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Toronto Cyclists January 12, 2010

Posted by huymix in Politics, Sports.
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With a report that showed Toronto commute times doubling in the last 10 years, a lot of talk inevitably comes out that brings up: HOV lanes, more TTC subways/rapid transit/buses, and bike lanes. The last part comes from a relatively small, but highly vocal group of people and sometimes they have valid points. Unfortunately for Toronto cyclists, there are a few reasons why they are generally, and in the foreseeable future, dismissed by the public at large. While I can respect Toronto cyclists as people, there are a lot of reasons I dismiss them when they bring up bike lanes or other topics (generally all they talk about is bike lanes or that guy who stole a crap load of bikes):

  • All they ever talk about is bike lanes. They have the same problem that the Green Party had. The problem is that they are perceived to be a one-note group. So for the longest time the Green Party was a bit of a joke because all everyone thought the party platform was about the environment and not about other political issues. Toronto cyclists are perceived to be a broken record of “more bike lanes, more bike lanes, more bike lanes” and never really articulate anything else. That get’s played out very quick.
  • Attitude. Again I will draw a parallel here. Cyclists have the same problem as Prius drivers had (and many still have). If you cycle in to work everyday there is at least the perception (which may or may not be true) that you feel superior to those that drive. I’m not saying that everyone feels this way and that all cyclists do, but again the perception is out there for the group as a whole.
  • Cyclists play the victim card too much. Sympathy is a well that can go dry very quickly with the public (if there is any) and cyclists are too quick to dig for sympathy. What I mean is, a lot of representatives like to point out how dangerous it is to cycle in Toronto and how drivers are careless/rude/mean to cyclists which I’m sure is true. However, Toronto drivers are well aware of the dangerous and reckless cycling that goes on as well. When you see cyclists going ahead on a red or cycling between cars and sometimes hitting stuff any sympathy you have for cyclists quickly goes out the window.

At the end of the day, cyclists are a small but not insignificant group of commuters in Toronto. While bike lanes would probably help with improving cyclist safety, bike lanes will not solve the perception of Toronto cyclists. Anytime I hear someone is a cyclist I will generally reply with a “that’s good for you” but if anyone starts to moralize to me about how I should bike to work that’s when he or she will promptly be ignored.