Still Swimming With The Sharks

July 22, 2013

So, tired of all the congestion and gridlock in the city? Working hard, trying to figure out how to get more cars off our roads? ideaI’ve got a simple but obviously overlooked solution.

Strip irresponsible, reckless and dangerous drivers of their right to drive. Stop our collective shrug when the misuse of a motorized vehicle leads to death and bodily harm. Accidents will happen. For sure. But less so if we cull from the driving ranks not only repeat offenders but anyone who uses a car or truck as a weapon of intimidation and confrontation.

Two articles in the Toronto Star today highlight a certain War With Cars rather than a War on Cars.

On Thursday night, the police allege that a driver ran down and killed a pedestrian he’d got into some sort of set-to with. For me, if found guilty of the array of bodily harm charges he faces, this driver would never be allowed to legally drive again. deathrace2000aZero tolerance. One strike and you’re out. Privilege revoked irrevocably.

The exact opposite of what appears to happen, even for multiple offenders.

Like the driver involved in a cyclist’s death last November. With 8 driving infractions in just over 2 and a half years, including speeding, disobeying a police signal and violating novice driving conditions, the driver added to that tally with a failing to remain at the scene of an accident that caused death charge. Is it unreasonable to expect at least some sort of time out in the form of a suspension of his license?

Especially since it seems everything was not as it first appeared when news of the accident broke.

Police said that the cyclist was struck when he rode through a red light. deathrace2000bUnfortunate but hardly the fault of the motorist who struck him. Even fleeing the scene could be viewed sympathetically for the driver, just driving along, minding his own business, obeying the rules of the road. Out of nowhere, bike rides right in front of him, bang. Driver panics, takes off. Shock gets the better of good judgement and any sort of concern for a fellow human being.

Turns out that might not be exactly how things transpired.

In a letter responding to inquiries from the dead man’s family’s lawyer, the Crown now says that it is “not taking the position that [the cyclist] was travelling north or that he ran a red light.” In fact, “…they’re acknowledging [the cyclist] was stationary or near-stationary, waiting to turn left, as he was lawfully obliged to be, when he was rammed from behind.” Turns out that it was the cyclist who was minding his own business, obeying the rules of the road when, out of nowhere car slams right into him from behind, bang. deathrace2000cDriver panics etc., etc.

It’s enough to make you think there’s an inherent bias when it comes to dealing with accidents on our roads. That our mayor is not alone when he suggested back in his councillor days that, “… it’s their own fault at the end of day” when a cyclist is struck by a bus, car or truck. Responsibility for road safety lies squarely on the shoulders of pedestrians and cyclists and not those with the greatest capability of inflicting damage upon those they so reluctantly share space with.

We can talk all we want about building biking infrastructure to encourage more people to see cycling as a viable means of transport around the city, there’s undeniable merit to that discussion. Ditto mandatory helmet laws and bike sharing programs. deathrace2000But until we treat everybody equally when it comes to using the roads, when there are actual consequences to bad behaviour and lack of diligence, when driving stops being regarded as an inalienable right rather than a privilege, bike culture will remain on the fringe, a hobby for only the foolhardy and pinkos.

Unfortunately, it’s a status quo too many people and institutions would be only too happy maintaining.

disquietly submitted by Cityslikr


Sink Or Ride

April 18, 2013

If we were only permitted to travel around this city on modes of transport paid in full, upfront by each of us on a fee-for-service basis, we’d all be walking everywhere we went. hackingthroughthejungleThere’s probably an argument to be made about bicycle use as well. Its impact on infrastructure a fraction of its costs.

For every other way we get from point A to point B? Subsidized to the hilt. Roads for vehicular traffic are not fully paid for through gas taxes and registration fees. While transit users in Toronto pay an unusually high percentage of the system’s annual operating costs, a good chunk of it comes from other revenue sources. And we haven’t even got to the matter of capital costs.

So if our car, bus, streetcar, subway travel all is subsidized to varying degrees, why do we expect the public bike sharing system, Bixi, to pay its own way?

In normal circumstances that would be purely a rhetorical question. You’d think mobility was mobility regardless of the number of wheels under your ass. This, however, is Toronto 2014. subsidizeCycling is nothing more than a sport or a jaunty ride about town, to and fro places of latte-sipping.

Reports of Bixi’s financial duress emerged on Tuesday. The Montreal based company is looking to sell off its franchises including the one in Toronto. A couple years back, the city signed on as a loan guarantor to help get the operation up and going. Now it’s on the hook for about $3.9 million.

Unsurprisingly, Mayor Ford is uninterested in helping out. The chair of the city’s Public Works and Infrastructure Committee, Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong, is not any more enthusiastic about the idea. He’d prefer to off-load it onto the private sector.

“Government, fundamentally, isn’t the first place where you look to run a business,” the councillor said. “The private sector is better at making a dollar because it is their dollar. tossoverboardI’m a firm believer that if it can be in the Yellow Pages, it shouldn’t be in the Blue Pages.”

*sigh*

On Tuesday, I wanted to hug Councillor Minnan-Wong to my bosom for having the courage of his convictions in speaking out and voting against a casino. I’d always questioned his courage and believed his only conviction was reducing local government to a heaping rubble. But by later that day, he’d returned to form.

Only the firmest set of anti-cycling minds saw the bike sharing program as some blue chip business venture. bixiAccording to the National Post’s Megan O’Toole, in a report going to the Executive Committee next week, Toronto’s GM of Transportation Services suggests BIXI has become “’an important part of the transportation mix’ in the city and a key component of the Pan Am Games transportation plan.” ‘An important part of the transportation mix’, you say? Well, let’s just hand that over to the private sector to maximize profits why don’t we.

BIXI was never intended to individually cover great distances. It’s all about short hauls. Think timed transfers we’d like to have on the TTC – hop on-hop off privileges – but on a bike.

Set up to actually succeed, BIXI could immediately begin paying back any investment in it from the city by helping to alleviate the stress along certain transit routes. Right now, I’m thinking the downtown streetcar lines, especially King Street. fieldofdreamsReduce the ridership there in order to re-allocate TTC resources in other parts of the city.

Of course, it’s not as easy as simply putting up more stands filled with more bikes. Biking infrastructure also has to be improved to further entice reticent but interested would-be riders to casually start using the system as part of their transit routine. All part of the concept of induced demand. Build it (and maintain it properly) and they will come.

As part of the city’s overall transportation outlay, coming to the rescue of BIXI would be a modest outlay. For a fraction of the amount we’re looking to shell out keeping the Gardiner in the pink, we could triple the number of BIXI bikes and broaden its reach from High Park to Broadview and Dupont Street to the lake. Hardly the ‘drain on the city’s finances’ the Public Works chair pretends to fret about. eraseA concern particularly rich coming from the man who cost the city a couple hundred thousand dollars reverting the Jarvis bike lanes back to a 5th lane for cars and another $19.4 million trying to bury the Gardiner Expressway Environmental Assessment without council consent.

But we all know this isn’t about sound policy or good governance. It never is with this administration. BIXI’s financial problems offer up yet another golden opportunity to kill off a David Miller initiative. That’s really the only kind of agenda they have left.

sharingly submitted by Cityslikr


Bike Lane Crazy

June 25, 2012

This isn’t just about bike lanes although it might seem that way.

If you’re going to build bike lanes, you don’t simply build bike lanes. You build a bike lane network. Off-road doesn’t mean out of sight. It’s all well and good to dedicate hydro corridors to a safe and leisurely Sunday meander but if it leads only in circles, going nowhere in particular, it won’t serve as a needed form of transit.

And that’s why we build bike lanes. We’re not merely slapping in a lane here and another there, wherever we can find space that least inconveniences the non-bike riders amongst us, to score empty political points. As responsible city builders rather than hell bent ideologues, we’re all looking for ways to help alleviate traffic congestion.

At least, that’s what cities that take alleviating traffic congestion seriously do. (No, not just in Europe. Look what’s happening in New York City.)

Rather than view cyclists as irritants, determined only to inflict the maximum amount of aggravation on already put upon vehicle drivers out of nothing more than smug, self-righteous spite, there are places that accommodate bikes as viable transit alternatives. Modes that help ease traffic flow not impede it. Infrastructure gets built enthusiastically with the expectation of removing cars from the roads. Yes, there’s an ecological element to it — fewer cars mean less pollution — but each additional commuter on a bike, well, you do the math.

Over the course of 3 days last week in the Netherlands, I rode some 160 kilometres from small seaside towns through country sides, across protected dunes and into cities. In my best estimation maybe 10 but probably closer to 5 kilometres of that distance was on shared roads without some sort of designated lane, and truthfully, some of that happened due to errors in my navigation. There were segments entirely segregated from everything but other bikes. Some shared with only pedestrians. Protected on road lanes and those demarcated only by painted lines.

No one size fits all solution. Just an accepted notion that cycling was an integral part of any rational transit system and should be accorded appropriate space and value. Biking as more than some left wing conspiracy seeking to bring about the downfall of capitalism. People wanting to go about their business on 2 wheels.

It really is that easy. There just has to be the will. The will comes from understanding this isn’t a zero sum equation. Cars and bicycles can exist together in something resembling harmony. Places as cold and wet as ours is sometimes; places as seemingly inhospitable to a culture of cycling as ours can be in, say, mid-February. Places that weren’t always the bike friendly havens they appear to be today.

Failure to accept this possibility is nothing more than a failure of imagination and nerve. A basic inability to move past the status quo.

That’s why this is more than just bike lanes.

cyclingly submitted by Cityslikr


Raging At Road Rage

May 15, 2012

News just broke that the police have charged a driver with manslaughter in the vehicular death of a skateboarder yesterday.

To use the rather indelicate language of my colleague, Cityslikr, have we lost our fucking minds?!

What situation could possibly arise, what confrontation so dramatic that anyone could justify, rationalize using their automobile as a weapon?

And this is not some isolated incident, some lone sociopath behind the wheel of a car, meting out a little frontier justice at some perceived slight.

Let me back up here. [Hopefully no one’s behind you. Did you check your rear view mirror first? – ed.]

I’ll try not to convict the alleged manslaughterer in my own court of public opinion. He’s simply been charged. Perhaps a judge and/or jury will look at all the evidence and decide that the situation was nothing more than an unfortunate accident. But it seems witness accounts of the incident along with some video footage that caught a portion of it [Unlike, say, the video catching a Toronto Star reporter red handed in the act of spying on Mayor Ford’s kids. – ed.] is compelling enough for the police to proceed with the charge.

But I don’t think it too wildly off the mark to suggest that road rage has become endemic. How many days do any of us experience, whether driving, cycling, walking, skateboarding, free of shouted profanities or flicking off of others either between drivers or across transportation modes? How many blocks do you go before experiencing the grating sound of an aggressive horn announcing that somebody’s pissed off with something somebody else is doing?

Hey, jag off! The light turned green a nanosecond ago! I’m very important and have very important places to go!!

All leading to the inevitable, unsurprising yet still totally shocking outcome that occurred yesterday.

Where does such anger come from?

I’d argue that, at least in part, it comes from a deep well of entitlement. What’s that bumper sticker read? As a matter of fact, I do own the road. Watch then councillor Rob Ford’s speech on bike lanes from a few years back. “What I compare bike lanes to is swimming with the sharks. Sooner or later, you’re going to get bitten.” [Or have your head smashed open on a curb. – ed.] “Every year we have dozens of people hit by cars or trucks. Well, no wonder. Roads are built for buses, cars and trucks. Not for people on bikes. And my heart bleeds for them when I hear someone gets killed but it’s their own fault at the end of the day.”

This is not to pin blame for the skateboarder’s death directly on the mayor. [Absolutely not. He didn’t specifically say skateboarders don’t belong on the roads. – ed.] But his laissez-faire attitude toward non-drivers’ fate if they dare hazard road travel more than reinforces the privileged sense of entitlement many behind the wheel carry with them. So no, it’s not a case of counselling murder [Although the odd dust-up or casual contact on your way to work can be a source of grins and chuckles to the mayor and his councillor brother. – ed.] so much as it is absolving motorists of any responsibility for their actions.

“And my hearts bleed for them when I hear someone gets killed but it’s their own fault at the end of the day.”

Tagging along with Cityslikr on his Scandanavian fact-finding mission last week, I was struck by how a civilized, non-car first society deals with, ummmm, living in the 21-st century. Pedestrians, cyclists and cars share the roads equally and, seemingly, in that order. Might doesn’t make right. In 1997, Sweden undertook a traffic safety initiative called Vision Zero. It’s goal? “No loss of life is acceptable.” The exact opposite sentiment to one that includes ‘well, at the end of the day…’ as we wipe our hands clean.

“In every situation, a person might fail. The road system should not.”

While lifting responsibility off of individuals as the primary cause of traffic accidents, Vision Zero looks to design traffic systems that minimize the damage done when accidents happen. Speed Kills, Safety First and all those other touchie-feelie, kooky, left wing European sensibilities. So along with promoting safer car design, for example, there’s much talk of ‘traffic calming’ and ‘pedestrian zones’ and the kind of thinking that doesn’t simply put ease of mobility before personal safety.

At the end of the day, really, the fault for injuries and fatalities resulting from traffic accidents lies at the feet of those who view transit through the single lens of speed first and the primacy of the private automobile above all other forms of personal transport. To shrug off the death of a cyclist under the wheels of a motorized vehicle or a pedestrian struck down in the middle of the road with a, well, they shouldn’t have been there in the first place or they should’ve looked both ways simply lays the groundwork for the more homicidal tendencies of a small percentage of drivers who become temporarily unhinged behind the wheel. The roads are built for cars, goddammit! Get the fuck out of my way!!

If a cyclist or pedestrian or skateboarder or rollerblader isn’t supposed to be on the road then they can be viewed as trespassers when the are. Indulged or tolerated at best, the situation can be made dicier if they don’t exhibit the proper amount of deference. And occasionally when they push back hard enough and exert their right to use the roads, they take their lives into their own hands, swimming with the sharks as they are. It’s an easy escalation.

An acceptance of accidents (fatal or not) as just a part of doing business normalizes death on our roads. Shit happens. What are you going to do? Don’t want to get hurt? Travel around in this biggest, meanest vehicle you can find. [Hey! That gives me a great promotional angle to sell cars. Note to self: target soccer moms. – ed.] The more of us who do that, the more traffic there is, the more confrontation. Road rage just comes with the territory. Don’t want to get hurt? Show some respect and let me have my way.

These aren’t rules of the road. It’s a guide to survival of the fittest. As a matter of fact, I do own the road. You’ve been warned. Use it at your own risk.

[And as we go to post, news of a cyclist struck by car earlier today. – ed.]

subduedly submitted by Urban Sophisticat


Swimming With Sharks

November 15, 2011

As Cityslikr rails at the world about the injustices inflicted upon the cyclist (Oops! There he goes now, on about #OccupyTO), I quietly type away in a small corner of the office, smug in my self-assurance of being more reasonable, less vitriolic, cool in my humours as Ben Jonson might say. Such incensed outbursts, viscerally generated confrontations only serve to further the divide and heighten the tension already existing between the two aggrieved parties. Vulnerable cyclists on one side. Put upon motorists on the other.

I too attended yesterday’s ghost ride in memory of Jenna Morrison. It was moving (no pun attended) but even more than that to someone not personally connected to her death, there was a feeling of empowerment. Thousands of cyclists taking charge of the city’s streets however fleetingly. (There’s another unintended pun in there somewhere.) Power in numbers. A critical mass.

Much of that sense was deflated later in the day when it was announced that no charges would be laid against the driver involved in the accident. Not that there was any cause for there to be. It seems the accident was just that. A horrible course of events involving misjudgement, perhaps, and unpreparedness for dealing with the contingencies of downtown driving that includes cyclists. Such things will happen, we are told. C’est la vie.

And at the end of the day

Might makes right and there’s no having to justify your actions. Today there’s been all sorts of second guessing of the victims operation of her bicycle in the situation, much of it stemming around her riding in the truck’s ‘blind spot’. Apparently it is just a fact of life that we have vehicles on our roads with gaping blind spots that everyone else should be aware of while sharing space with them.

That stops me up even just writing that. Wouldn’t a rational society look at that and come to the conclusion that something should be done to reduce vehicles’ blind spots or, at least, lessen the possibility of injuries and death because of it? Once more in reaction to the death of a cyclist, calls have gone up to install safety bars on trucks where pedestrians and those on bicycles could slip or be dragged under the wheels. A coroner called for just that in 1998. But we collectively shrugged our shoulders, bemoaned tying up the business of commerce in more red tape, and weighed the cost-benefit ratio of yet another dead cyclist. What are you going to do? It is what it is, right?

Similarly, it was noted by a police officer that the truck involved in last week’s accident didn’t have a convex mirror on the passenger side which may have reduced the ‘blind spot’ and even helped the driver spot the cyclist beside him. “It is not required by law,” said Constable Hugh Smith, “but I drive large trucks and train people and I wouldn’t go anywhere without a convex mirror on both sides.” Why wouldn’t that be mandatory for trucks instead of this laissez-faire attitude of lethal blind spots as just a part of doing business?

I’m not just talking about bicycle safety. It’s a public safety issue. And if governments aren’t going to act to ensure that, what about the courts? The civil courts. If governments fail to enact recommendations made by coroners, resulting in further deaths, is there a precedent in Canadian law to take them to court and sue them for something like negligence? (You might have noticed at about this point that I’m no lawyer.)

One death does not mean only one less bike rider on the road. It has a multiplier effect. Others will stop riding out of concern for their own personal safety. Certainly children won’t be encouraged to look at cycling as a viable mode of transit. That’s amplified if our elected officials are seen to be less than concerned about it. It’s pushed further out to the fringe. My heart bleeds for you and all that but, seriously, if want to stay safe out there on the roads, drive a car, a truck, the bigger, the better.

Who benefits from that?

submitted by Urban Sophisticat


The Wrong Way Down A One Way Street

November 9, 2011

There’s enforced reading here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke or as Cityslikr likes to call it, Book Club. He gives out titles to be read and demands reports be written. No national bestsellers are these, no Oprah Picks. Usually the readings consist of dry takes on policy issues of the day like urban studies, our banking system, the nature of democratic dissent.

It is of my humble opinion that he doesn’t read any of the books himself but farms them out to his colleagues for 800-1000 word abstracts. Why would you comply, you may ask. At least, without proper recompense or accreditation. Well, the fun comes when you completely misrepresent the book you’ve just read and watch him pontificate wildly off the mark on it. Remember that the next time he starts on about credit default swaps or the high cost of free parking. That’s some of my finest work.

Sometimes, however, you will get steered in the right direction and so it was with Chris Turner’s The Leap. So good, in fact, I think Cityslikr actually read it. High praise indeed.

The Leap is both exhilarating and depressing, often times simultaneously which is no small feat. Exhilarating because positive change is so tantalizingly close. You can see it happening, in different places throughout the world, at various levels whether it’s making the move to alternative renewable energy sources in Germany or reviving once moribund cities like Melbourne, Australia. The depressing aspect comes from the fact that so many of us simply don’t get it, opting instead for an unsustainable, unpleasant status quo. Stay the course as they now say in Toronto 2011.

Given the events here with the death of another cyclist on Monday, one passage from The Leap sprang immediately to mind. It’s as follows and I beg the indulgence of those who have read the book already. It and/or Tom Vanberbilt’s Traffic.

“When journalist Tom Vanderbilt embarked on a comprehensive tour of the world of traffic, he peeled back the coherent veneer to uncover a place that was not just arbitrary in its logic but literally insane. His findings, compiled in his 2008 book Traffic, reveal the operation of a motor vehicle as ‘the most complex everyday thing we do.’ The act itself requires the use of a vast subset of 1,500 distinct skills, many of them so far away from our basic instincts and inborn, time-tested survival skills that, as Vanderbilt puts it, ‘In traffic, we struggle to stay human.’ Because we’re mostly moving too fast and at too great a distance from each other to permit eye contact, all of our adaptive social cues are stripped away. It’s easily the most dangerous thing any of us does with any regularity. And on average, Americans spend more time in this state – overwhelmed, dehumanized, engaged in a bewildering and potentially deadly ritual – than they do having sex or eating meals with their families.”

Not to indulge in enflamed, over-the-top hyperbole but I think if we’re looking around for a culprit for the serious democratic deficit currently facing us, the toxic public discourse that now passes for political debate, the unbridgeable left-right schism, we can stop searching right now. It’s all about car ownership.

How can it not be? According to Vanderbilt, drivers spend an inordinate amount of their time ‘overwhelmed, dehumanized, engaged in a bewildering and potentially deadly ritual’, struggling ‘to stay human’. What does that sound like to you? Being at war. For an hour or so every day, over 70% of Torontonians are in their cars, getting back and forth to work, struggling to stay human. And we expect them to simply slough it off, change into their civilian duds and demilitarize into rational, reasonable, engaged members of society?

We’re not talking post traumatic stress disorder here. This is ongoing, day-to-day traumatic stress disorder. Angry, wounded souls driving killing machines through city streets at 60 km/h.

How else to explain the barrage of defensive comments in the newspapers’ comments section to the story of the death of cyclist Jenna Morrison?

I feel very sorry for this woman and her family. But we have to admit that cycling is not a way of transportation in a big city like Toronto. We are not in Saigon for Christ sake. Want to cycle? Go to park. Cars and bicycles on busy streets are deadly mixture and cyclists are victims. Road for cars! Pavement for pedestrians! Bicycles for suburbs and parks! And the sooner we understand this the less tragedies we’ll have.
P.S. Especially when most of cyclists don’t give a damn about road rules, traffic lights, stop signs, etc.

That’s sociopathic in its lack of compassion or empathy. What kind of person would fire that sentiment off into the public realm? One devoid of much humanity, I’m afraid. A soldier in the misnamed War on the Car.

It also reveals an unwavering belief in the primacy of cars on our streets. ‘Road for cars’! Sound familiar? So obvious and set in stone that it absolves them of any blame for the carnage they inflect while going about their business.

If my nautical knowledge is sound, out on the high seas it is the responsibility of the vessel operating under the most power that must cede the right of way to one that is less able to change course or speed. Thus, motor boats give way to sail boats, sail boats to kayaks. On our roads, the opposite is true. Vehicles most able to inflict damage bear none of that burden. If a cyclist or pedestrian gets mowed down, the reaction tends toward, well, they shouldn’tve been out there, they should’ve been more aware.

To our detriment, we continue to design and build cities around this anti-social mode of transport and somehow expect a public spirited, collective outcome. Cars and community are antithetical modes of thinking. They can only exist in opposition to one another. We’ve tried the car way for a couple generations now. It doesn’t work. It isn’t healthy. We are all the worse for the attempt. It’s time to head in a new direction.

backseat drivingly submitted by Urban Sophisticat


Vengeance is Ford’s

July 17, 2011

Upper Jarvis Street was a lovely avenue when my grandfather’s grandfather, William R. Johnston, built his mansion on it in 1875. He and his family lived there until 1916, when they were part of the exodus of Toronto’s high society north to the suburbs of Rosedale and Forest Hill. Today, neighbours call 571 Jarvis, at the corner of Isabella, The Grey Lady and it serves as office and training space for Casey House. Meanwhile, Jarvis St. became a battleground for competing visions of what Toronto can and should be.

One sides sees Jarvis as a 1950s-style “traffic corridor,” a glorified highway to zip central Toronto residents downtown and provide suburbanites an alternative to the Don Valley Parkway’s congestion. Another vision, championed by Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam among others, would have Jarvis as a pedestrian-friendly cultural corridor. Of course, we didn’t hear much about cultural corridors at city council this week, just rage over bike lanes.

Jarvis was actually an unlikely site for such a crusade. Despite the whining of the soccer moms in Councilor Karen Stintz’s North Toronto ward, the bike lanes weren’t really that disruptive for carists. Maybe they added a couple of minutes to the commute, but the five-lane system was far from elegant and left the lanes too narrow to really be safe. As Councilor Josh Matlow noted, the bike lanes actually improved the road for drivers. Meanwhile, let’s face it, if we could install just one north-south bike lane between the one on Sherbourne and the one on St. George and Beverly, we wouldn’t put it on Jarvis—we’d want it on Bay or Yonge. Besides, bike lanes aren’t essential to a cultural corridor; in fact, they meant the sidewalks weren’t widened as originally planned.

Nevertheless, the cyclists picked my great-great-grandfather’s old street to make their stand. Inevitably, they were frustrated that the carists showed absolutely no understanding of even the most rudimentary elements of transportation planning. Mayor Rob Ford’s allies treated self-serving anecdotes as data and dismissed contrary evidence as corrupt. They also delighted in their procedural deviousness. So while the cycling community held out hope that the vote would be close, the bike brigade never had a chance.

For Ford Nation, this skirmish was about far more than bike lanes or even just a clash of competing visions—it was a triumph of vengeance over vision. Ford and his faction on the previous council felt so dismissed by the Miller administration that once they grabbed power, they were going to make damn sure to treat the council’s left wing the same way. Only worse. (This comes as no surprise to anyone who understands Ford’s essential childishness.) More than that, the mayor is determined to undo as much of Miller’s legacy as he possibly can, no matter the merit or the cost. Transit City’s four LRT lines? Now just one. The Fort York bridge? Gone. Jarvis as a cultural corridor? Nope. Instead, the five lanes will return at a cost of $500,000 to respected taxpayers.

Those of us who saw Don Cherry’s rant at Ford’s investiture as classless and inappropriately partisan missed the real message: he was signaling that Ford’s reign would be all about spite. But vengeance is not only a disastrous way to run a city, it’s a foolish political strategy.

So the bad news is: a lot of things in Toronto are going to get much worse before they have a chance to get any better. By shrinking the planned expansion of transit (and even cutting back on existing service), by making our streets more inhospitable to cyclists and by completely ignoring pedestrians, Ford ensures that our roads will become even more congested.

But the good news is: Ford’s government by vengeance ensures that voters will react by giving a strong and clear mandate to a city builder with a vision of Toronto as a place that works for everyone, not just those behind the wheel. And someday Jarvis will become a cultural corridor because those are the kinds of streets great cities nurture. I’m pretty sure that’s what William R. Johnston would want for his old ‘hood.

— submitted by Tim Falconer is the author of three books, including Drive: A Road Trip through Our Complicated Affair with the Automobile.