Wednesday, July 13, 2011
The City Of Toronto vs. Cyclists
I never learned how to ride a bicycle. It's just one of those weird gaps in knowledge that developed during childhood. I gave it a solid effort --- I remember my parents taking me out to either Springbank Park or an empty corner of the Westmount Mall parking lot to test out my biking acumen, but it just never took. If it was socially acceptable to ride a bike with the training wheels still on, I'd be a virtual Lance Armstrong, but as it turns out, I still have some faint stirrings of pride within my person. You'd think a guy who owns no fewer than three comic book-related t-shirts would have given up worrying about how he's perceived, but hey.
It's only fair to let you know this fact so you can make your own judgments about my personal biases. While my brain sides with Toronto cyclists in the war between them and Rob Ford, I can't deny that my motorist heart is silently grateful about the possibility of having a few less bikers on the road wreaking general havoc. I don't want to throw out blanket statements like "all cyclists are morons," so I'll just state that only the cyclists who have been riding within 20 metres of my car within the last six years are morons.
The problem with many Toronto cyclists is they're just the opposite of me; while I never learned to ride a bike, they never learned how to drive. This is all well and good and possibly logical given that you don't need a car to get around in Toronto, but the unfortunate side effect of this is that these cyclists didn't just not learn how to drive, but they also didn't learn basic rules of the road. For example, stop signs aren't optional. Biking diagonally across an intersection is not a good idea. When your bike lane is blocked, that doesn't give you the right to just bike up onto the sidewalk and fire past pedestrians like you're Lance Armstrong evading French doping specialists.
I understand the arguments made by Team Cyclist (biking is better for the environment, it promotes physical fitness, it helps reduce traffic, etc.) and I fully support these concepts, with the key word there being 'concepts.' You see, I'm a motorist. Contrary to popular belief, it's very easy to drive around the city of Toronto as long as you use an ounce of common sense and know which side streets to use during rush hour. And, y'know, the car is better than the bicycle. They're bigger, you can actually put stuff in them, and you're not totally screwed if you're out driving your car and it starts to rain, unless you happen to be driving Archie Andrews' jalopy. Even if I could ride a bicycle, I'd still choose to drive more often than not just because it's a superior vehicle.
Now, all this being said, I certainly don't fully support the "Cyclists are evil, bike lanes must be destroyed, pass me my bucket of fried chicken, BLARGH!" argument proposed by Rob Ford. Agreeing with Ford would make me break out in hives. Ford may not, in fact, be a person, but rather the latest model of the ConservaBot 3000, designed and programmed to follow conservative ideals at all times, no matter how they may fly in the face of logic or common decency. (The initial model is still in use and is located at 24 Sussex Drive.) As you can tell, the Terminator franchise's claim that cyborgs would be built in the image of physically impressive forms like Arnold Schwarzenegger or Kristanna Loken is quite a bit of science fiction. It just makes more sense to build a robot that looks like a big fat guy; provides more space for extra, I dunno, wires. Don't ask me, I'm no engineer.
So while having fewer cyclists in Toronto would personally bring me pleasure, it would also bring pleasure to Rob Ford, and we can't have that. Ergo, I'm stuck in the middle of this great war between the mayor and TO's cyclists. There is obviously lots of room for middle ground in this argument, but 'middle ground' isn't something that Ford understands, sort of like the concept of diet soda. Similarly, the other side features such eye-rolling parties as the Toronto Cyclists Union, which may or may not be subtitled The Brotherhood Of Hipsters With Too Much Time On Their Hands.
In short, I've now written this piece without taking either side or even managing to make any sort of larger point based on my personal feeling. Congratulations, I've tricked you into reading a Chuck Klosterman essay.