Let's focus on making our streets safer - not cherry-picking facts to pit roads users against one another
It's long been our position that better road design benefits everyone, regardless of their transportation choice. That's why we felt compelled to respond to a series of articles published in the Financial Post putting road users against one another.
December 21, 2017
We are writing firstly to commend you for covering the voting down of MPP Cheri DiNovo’s private members’ bill (Bill 158) to amend the Highway Traffic Act with stronger protection for vulnerable road users. It is essential that media continue to document the push to update provincial legislation to address traffic violence occurring on our roads every day.
Secondly, we are concerned about the series of op-eds you have published this month by Lawrence Solomon, who is well-known for using unsubstantiated facts and divisive rhetoric to dispute scientifically-backed studies on climate change, and has been called out multiple times for misrepresenting scientific research. Solomon constantly ignores concepts that are widely accepted in engineering and transportation planning, namely the law of induced demand, which states that increasing the supply of roads leads to ever more congestion - not less.
With inflammatory titles like “Ban the bike! How cities made a huge mistake in promoting cycling”, “Bicycles kill. How urban cycling policies made city streets more lethal”, and “How ‘road diets’ are making our car commutes even more painful” these op-eds are detracting from necessary conversations about our autocentric transportation system - a system which is causing devastating losses of life, as occurred yesterday when a man riding his bicycle was struck and killed by a truck driver at College St. W. and Ossington Ave.
In his most recent op-ed on road diets, Solomon draws false equivalencies between expanding our network of pedestrian and cycling infrastructure and slowing down traffic. This argument implies that people walking, riding bikes, and taking transit are lesser than those choosing to drive cars, and therefore do not deserve dedicated space on our roadways. He is effectively pitting road users against each other, when now, more than ever, we need to be talking about our flawed transportation system - not blaming each other for the frustrations we feel when stuck in traffic.
As Toronto’s largest membership-based cycling advocacy organization, we hear time and time again that we need to work together for street design that puts people first - regardless of their transportation choice. Much progress has been made by groups like Friends and Families for Safe Streets, the Toronto Centre for Active Transportation, Share the Road, Vision Zero Canada and many others, to advance conversations that will shape healthier and more equitable cities where everyone has the right and ability to move around safely. It would be a shame to undermine this progress by reverting to lazy rhetoric that doesn't contribute anything new to conversations about our failing transportation systems.
For these reasons, we urge you to reconsider publishing op-eds that distort and manipulate facts in order to advance an agenda which will lead us to more congestion, more collisions, more deaths, and above all, a more divided society.