Robert Ford, Toronto’s mayoral candidate says: “Cyclists are a pain in the ass!”

As our regular readers are very well aware, Travis and I are fierce proponents of active transportation, and we have both discussed the topic on Obesity Panacea.

In an editorial I published in the Kingston Whig Standard last year, I discussed some of the difficulties and dangers of adopting active transportation.

Here is a brief excerpt:

Recently, the Canadian Medical Association released a policy statement recommending that “all sectors (government, business and the public) work together, as a matter of priority, to create a culture in their communities that supports and encourages active transportation.”

This policy statement is yet another attempt by the medical community to alleviate the growing rates of physical inactivity in Canada. Currently, three-quarters of Canadian adult men and women fail to meet the recommended 30 minutes of physical activity each day, and are thus deemed inactive.

Given that physical inactivity is a known contributor to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer and multiple other health conditions, the health care cost of inactivity among Canadians approximates $4.3 billion each year.

Thus, in terms of personal health, the health of our community, and that of our overextended health care system, we all stand to gain much from adopting an active lifestyle.

One of the easiest ways to increase your level of daily physical activity is to use active modes of transportation, such as walking or cycling.Unfortunately, there is a lack of mutual respect between cyclists and motorists. Motorists perceive all cyclists to be untamed and reckless daredevils; meanwhile cyclists feel that many motorists are blood-thirsty cyclist hunters.

Since bicycles are legally considered to be equal to automobiles, cyclists must abide by all traffic regulations which apply to driving a car. On the other hand, motorists should understand the broad positive implications of active transportation by fellow members of the community, and encourage this activity by being courteous and accommodating to their pedaling peers.

Until mutual respect develops between cyclists and motorists, few Kingstonians will adopt habitual active transportation, no matter how many encouraging reports the medical community releases.

At another point, Travis wrote a plea to cyclists encouraging them to obey traffic laws.

In essence, both parties – cyclists and motorists – share in the blame for the all too common cycling accidents. Neither side gets very far by pointing fingers at the other party.

Unfortunately, that is the stance of Toronto’s Mayoral Candidate, Robert Ford – who, by the way, is currently ahead in the polls.

Check out this video below, which gives a good glimpse of his stance on public transportation. His thesis is: “Cyclists are a pain in the ass!”

Not to worry though, he later retracts his use of the word “ass”.

That is one class act! If you live in Toronto, and are a proponent of active transportation, you may want to think twice at the municipal elections in a couple of weeks.

Hat tip to Richard Larouche of Cyclo-Revolution for sending us the video.


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10 Responses to Robert Ford, Toronto’s mayoral candidate says: “Cyclists are a pain in the ass!”

  1. Jenny says:

    Rob Ford is an idiot. He thinks cyclists don’t belong on the road, he thinks the homeless shouldn’t get shelters, and he thinks that the only way a woman can get AIDS is if she slept with a bisexual man. Really. He said that.

    THIS guy is running for mayor of Canada’s largest, most diverse city? It’s absolutely absurd!

    His numbers are dropping every week and with any luck they’ll keep dropping. I feel that if someone was going to vote for Ford they would be decided on it by now, so hopefully the undecided voters (still around 30% of Torontonians, I think?) put their weight behind a candidate who, y’know, understands that for many living in the downtown core, a bike is the best way to get around the city. Not only is it cheap, great for the environment and often quicker than TTC, but it’s great for your health! Thompson had a great bike plan but, unfortunately, she’s dropped out. Pants and Smithers both seem to think cyclists are okay.

    Toronto needs a mayor who embraces the fact that people are different; Rob Ford needs to stop imagining that everyone in Toronto is rich, white and lives in the suburbs.

  2. julie says:

    You’re right, both sides blame each other something fierce. I bike and drive, wish I could be bike only, maybe some day. Everyone who starts to drive in this city (SF) is startled by how prevalent red-light running is in this town, yet aut0 drivers are so quick to complain about cyclists blowing off stop signs (as opposed to rolling through them at 15 mph, after a quick tap on the brakes, the “California stop”. A little tolerance and understanding and empathy on both sides would be quite useful. Your Toronto guy should ride a bike for a week or two, as should most drivers. Most bicyclist could stand to drive for a week or two, some of their expectations of drivers are just as inane.

  3. julie says:

    I mean that auto-drivers run the red commonly. I think all people will do whatever they can get away with, and peds can get away with a lot more than bikes, which can get away with a lot more than cars.

  4. Chris A says:

    Anyone in Toronto who wants to ask questions and hear mayoral candidate’s positions on physical activity and active living should check out the “Get Active Toronto Mayoral Town Hall” on October 20th (11-12:30pm) at the Metro-Central YMCA (20 Grosvenor St).

  5. Charles A-M says:

    Julie: The “Idaho stop” is where cyclists do not need to come to a complete stop at a stop sign if there is no crossing traffic. However, this is named after the law permitting this behaviour, rather than a slang term like the “California” one you reference (don’t people do that everywhere?). Cyclists in Oregon are pushing to get a similar law.

    Peter: It would be frightening to see Rob Ford get his way. If he is elected, hopefully the rest of council will outnumber him on cycling issues (though I know nothing about Toronto politics–I’m an Ottawa cyclist).

    Just one nitpick in your 2009 letter: cyclists aren’t quite “legally considered to be equal to automobiles;” rather, cyclists are vehicles under the Ontario Highway Traffic Act, as are automobiles. However, while most provisions of the HTA (and various municipal by-laws) apply to all vehicles (e.g. stopping, signalling, etc.), there are some that only apply to motor vehicles (e.g. speeding, I believe, and the recent cell phone ban, I’m sure), and some that apply to bicycles (e.g. can’t ride on 400-series highways, helmet provisions). The primary example of the latter is that cyclists must ride as far to the right as practicable (a variously-interpreted term that does NOT mean the same as “as far to the right as possible”).

    • julie says:

      Sorry, California stop is a car thing. Here, cars roll through stop signs (unless you’re on Stanford campus- they don’t like that and will ticket), and yellow means speed up so you can get through the light within a second or two of it turning red.

  6. E. Brown says:

    I’m pleasantly surprised that London UK is becoming a cycling friendly city. There’s bike routes shoehorned in across the city (sometimes with confusing results – bikes have to share with pedestrians on the sidewalks sometimes, you can imagine how well that works); a series of cycle superhighways has been marked out across the city.
    There are rush-hour ‘marshalled rides’ to help new riders find their way on the routes, and cycle with others. I can see the numbers of bikes increasing in my neighbourhood, because we’re on one of the main bike commuter routes.
    The mayor, Boris Johnson, while something of a Tory buffoon, is a committed cyclist who regularly rides around the city; and the city has unrolled a loaner bike service (‘Boris bikes’, of course!) that has taken off – the complaints are that it’s not widespread enough and payment systems aren’t yet online for tourists! Right now it’s by yearly subscription only.
    So change is possible. Sorry to hear the Toronto mayoral candidate is such a twit – Toronto is a great city to cycle around at least six months of the year. And good examples from the top really do make a difference.

  7. brtkrbzhnv says:

    You may not agree with his tone or whatever, but the idea that automobiles and velocipedes should be separated as much as possible is clearly sound. I think the idea that cyclists and motorists will somehow learn to get along is utopian, and city planners should simply take a look at places like Copenhagen and create a system where bicyclists and autoists come into contact and conflict as little as possible. Surely that is the best way to lower the amount of accidents and make cycling more attractive.

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