Why am I not Surprised? Coke Sniffing Mayor Was Elected on the “Anti Bicycle” Platform.

December 16, 2013

Toronto’s answer to the Tea Party, Crack sniffing Mayor Rob Ford, it turns out, was elected by his conservative base, in part, for his brave and principled stand against bicycles.

Boston Globe:

EVEN BEFORE TORONTO MAYOR Rob Ford became internationally famous for being videotaped smoking crack, he was known as a City Hall version of Bluto Blutarsky of “Animal House”—swearing in public, proudly overeating, guzzling booze. His boorishness is so conspicuous and well documented that it raises the question: Who elected this guy? And why?

The answer, in large part, comes down to transit. Ford is famously pro-car, and his strongest support came from suburbs outside downtown Toronto, where voters drive into the city during the day and return by car in the evening. One political scientist found that the strongest predictor of whether someone voted for Ford in the 2010 mayoral election was the person’s method of commuting: Car commuters were Ford voters; everyone else wasn’t. Ford repaid their loyalty by declaring on his first day as mayor that the “war on cars” was over; he abolished the vehicle registration tax and announced a plan to kill light rail in the city simply because, he said, streetcars “are just a pain in the rear end.”

But Ford reserves special venom for the menace called the bicycle. He is perhaps the most antibike politician in the world.

In 2007, he told the Toronto City Council that roads were designed for only buses, cars, and trucks. If cyclists got killed on roads, “it’s their own fault at the end of the day,” he said. He compared biking on a city street to swimming with sharks—“sooner or later you’re going to get bitten.” He once summarized his views in City Hall succinctly: “Cyclists are a pain in the ass to the motorists.”

This all might seem kind of crazy—the rantings of an unmuzzled Canadian demagogue better known for his disastrous personal habits. But in his antipathy for bikes, Ford appears to be part of a trend. Particularly in America, the bicycle is emerging as a new conservative front in the culture wars. In May, Wall Street Journal commentator Dorothy Rabinowitz called bicyclists “the most important danger in the city”; in Colorado’s last governor’s election, a Republican candidate said a local bike-sharing program “could threaten our personal freedoms.” A columnist for the conservative Washington Times declared D.C. bike-sharing programs to be “broken-down socialism”; radio pundit Rush Limbaugh said he “won’t care” if his car door knocks over a cyclist.

Conservative politicians know that simply opposing causes like environmentalism appeals to the base. At the extreme end, this leads to some positions that almost defy belief—“I love that smell of the emissions,” said the former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, while riding a motorcycle—but bikes represent more of an everyday rebuke, a quiet reminder that your car isn’t the only way to get around.

In this respect, Rob Ford isn’t just a mess. He is a visionary—perhaps the first candidate to win an election in part by fanning public annoyance at those reckless, entitled, tax-and-spend bicycle riders. As new bike lanes make their slow incursions into downtown traffic patterns, it’s reasonable we can expect more such victories. It might seem frustrating for bike supporters, but there is one consolation: In politics, you get attacked because you matter.

“There’s been a huge increase” in the number of bikers, says Schwartz, who put in New York’s first bike lane in 1978. “The love affair with the car is over for young people.” After decades of unquestioned, highway-sponsored dominance of cars, bikes are finally becoming—even if just on the margins—something big enough to push against. Just ask Rob Ford. Or don’t. He’ll tell you anyway.

In a related development:


Even if you saw agitating, bumper-to-bumper traffic during your morning commute, know that the numbers say things are changing.

The average American drives 7.6 percent fewer miles today than when per-capita driving peaked in 2004, according to a report issued today by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group Education Fund (PIRG). The study is a review of data from the Federal Highway Administration, Federal Transit Administration and Census Bureau on the nation’s 100 most populated, urbanized areas, which are home to more than half of the U.S. population.

From 2006 to 2011, the average number of miles driven per resident fell in almost three-quarters of the country’s largest city’s, according to the report.


14 Responses to “Why am I not Surprised? Coke Sniffing Mayor Was Elected on the “Anti Bicycle” Platform.”

  1. dumboldguy Says:

    And let’s not forget our very own daveburton’s conservative antipathy towards bicyclists. Remember the “vicious bicyclist” picking on the”poor little old guy just trying to make a living selling flowers on a street corner”? And the big-mouthed conservative lobbyist that Dave so unwisely chose to support? That “discussion” was the first time that I saw Dave’s true colors as a conservative ideologue and unrelenting horsepucky purveyor. I treasure the memory.

    • greenman3610 Says:

      well, that’s one good argument for a policy of letting deniers post.

      • dumboldguy Says:

        Yes, and I’m coming to see it your way the more time I spend with Crock reading their postings. They are also fascinating case studies in abnormal psychology. I think some of them DO need an enforced timeout every once in a while to disabuse them of the notion that anyone actually believes what they say.

        Dave is here to play whack-a-mole again, and his very first comment on the thread is an obvious attempt to distract and divert. First, he repeats the same lame argument he made on that long dead thread, first trying to establish some “credibility” with “I own two bicycles”. Didn’t he say somewhere on another thread on which he was accused of being a racist that “He had two black friends”, and therefore just couldn’t be a racist?

        Second, he launches off into something the Fat Fool in Toronto said during Gay Pride Week, which has nothing TO DO with bicycles. Will we run off into the rhetoric swamp with Dave and ignore the real thrust of the thread?

        I hope not. To help Dave focus, I will briefly SHOUT.


  2. daveburton Says:

    Old guy, I have two bicycles, and no antipathy toward bicyclists. But I do have antipathy toward a jerk who made a false police report about almost colliding with a parked fan, which he dishonestly called “very dangerous,” to try to cause trouble for a poor street-side flower vendor who was just trying to earn a living in difficult circumstances.

    As for mayor Ford, my intuition suggests that he’s probably about as much of a bicyclist as he is a Bible-thumper. In his proclamation at Toronto’s gay Pride Week, he said:

    “Pride Week is an opportunity to celebrate the harmony in which we co-exist and raise awareness about the barriers some individuals still face in the areas of health care, public safety, employment and the recognition of family relationships.”

    • Rob Kerr Says:

      The irony will be completely lost on him.

      • dumboldguy Says:

        Obviously, you have been watching daveburton’s earlier comments on other threads, and you are 100% correct. As with nearly all conservatives and deniers, things like irony, satire, sarcasm, and even the general concept of humor are alien concepts. They don’t get it. The same is true of certain computer engineers (but not Dilbert).

      • dumboldguy Says:

        PS I forgot to point out that if Dave IS a paid denier, as many of his comments would suggest, then what I said about him “not getting it” is not 100% true. He will get SOME of it, but he must act as if he doesn’t so that he can shovel his horsepucky with a straight face and earn his paycheck.

        It doesn’t crack up while you’re in the middle of making some outrageous misstatement of truth—people will surely then not take you seriously. It would be like the fire-and-brimstone bible waving preacher cracking up in the middle of a sermon about how all us “lib’rul AGW-believin’ sinners” are going to hell id we don’t REPENT!.

  3. This is not to imply in any way that all bicycle haters are coke sniffing, overeating, boozing slobs. I would not like to imply in any way, that certain deniers are humor or satire challenged. Not in any way at all.

  4. greenman3610 Says:

    I wouldn’t ask dave to recommend a surgeon.
    climate deniers seem overly impressed with the climate science judgement of veterinarians and orthodontists.
    anyone that hangs out with scientists, or even science-trained technicians, soon learns that there is a big difference between specialties, even in the same field.
    which is why, if I had a brain tumor, I would not go to a proctologist.
    no matter what my wife has told you.

    • daveburton Says:

      If you wanted to know whether acupuncture is quackery or an effective medical procedure, would you ask only acupuncturists, as the “most specialized and knowledgeable” medical practitioners?

      • dumboldguy Says:

        I myself, Dave, would seek out an ENGINEER for advice. After all, they have enough training in “basic science” to speak out on climate change, so they MUST also be qualified to practice medicine as well.

        And, like Peter, I wouldn’t ask Dave to recommend a surgeon. I WOULD take his advice on where to find irrelevant, misleading, and crackpot “science” to post, or how to be a denier troll that obfuscates, diverts, and disrupts discussion. THAT is an area of dwmonstrated knowledge for him.

  5. Reminds me of the movie Rushmore. Max father is a barber. A doctor comes up to him.
    Doctor: I hear you are a neurosurgeon.
    Barber: No, I’m a barber. A lot of people make that mistake.

  6. John Q: do you know the difference between an elephant and a mailbox?
    Dave: I give, what is it?
    John Q: I guess I’ll never send you to mail a letter.

  7. […] reported before on so-called conservatives, including the crack sniffing mayor of Toronto, waging war against bicyclists. The Tea Party  is particularly suspicious of bikers – because […]

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