After reading this article in today's Toronto Star, which sheds some light on the cost of providing parking spots for cyclists as part of World Carfree Day, I felt it was important to note a few things about this puff piece, entitled "Pushing bicycle use comes with a high price".
Today's World Carfree Day is paved with good intentions but providing space for alternatives to the car can be costly.
As in: $1,800 per cyclist using GO Transit's new secure bike lock-ups in Hamilton and Burlington, $3,700 per cyclist using GO's new bike shelters, and $1.44 million to put bike racks on about 1,600 TTC buses.
The Star has been instrumental in putting forth this idea of a "war" between cyclists and drivers - see their "Mean Streets" series. While typically the Star of all traditional media is the most progressive towards urban issues, they are way off the mark here.
With articles like this one, which are so one-sided and blatant in their ignorance of the facts, it's hard not to come to the conclusion that their editorial staff have a strong negative bias towards cycling.
I certainly encourage the Star and other news media to provide detail about the costs of providing secure parking for bicycles at GO stations. $1,800 or $3,700 per parking spot (depending on which facility you consider) seems like a lot of money to spend (with a $50/year charge it will take 36 years to pay back $1,800).
However, the story fails to applied the same scrutiny to the cost of providing parking for automobiles.
Back on February 17, 2009, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty and Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced an investment of $500 million in the GO Transit system. A large portion of that money - about $249 million - was dedicated to the construction of parking facilities.
These new parking facilities would provide 6,800 new parking spaces across the GO system. If you do the math, that's a cost of over $36,000 per parking space - with no revenue from parking to offset the cost.
Therefore, it costs taxpayers who subsidize GO Transit's capital budget ten times as much to provide parking for a bike as it does for an automobile.
Now, doesn't "providing space for alternatives to the car" seem like a big bargain? Why on earth does the Star ignore this obvious fact?
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