyclists did you count out there today? I counted none.

Anyway, thanks for your comments both Anonymous #1 and Anonymous #2, I appreciate your readership and your opinions.


Anonymous said...

I've been meaning to post for a while, love the blog. I've actually been thinking we need more of this kind of attitude in T.O. to try and balance the endless amount of ink that the "progressives" in this city get. Thanks for calling out Adam Vaughn every chance you get too, it's time for him to join that other "Adam" on the sidelines...

CheeMiss said...

OMG, can you imagine. The already narrow roads giving up more space to dedicated bike lanes?

I prefer that the sidewalks be designed to accommodate the part-time used, dedicated bike lane.

IF, or once those double length streetcars show up, it will make passing them with cars impossible. And then to contend with more bike lanes. Heaven forbid!

We elected Rob Ford bcos his mandate was to return the roads to motorized vehicles and now their talking about more bike lanes? I think everyone thinks that Miller and Smitherman are still in office. lololol Reality hasn't set in.

Cyclists are part-timers. We want lower taxes. We cannot afford these crippling stupid ideas any longer. Look at what we are now paying for hydro. It's suppose to go up even more. Almost double per mth. These whims & fanciful ideas are just way to expensive......period!

CheeMiss said...

btw: Question: what was the point of the crazy over priced & designed transit city? I mean, if they were actually going to get their LRT's all over the place, why do they still need dedicated bike lanes?

Bcos it IS a war on cars!

Anonymous said...

Yes, it will cost a "fortune"! Like, twenty or thirty thousand dollars!! How can the city afford this!

It's the refuge of the fool to make outrageous claims that are so vague they are irrefutable.

And typical of car drivers to assume that only they count as "traffic". Think about it in reverse: take away the bike lane and some cyclists may go back to driving to work. So how did these additional cars help your traffic congestion? Not very well did it.

If there's any place in this city where it is the realm of transit and bikes and that is downtown. Here, the car is the foreigner should be required to get a "passport" to enter.

Downtown roads may be narrow and congested, but the sidewalks are even narrower. The best option for all us - drivers, cyclists - is to put in separated bike lanes.

Even on a winter day I see thousands of cyclists crossing our busy arterial roads downtown. Every one of them counts as one less car to cause a traffic jam.

jackandcokewithalime said...

Oh Anonymous...

And you base your estimate of "twenty or thirty thousand dollars" on...what exactly?? Where are your references? I'm just curious as Minnan-Wong himself said they haven't costed it out yet, so I'm just wondering where you got your numbers saying that putting these curbed bike lanes on Queens Quay, St. George, John St, Beverley St and Richmond will cost twenty to thirty thousand dollars?...

"Even on a winter day I see thousands of cyclists crossing our busy arterial roads downtown."

That's a good one! That actually made me smile! :) Good for you! "Thousands of cyclists", hilarious...

"If there's any place in this city where it is the realm of transit and bikes and that is downtown. Here, the car is the foreigner should be required to get a "passport" to enter."

Talking to me about a fool making outrageous claims, here's an idea, why don't you go and do some research, and then tell me whose realm downtown is, bikes or cars? Transit, yes, I agree. But bikes? I think you need to wake up. Here's some good reading for you to start with: Statistic: Less Than Half of Toronto Cyclists Actually Use Bike Lanes....

And to tell you the truth Anonymous, I would rather have cars on the road instead of those cyclists. In fact, give me 2 cars for every cyclist that we remove from our roads downtown, I'll take it!

Every single day that I drive downtown, I see these cyclists blocking the roads, running reds, narrowly missing pedestrians, decimating traffic, and filtering between cars as if to create their own 1-foot lanes. At least people driving cars obey the laws of the road.

Again, as I said earlier, separated bike lanes are a good idea, but taking away lanes from motor vehicles on Richmond in order to implement them, no way in hell.


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