Media

The Star's Bias Against Cyclists

By Chris Ariens
Published September 22, 2009

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?

Chris is 38 years old and married with one child. While he lived in Hamilton/Stoney Creek very early on, he now lives in Burlington and commutes to work in Toronto daily.

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By birdie (registered) | Posted September 22, 2009 at 14:01:07

With their war on cycling, the Star is giving the Sun a run for their money.

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By JonC (registered) | Posted September 22, 2009 at 14:14:35

I read that this morning as well. The other issue not listed is that road infrastructure needs to be developed and that increasing the ridership of the GO (bike lockers are a less dense parking alternative, so more people can park in the same space) will increase profitability of the train overall. It's like they went out of their way to find the most jarring number and then try to disgust the readership with it, without even bothering to interview someone at GO that might be able to cast some clarity as to why the lockers are a worthwhile investment.

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By lukev (anonymous) | Posted September 22, 2009 at 14:51:38

While implying that the parking spots are free is inexcusable, at least the article mentions this:

"We've seen the number of people cycling to GO stations increase by about 20 per cent each year for the past three years. With growth of 20 per cent each year, those spots will be close to full in just five years,"

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By You are the engine (anonymous) | Posted September 22, 2009 at 17:40:32

The other issue that speaks to parking bicycles at the GO station is the desire for multi-modal bicycle transportation. Having commuted by GO train, getting to the local station was the easy part. What I wanted was to take my bike with me to Toronto to get around in the city.

Via Rail is making steps to improve on this facet of transportation (bike train), but problems will remain until transportation networks allow cyclist to travel WITH their bikes. Despite their efforts, VIA has a long way to go. I can't travel with my bicycle from Montreal to Ottawa or Ottawa to Toronto because those trains don't have "checked baggage," and my disassembled bicycle in its bag (or case) is considered too large for carry on baggage.

Major F41L.

youaretheengine.wordpress.com

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By jason (registered) | Posted September 22, 2009 at 17:56:31

LOL. That article headline alone is a laugher. Maybe they should get their reporters to do some research on which modes of transportation truly require a high price to operate.

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By joejoe (anonymous) | Posted September 22, 2009 at 19:55:15

Don't get me started on VIA Rail's practice of transporting bikes. It's an absolute joke. You might as well just bike there and back than try to arrange transport by train.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted September 22, 2009 at 21:21:44

I have lots of ideas for GO - one of which is to provide one "bike car" on each train. Say the car closest to the engine. This car would have the same lower level layout as the accessible car - with foldaway seats - but the addition of bike racks.

Then, even in rush hour, those who wish to take a bike can do so with minimal effect on other passengers. And those who don't want to risk brushing up against a bike chain can easily choose a non-bike car.

Union is a more difficult challenge because of the number of staircases. Perhaps exhibition could be dedicated as the bike-friendly station during rush hour, so that union can remain bike-free during those times (the way it is now).

Being able to take your bike on the GO would open up a whole new market of commuters who cannot take transit now because they are beyond walking distance from each end of their go trip. If you live in Hamilton and work at Bloor, you are screwed because Hamilton is not 100% serviced, and the additional time and money cost of daily TTC connection is prohibitive. But riding to aldershot and then riding to bloor is easy and free.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted September 22, 2009 at 22:18:52

Comments with a score below -5 are hidden by default.

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

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By A Troll (anonymous) | Posted September 23, 2009 at 09:42:09

>A Smith

weak troll is weak.

1 out of 10.

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By Gus (anonymous) | Posted September 23, 2009 at 10:16:08

No surprise, the Caronto Star has no use for cycling. Look at their stance against the Jarvis bikelanes and alone Bloor-Danforth as well.
They see cycling as dangerous, only done by weirdos.

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By A Troll (anonymous) | Posted September 23, 2009 at 10:26:59

Gus

polarizing events like some city's take on critical mass don't exactly help with the "cyclists are just like you" image that people in cars / decision makers need to see.

on the other hand, there's Critical Manners in Vancouver

"The Critical Manners ride originated in San Fransisco in 2007, started by Reama Dagasan as a response to the Critical Mass rides that were getting out of hand.

After hearing of the VPD's announcement (their first ever regarding this activity in Vancouver) requesting people not drive to or through downtown on Friday evening, I thought a peaceful, purposeful and above-all respectful bike event was exactly what we needed.

Thus, Critical Manners Vancouver was born!

We ride Friday August 14th at 6:00pm through the streets of Vancouver. We'll be easy to miss, since we'll be staying in bike lanes or on the far right side of the road, obeying all traffic signals and otherwise doing our best to share the road effectively with all other vehicles and pedestrians."



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By Cycle Disobedience (anonymous) | Posted September 24, 2009 at 17:26:57

Sorry. Critical Manners sounds pathetic. You don't make change by being nice. And staying to the far right of the road? That's not even required by law - at least here in Ontario.

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By LL (registered) - website | Posted September 24, 2009 at 21:31:55

This Star crap smells top-down to me. I'd bet the Liberals are planning some kind of legislative move against cycling.

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