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Rob Ford’s Toronto: Moving Backwards

9:10 AM PDT on June 24, 2011

Toronto is a beautiful, progressive, global city. I was just visiting a couple of weeks ago, and I was so impressed with the teeming sidewalks, the subways, the streetcars, the buses and, most importantly, the bike lanes. My boyfriend and I brought our bikes and that was all we needed to get around the city all weekend.

But, oddly enough, Toronto has a new mayor who doesn’t get progressive transportation policy at all. Mayor Rob Ford has abandoned plans for surface transit, and he’s made himself the adversary of cyclists. Here’s a clip of him on YouTube explaining that “cyclists are a pain in the ass.”

That explains why Toronto, a city where bike commuting has been rising at a rapid clip, is now considering removing bike lanes. Yesterday the city’s Public Works and Infrastructure Committee voted to remove three bike lanes, including the one along Jarvis Street, one of the city’s main drags.

According to Herb van den Dool at Network blog I Bike TO, this lane had been in the mayor’s sights for a while. Here’s a quote from Ford:

“I’ve never supported the bike lanes on Jarvis. Eventually would I like to see them go, absolutely, but is it a priority now? I haven’t got any documentation or anything like that so no, it’s not something that’s going to happen immediately,” Mr. Ford told reporters on Thursday. “Whoever started this rumour, it’s just a rumour for now.”

Herb writes that the mayor’s position isn’t justified by the traffic data:

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