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WATCHDOG: Cyclists waging a war for safety, not on cars

Inside Toronto: WATCHDOG: Cyclists waging a war for safety, not on cars

On a snowy evening a couple of weeks back, I met a group of local cyclists at a coffee shop near the Carrot Common on the Danforth.
The group is made up of volunteer members of the Toronto Cyclist Union who have organized themselves into a smaller group called Ward 29 Bikes.

Most members had cycled to the meeting that snowy night, which is a normal practice for them as they cycle all year round.

So what was discussed?

Despite what many critics of Toronto's cycling policy would have you believe, there was no talk about a "war on cars" or making life difficult for those who use motor vehicles.

The discussion focused entirely upon building a community model for safe roads for cyclists, pedestrians and drivers through information, co-operation and good behaviour.

I have been personally involved with cycling in Toronto for many years, and have been involved with a number of cyclist organizations as well.

Never once have I ever encountered a call for a "war on cars."

Instead, the main topic of conversations in the cycling community has always been focused on one simple request for those who drive trucks, cars and buses: share the road in a safe manner.

The Ward 29 Bikes group is no different.

The discussion that evening focused upon getting a safety message out to the public during the next municipal election.

Its goal is to make cycling on Toronto streets safe enough that children can ride their bicycles on them as they once were able to do.

This whole "war on cars" rhetoric being pushed by some candidates for municipal office has done nothing but create a climate of dangerous disrespect on the part of some motor vehicle drivers towards those on two wheels.

One example of this disingenuous rhetorical nonsense can be found in the mistaken idea that one lane of roadway is being removed from Jarvis Street solely to put in a bicycle lane.

Likewise, similar disinformation that has been put forward suggests that the local Cosburn bike route is a "bike lane to nowhere", which again is completely untrue and unnecessarily divisive.

Cyclists, such as those who are part of the Ward 29 Bikes group, are trying to counter this negative campaign with a more positive message that our streets can be safe for all people to cycle upon.

More importantly, they want to get the message out that cycling is a year-round form of transportation, which can be used for more than recreation, but for commuting and shopping as well.

There are many real issues that affect everyone using the roads of this city that need to be addressed without resorting to angry exchanges and "them and us" attitudes.

If you wish more information about Toronto's cycling community, you can read more on Ward 29 Bikes webpage at www.29bikes.ca and meet with the group in person.