Friday, March 09, 2007

Rob Ford

Toronto city councillor Rob Ford said:

I can't support bike lanes. Roads are built for buses, cars, and trucks. My heart bleeds when someone gets killed, but it's their own fault at the end of the day.

I like Rob Ford. He's always struck me as an independent individual who stands up for what he believes. He doesn't take his convictions out of any standard package that I know of. I probably give him too much credit for not following the consensus of the "left/arts" crowd in this city. But I do respect the man.

That said, in this case, he's made a mistake. The law which defines the purpose of public roads in Ontario, the Ontario Highway Traffic act, defines a vehicle this way:

“vehicle” includes a motor vehicle, trailer, traction engine, farm tractor, road-building machine, bicycle and any vehicle drawn, propelled or driven by any kind of power, including muscular power, but does not include a motorized snow vehicle or a street car; (“vĂ©hicule”)

The Province of Ontario, which has the authority to build public roads and set the rules for their use, says that bicycles do belong on roads. The people of Ontario speak through that law, and until those who disagree change the laws (anyone has the right to try), cyclists by definition have the right to use the roads.

I have to go further; I think Councillor Ford should apologise. As a public servant, he has a responsibility to uphold the law. The law defines the public road as a space where people have a right to ride our bicycles. If someone dies in a crash while exercising a legal right, the blame does not rest with them. Any driver who carelessly hits a cyclist will quickly discover that. Nothing says Mr. Ford has to approve of spending city money for bicycle lanes, but out of respect for both motorists and cyclists, I urge him to retract his comments.

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