By Ryan McGreal
Published September 21, 2009
On Thursday, September 17 at 5:40 PM, Scott Thompson of AM900 CHML conducted a live telephone interview with me on the subject of bike lanes. Here is a transcript of the interview.
Scott Thompson, AM900 CHML (ST): If you missed yesterday's column in the Hamilton Spectator, it is there for you at 900chml.com. Simply click on the Scott Thompson show page and you will find it. It talks about cycling and cars and how we all just need to get along. You can also read in Raise the Hammer, raisethehammer.org, Ryan McGreal is the editor of raisethehammer.org, and the headline is "Talk Radio Ran No Way to Debate Policy". He says, "Yes I'm talking about Scott Thompson's steaming load of codsawallop on the subject of cycling and bike lanes. Maybe streams of ignorant, self-important riffing are standard fare for talk radio, but we should expect a higher standard from the paper's opinion pages. Uninformed rationalizing from a set of prejudices might make for entertaining rants on the long route home, but makes for a lousy public policy debate." Hello, Ryan, how you doing?
Ryan McGreal, Raise the Hammer (RM): Not bad, how about you?
ST: I'm doing very well, but I'm hurt.
RM: I know, I'm not usually that grumpy.
ST: You know, I'm thinking, first of all, Ryan, that if we spend enough time with our heads together, trying to come up with a constructive plan as you have trying to insult me, maybe we'd have a solution to this!
RM: But you know, we already have a solution, that's the beauty of it. We already know what works. All we have to do is look at cities all around the world that have built continuous bike networks. And they don't have these conflicts, they have lots more cyclists, they have cleaner air, they have fewer casualties. I mean, we don't have to guess about what works. All we have do do is look at what's already working.
ST: I don't think that anybody - as I said in the article, I don't think anybody in Hamilton is against bike lanes, or networks, or hooking them all together, all of that sort of thing. My point in the article was, is that, Obviously in Southern Ontario, we have a congestion problem that isn't going to go away just by announcing that tomorrow, everybody has to ride a bicycle. Removing a car lane, and again, I'm all for figuring out ways to make it work, and I think there's lots of different ways. I just, I question whether we should be removing a lane of traffic in order to make a bicycle lane. Would that not increase congestion?
RM: Well, I don't think so. If you think about it, you can fit a lot of bicycles in the same area as one car. You know, if you have - I mean, you don't need a full lane to ride a bike. All you need is a few feet.
ST: I'm well aware of that, Ryan, but at the end of the day, way more people are driving their cars than are riding bicycles.
RM: Well, sure they are.
ST: When it gets to the point where this is obviously, the other way around, then I can see your point. So again, how can we come up with a way of integrating the bicycles and the cars together but not necessarily sacrificing one or the other? Neither one's going away.
RM: Well, see, the thing is, people respond to incentives. If you make it very easy to do something-
RM: -People will do more of it.
RM: If you make it harder, people will do less of it.
RM: Right now, most people drive most of the time because there aren't any other choices-
ST: Absolutely, Ryan, but, but don't you think this is a much more complex problem than erasing the lines on a road and painting new ones? I mean, this is a transit issue, this is a cycling issue, it's a sidewalk, it's a pathway issue, it's a very complex onion. And to just all of a sudden say, "Alright, no more cars allowed in here", and hopefully-
RM: Hold on-
ST: Hang on a sec, and hoping that everybody-
RM: Hold on, Scott-
ST: Hoping that everybody jumps on their bike and all of a sudden starts riding is unrealistic.
RM: You're attacking a straw man. Nobody's saying no more cars.
ST: I'm not attacking a straw man! Come on, Ryan! Don't give me that crap about a straw man!
RM: If you look at how much space a bike lane takes up, it's a tiny fraction of the amount of space that a car lane takes up, and it can actually carry more people more efficiently in less space-
ST: It can-
RM: It's a more efficient use of the road.
ST: It can, but it's not right now. That's the point.
RM: It's not because the bike lanes aren't there. How can bike lanes carry people more efficiently if there aren't any bike lanes?
ST: Look at any of the bike lanes that are around the city right now. They're not jammed.
RM: They're not continuous, Scott. If I built a road that started nowhere, and it continued and went to nowhere, and it wasn't attached to any other roads, would people take it?
ST: You know-
RM: They wouldn't. A bike lane that goes from nowhere to nowhere is no use to anybody. It's the connectivity that-
ST: I agree with everything-
RM: If you build a continuous bike lane, people use it. If you look at Portland, if you look at New York, if you look at London, Paris - all of those cities-
ST: I'm in agreeance [sic] with -
RM: They used to be very hostile to bikes and now they're becoming more and more friendly and more people are riding.
ST: I'm in agreeance with everything that you say. I'm in agreeance with everything you say about bicycles, I'm a cyclist. What I have a problem with, and where I think we need a little bit more consultation and a little bit more ingenuity, is a way to create a network that doesn't necessarily mean taking a lane out of two or three or four lanes of traffic. Because right now, the need just simply isn't there. The demand simply isn't there.
RM: I think the demand is there, but it's latent. If you look, over the last few years, cycling has been increasing steadily even without having proper infrastructure. And if you look at cities where they actually build it, people use it. I mean, if you look at Portland, they've increased their cycling eight times in the past-
ST: I would agree with that. I would agree with everything you're saying, Ryan, but what I'm-
RM: But if you agree that if we build it, people will use it, and the other thing that's really important to remember is that, you know, in the article you talk about "conflict" between cars and cyclists, now I ride a bike every day, have done for years, that's how I commute to work and back, I ride in mixed traffic, I ride on York Blvd, I ride on King, I ride on Main, and I don't feel that it's a war. I'm not in conflict with cars, I get along well, I feel safe, you know, I don't feel that there's this war going on. I think it's a lot of sensationalizing.
ST: Well, you know, the only war that, I don't think the car drivers feel there's a war either, I think it's the cyclists that feel that there's a war. You know, again, I mean, if you look at all the cyclists on the road, and all of the cars that are on the road, and how many cars are obeying the laws, and the traffic laws, and how many bikes are disobeying them, I mean come on, it's, it's, it's-
RM: You know what? I can show you, you go to any intersection that has a four-way stop, and sit there and mark how many cars come to a full stop. Almost zero.
ST: How many bikes don't even slow down? They just go blasting right through, Ryan. Come on!
RM: And some cars do, too. You can't, you can't look at, at, you know, at-
ST: We're getting off track now. We're getting off track. The point is, my point is, is that, you know, I think there's a great need for this, and I think it, it, people want this, but I think, as soon as you start creating and adding congestion to the roads by removing a car lane, a traffic lane, and that's what you're doing, you're adding congestion to the roads by adding -
RM: You're not, because the more people who ride a bike, each person in a bicycle isn't in a car.
ST: I know but the point-
RM: When I ride a bike -
ST: I know that, Ryan.
RM: I'm not in a car.
ST: I know that, Ryan, but-
RM: But you can't ignore that.
ST: I know that, Ryan, but the point is-
RM: It's a dynamic system, it's a dynamic change. You're increasing the number of cyclists, you're reducing the number of drivers. And every bicycle takes up a lot less space on the road than a car with one person in it, and most cars have one person in them most of the time-
ST: The reality is-
RM: Congestion will go down.
ST: So again, what you're demanding everybody to do is stop driving and start riding their bike.
RM: Of course not! People will always drive. I drive sometimes, and I'll continue to drive. What I'm saying is that people should have a choice. If people want to ride a bike, the facilities should exist -
ST: Nobody's disagreeing-
RM: We can build a bike network across the entire city -
ST: Nobody's disagreeing with any of that-
RM: for less than what it costs to manage our roads for one year.
ST: Nobody's disagreeing with any of that-
RM: The cost is very small. It's a very big payoff for a very small cost. The air is cleaner, the roads are safer, congestion goes down, people have more choice-
ST: I don't see how you can be removing a lane of traffic and congestion going down.
RM: Because people who were in cars are now in bicycles.
ST: All we have to do is see the accident on, listen, Ryan, the last time there was an accident on the 403, and everything was closed down, and it all went into the back streets, and ended up, you know, we're going down two lanes of York Blvd. Again, I agree with everything you're saying, I agree with everything you're saying, but I think there's a more, it needs a little bit more ingenuity here and I think we can come up with a better solution than just eliminating a car lane. Anyway, very much appreciative, Ryan, of you joining us, it is called "Talk Radio Ranting No Way to Debate Policy", raisethehammer.org, Ryan McGreal, thanks for joining us.
RM: Thanks a lot for the time. Take care.
(Original audio source available on the Scott Thompson Talk website.)
By birdie (registered) | Posted September 21, 2009 at 12:44:17
Summary: I agree with everything you say but refuse to draw the only possible conclusion.
By Really? (registered) | Posted September 21, 2009 at 13:14:46
Said like a True Hamiltonian! "If it aint broke, don't fix it" "But what about the cars!?" "But what about the cars!?" "But what about the cars!?"
Seems like he just kept repeating his same argument over and over and over and over... ok, ok... while not even acknowledging your (Ryan's) responses, although 'agreeing' with them.
Is it any wonder why Hamiltonians are so ignorant towards Urban Living, or Progressiveness, in general? It's clearly b/c of ignorant people who 'report' these stories to them.
By jason (registered) | Posted September 21, 2009 at 13:31:07
no wonder I never listen to CHML. The guy did nothing but interrupt and make zero sense.
Geez, when you see the crap that is fed to the public via CHML and The Spec it's no wonder our city is like a backwater deadzone in the most prosperous region of Canada.
I'm reminded of a great book that is 100% true today as it was when it was written - "The media, the mafia and the party machine". This city will never have a hope of becoming successful again as long as the current powerbrokers are in charge. Brutal.
I should say though Ryan, you did a great job. All of your points made sense. So much sense in fact, Thompson seemed to repeat the same line over and over - "I agree, I agree".
Unfortunately he didn't finish the sentence - "I agree, but I choose to attack a strawman because it will be better for my ratings".
By Tammany (anonymous) | Posted September 21, 2009 at 13:49:24
"This city will never have a hope of becoming successful again as long as the current powerbrokers are in charge. Brutal. "
I couldn't agree more. Any campaign seeking to effect major change in the governance of this city should start by exposing the nexus of interrelation and mutual benefit existing between politicians, bureaucrats, and prominent businesspeople (read developers) in Hamilton. I can assure you that a little digging will yield up something a lot more rotten than you would have imagined.
As for this interview, Scott comes across as a complete baby and reactionary. He's trying to put up a facade of progressiveness and hipness - "I'm a cyclist" - but he just keeps devolving into fearmongering and obfuscation. No one is trying to take the roads away from the drivers, and Scott knows this, but he also knows that the perfectly reasonable argument that Ryan is trying to advance will not elicit the reaction he seeks from his listeners.
By nobrainer (registered) | Posted September 21, 2009 at 13:53:20
Reminds me of that famous interview with Jon Stewart on CNN Crossfire where he tells the hosts their show is "hurting America".
Scott Thompson and his ilk are hurting Hamilton. Stop. Stop hurting Hamilton. Start working for us, the people. We don't pay well but you can sleep at night. We need your help.
By z jones (registered) | Posted September 21, 2009 at 13:56:26
OK question: you're a Scott Thompson listener, you're not an RTH reader, you hear this interview. What do you think at the end? Is this Ryan guy a loony left from the fringe? Is Scott being fair to him? Is he making any sense?
I'm not just asking for affect. What does the average talk radio listener think after hearing this?
By Kev (anonymous) | Posted September 21, 2009 at 14:00:24
I think an important point has been missed in this interview.
Before there was cars on the roads, someone built a road. So it reasons that if you want people to ride their bikes, make a place for them to ride their bikes.
Ryan was right, if you want people to do something, you need to give them an incentive. As an example look at the HOV lanes on the 403. Following Scott's logic, converting a lane to HOV would cause greater congestion in the other lanes. Perhaps, but the goal is to get more people to car pool so that there are fewer cars, and the HOV is the incentive to do that. If you create bike lanes, that would be the incentive for people to ride their bikes.
As for bikes lanes already in the city, I was driving down a section of Stonechurch the other day and thought of how ridiculous it was to have a bike lane in the middle of car paradise. Clearly the city was just trying to give the illusion of creating a bicycle infrasture, as this lane is nowhere near where it could be most useful to the largest amount of people.
By frank (registered) | Posted September 21, 2009 at 14:05:35
I listen to CHML, I also listen to other stations, and read online news, and read onlinepolls, visit cities, and I THINK!!! The problem isn't the medium, it's that some of the people listening or reading accept as factual what they hear or read without thought.
Use of hyperbole in Scott's statements was rampant - using words like "demanding" or stating that because you want a proper cycling infrastructure you're saying that no cars are allowed on the road is typical of the fear mongering taking place on the opposite side of the debate. What they don't realize is that it's quite possible, in many locations, to make smaller lanes (which slows down traffic - a good thing) and incorporate a bike lane.
I also don't think Scott's listeners are all supportive of his arguments (I for one am not) but I happen to agree with the title of Ryan's original article, talk radio rants are no place to promote a personal opinion on such a topic.
By Brioski8 (registered) | Posted September 21, 2009 at 14:23:28
Since Mr. Thompson is unfamiliar with the logical fallicy of "Attacking a Strawman" Here is the Wikipedia entry:
"A straw man argument is an informal fallacy based on misrepresentation of an opponent's position. To "attack a straw man" is to create the illusion of having refuted a proposition by substituting a superficially similar proposition (the "straw man"), and refuting it, without ever having actually refuted the original position"
Here is the Straw man:
"And to just all of a sudden say, 'Alright, no more cars allowed in here'"
And here is Mr. Thompsons refutation of said Straw man:
"Hoping that everybody jumps on their bike and all of a sudden starts riding is unrealistic"
Here is Ryan calling Scott out:
"You're attacking a straw man. Nobody's saying no more cars. "
And here is Mr. Thompson displaying his ignorance for all to see:
"I'm not attacking a straw man! Come on, Ryan! Don't give me that crap about a straw man"
Wow, my respect for you as a person and a radio personality has just plumetted Mr. Thompson. Do you even listen to your words as they come spilling out of your mouth?
I remember a cool movie where a bunch of natives burned a huge straw man in the middle of a field - anyone know it?
By z jones (registered) | Posted September 21, 2009 at 14:58:47
Maybe you're thinking of the Burning Man festival in the Nevada Desert?
No it's not that...! There was a bunch of angry natives holding torches, they ran into a field and burned down this huge straw man. It was near the end of the movie.
By Tammany (anonymous) | Posted September 21, 2009 at 15:05:47
Ben, are you thinking of the Robin Hardy movie "The Wicker Man"?
It's a pretty chilling film, despite all the burning ...
By UrbanRenaissance (registered) | Posted September 21, 2009 at 15:07:16
Firstly, rusty, I believe you're talking about the 1973 British horror film "The Wicker Man" (or its god-awful 2006 remake staring Nicolas Cage).
Secondly, its interviews like that which completely turn me off of talk radio and any of those so called "debate" or "discussion" shows on TV. Someone needs to explain to the mainstream media that democracy is not Latin for "the loudest one wins".
By Jelly (anonymous) | Posted September 21, 2009 at 15:15:26
You think Scott Thompson is bad- this summer I heard Dave Shuttleworth over at Talk 820 suggest on his show that Bikes shouldn't even be used as a method of transportation. He said something along the lines of "we have great trails down at the Bayfront, if you want to ride a bike, ride down there." I'd love to see someone topple his load of codswallop.
By Really? (registered) | Posted September 21, 2009 at 15:25:57
16 Comments... looks like Scott Thompson, and his fear-mongering partners, have won (for now)... We're discussing/debating this interview, just like he wanted. That was his and AM900's plan all along.
I wonder if their brief, temporary rise in ratings is really worth destroying a City and it's Character?
After everything the last week, month, YEAR... can anyone truly say that they are Proud to be a Hamiltonian? I know I sure can't (not anymore). Isn't the point of local media to bring a community together, not tear them apart? Why put Cyclists vs Drivers, The Poor vs The 'Wealthy', Hamilton vs Toronto?!
I wish Media in this City acted like Media in Toronto. I can't help but watch CBC Toronto, or especially CTV Toronto with jealously, with their "This is MY Toronto" campaign, or "Save Local Media" campaigns... regular outings at festivals, etc.
Why can't Hamilton be like that!? More importantly, why aren't we like that ALREADY!?
Is there any reason why Hamiltonians 'hate' Toronto!? It's b/c we truly are jealous of their ACTUAL sense of community.
By UrbanRenaissance (registered) | Posted September 21, 2009 at 15:28:18
Really? wrote: "After everything the last week, month, YEAR... can anyone truly say that they are Proud to be a Hamiltonian?"
At least the Ti-Cats are doing well this year...
Yes that's it! The Wicker Man! Thanks! I remember watching it when I was little - very spooky. One positive note to all of this - at least Hamilton media is talking about bike lanes. It's sort of predictable that they would pan them, but at least they're on the radar (now we just have to wait 50 years to see any of them)
By nobrainer (registered) | Posted September 21, 2009 at 16:07:12
"We're discussing/debating this interview, just like he wanted. That was his and AM900's plan all along."
I've got a different take "Really?". In radio an interview happens and then floats away down the river, you can't get back to it to take a closer look, so radio hosts can afford to be fast and loose with, y'know facts and arguments.
But now that the interview has a permanent home on the Web people have a chance to take a closer more critical look. And Scott's argument style doesn't hold up under that kind of scrutiny. Believe me this doesn't help his bottom line, it makes him look like a poor interviewer and certainly doesn't pull more listeners to tune into his show. This page is already #6 result for "scott thompson" on google http://www.google.com/search?q="scot... and it's as 'sticky' as his radio show is 'slippery'.
He's on radio because the web would Eat. Him. Alive.
When I compare this to seasoned interviewers like Andy Barry it doesn't hold up too well :) I guess it's a question of whether the radio is looking at news as entertainment or news as, well, news.
By JonC (registered) | Posted September 21, 2009 at 16:14:57
So Really?, is your suggestion that this not be discussed, because that is stupid. Discuss that. Not calling shit shit gives the impression that it is an acceptable opinion. If his plan was to have us discuss/debate the interview was his plan to have people discuss/debate his initial letter. No, his initial point was to frighten car drivers into keeping the road to themselves. To have a debate, the opposing opinion needs to be expressed. In Scott's case, the opinion is bikes should get nothing. To be fair is was that cars shouldn't lose anything, which is the same as saying bikes shouldn't get anything. Unless he has a science fiction solution that involves bicycles traveling on something other than roads.
For reference, the cyclist versus driver debate is cranked up to 11 in Toronto http://www.thestar.com/article/695759 http://www.thestar.com/article/695234 http://www.thestar.com/article/698501 http://www.thestar.com/Article/697365 http://www.thestar.com/article/697368
and the save local media campaign was instituted by the stations to get government handouts and/or to have legislation changed so that they actually DON'T have to provide local coverage. The only time sensible Hamiltonians actually hate Torontonians is when the Argos are in town.
By zookeeper (registered) | Posted September 21, 2009 at 16:23:11
First of all Ryan, kudos for how you handled yourself. That must have been scary going into the lions den. You started out polite but when he kept cutting you off you came on just strong enough to get your point across. It's no wonder he kept interrupting you; you just systematically demolished his argument point by point every chance you had.
He was concern-trolling pretty hard and for the most part, you didn't take the bait, you just went back to the argument and chipped away at it. By the end he just sounded ridiculous saying over and over "I agree with everything you say" and then with this ridiculous pretense that people will somehow be ordered to stop driving.
Second of all it's a shame talk radio is all about people talking over each other. You did a good job of teasing out the convo in this transcript but the reality is that a big chunk of the time the audio clip was just CROSSTALK. You were both guilty of interrupting but the real culprit, I think is the medium itself. The nice thing about comments is that you can troll, but you can't cut someone else's comment off mid-post.
Finally I second nobrainer above, I think having you on hurt his argument, not only did you hold your own on the show but you also made a permanent record where people can critique at leisure and see his straw man attacks and stoking ignorance and fear.
By jason (registered) | Posted September 21, 2009 at 16:28:53
the problem is, most CHML listeners are just like Scott. Logic doesn't win out. Fearmongering of the unknown and reluctance to change are hallmark traits of the demographic who follow the old media in this city.
Jason! Those are our old listeners!
By Really? (registered) | Posted September 21, 2009 at 17:32:07
I agree 110% with Jason! That's the point I was trying to make; no matter how much we debate it online ('our' medium), the people who listened originally wont have this fantastic blog to read-up on.
And that again is the #1 major problem with Hamilton, this 'If it aint broke, Don't fix it attitude'.
It's sad, but it's the tune being played in City Hall by the Elders that run it; Whether it be staff or council. Hamilton wont change until those making the decisions change.
They're stuck in 1969, when we're trying to be 2009! One-way streets work b/c that's what they learned in their day. And when someone from a latter, perhaps more-urban, generation presents an idea, I'm sure it's 'considered' then carefully filed under 'G' (for Garbage).
Hamilton wont change until people of the younger generations start to run it. But how is that going to happen when progressive thinkers with the balls to work for the City are too progressive for Hamilton-thinkers and are forced to other cities? Oh ya, they start to urban plan for Kitchener-Waterloo or Toronto or Vancouver or Montreal... Just not in Hamilton.
I mean, c'mon, Ryan... what are you expecting? Some sort of 'Taj Mahal' Network of Cycling Lanes!? Psssh... ;)
By jason (registered) | Posted September 21, 2009 at 17:58:30
Rusty, I know. That's why we got booted off the air. LOL. We weren't jiving with their 'demographic' we were told. All I can say to that is "thank goodness!!"
Really? The best part about these people who selectively use the 'if it ain't broke don't fix it' line is that they are the ones screaming bloody murder about changing Hamilton and how useless our city is and what a crummy place it is yadda yadda yadda.
They speak out both sides of their mouth and the end result is always the same - NO action and NO change. Don't criticize city hall for doing nothing to fix Hamilton and then get mad at them when they start making moves to fix Hamilton. Imagine the uproar when LRT becomes more of a hot issue. The old media will be drooling all over themselves exploiting the typical Hamiltonian and their 'don't change a thing, but change everything' attitude.
By lukev (anonymous) | Posted September 21, 2009 at 18:09:00
Talk radio is a cesspool for idiocy. Not just this station, but around the world.
The way to win an argument in radio land is to drown out the opposition with meaningless interruption.
By lukev (anonymous) | Posted September 21, 2009 at 18:21:13
And if you're wondering why City Council isn't urban or progressive, it probably has something to do with the fact we have Councillors from Glanbrook deciding what can happen in Downtown Hamilton.
How can anything be achieved in these circumstances. It's like giving a Sarnia representative veto power over Hamilton issues.
By Really? (registered) | Posted September 22, 2009 at 08:07:32
I'm actually nervous about the impending LRT 'opposition', or the Mirage of an opposition created by CHCH Scream Match @ 5:30 and/or The Spec editorials. I'm nervous their greedy ways may taint the opinions of those already on board, and de-rail the plan.
I'm certain that, with Metrolinx behind the wheel, LRT will have more push behind it --especially since it's run by experts and not elected officials.
By Tammany (anonymous) | Posted September 22, 2009 at 09:20:33
"especially since it's run by experts and not elected officials."
You're kidding right?
The Metrolinx board is now stocked by pure patronage. There is not a single transit engineer to be found. Aside from Paul Bedford (former chief city planner for Toronto) no one is really qualified to advise on transit issues (and I question whether Bedford really is). The Board is basically composed of lawyers, consultants, and chief executives. Seems like a sinecure to me.
From what I've heard, reports of the in-fighting, grandstanding and parochialism of the politician members were greatly exaggerated.
By TomCooper (anonymous) | Posted September 22, 2009 at 13:18:25
I'm sensing a surprising amount of elitism (should I say snobbery) from a crowd that is generally thought of as a progressive source of informed debate in Hamilton.
If folks had taken the time to dig a little deeper or perhaps listen once in a while, they might have found that Scott Thompson has been one of the biggest 'mainline' media supporters of policies such as LRT, the Pan Am Games and generally boosting Hamilton out of its malaise. It's fun to crowd-thump somebody for being part of the 'established media', but at best it gets old really fast and at worst is simply intellectually lazy.
Like it or not, the vast majority of residents in this City still listen to local radio, watch CHCH or read the Spectator... by simply dismissing those mediums as old and tired and not worthy of the effort, progressive voices are missing out on an opportunity to engage the community on a wider scale and actually change some minds - instead of simply preaching to the church.
By z jones (registered) | Posted September 22, 2009 at 13:39:25
Is it "snobby" to call a strawman attack a strawman attack? Is it "elitist" to point out that an ignorant argument is ignorant? We're not "crowd-thumping" him for being part of the "established media", we're "crowd-thumping" him because he's talking out his his ass on bike lanes. Period.
I don't listen to talk radio and the reason why is the very low quality of debate as evidenced by this audio clip by a supposedly progressive cyclist.
Frankly I don't know what Scott has to say about LRT, I hope it's good things but I can hardly imagine he'd be willing to give up two whole lanes of road space for LRT when he can't even bear to give up a few feet for a lousy bike lane (but he's a "cyclist"), maybe he thinks we need to put our heads together and come up with some ingenuity to figure out where the LRT lanes should go (maybe suspended in the air next to the bike lanes).
Should I force myself to listen to this ignorant garbage so as not to be accused of "elitism" - ooh, those talk radio DJs and listeners are the salt-o-the-earth! - because I can feel my brain cells shutting down at all the ignorant FUD flying my way out of the radio. Sorry but I'm not going to subject myself to that kind of ignorance.
Guess what, a progressive new media guy did just try to "engage the community on a wider scale" by appearing on Scotts show and he got interrupted and cut off for the effort.
The old established media aren't ignoring progressives because we don't care about them, no it's exactly the other way around.
We stopped paying attention about them because they kept ignoring us and ignoring what's important to us and ignoring voices that speak for us, and we got tired of being ignored so when the internet came along we started up our own media that are more free and democratic. Your comment is proof of that, if you don't like what someone writes you get to debate it with them, no one's going to cut you off and if you make sense, everyone gets a chance to see it and respond to it.
Look, assuming you're the Tom Cooper who sometimes writes for the spec, I really respect and appreciate what you do. You write about things I don't get to read anywhere else in the paper, and the paper is less bad for having you in it. But the paper is still bad, and the game is still rigged against progressive thought and making policy from facts rather than what lines the pockets of the establishment.
By JonC (registered) | Posted September 22, 2009 at 14:09:43
None of the items that Tom Cooper mentioned are cycling infrastructure, which was the point of the whole original article that led to Ryan being interviewed, on the medium that Tom suggest we get involved with. So I don't see what your complaint is about, unless you've decided to take the hack approach of taking two or three users comments and taking those to be everyone's values. Good work there.
By TomCooper (anonymous) | Posted September 22, 2009 at 16:24:08
@ zjones & @JonC... I'm talking about voices such as Jason's - who from my previous visits here, I would not consider a fringe element on this site, but rather an articulate and thoughtful commentator. But even he is making wild blanket statements such as:
"the problem is, most CHML listeners are just like Scott. Logic doesn't win out. Fearmongering of the unknown and reluctance to change are hallmark traits of the demographic who follow the old media in this city."
It just seems that many contributors to this site are falling into the same exclusionary trap that you accuse those 'old media' of perpetuating. Sure there's a percentage of 'knuckle dragging', 'FOX News watching', 'Rush Limbaugh longing' types in Hamilton, but there are also a lot of others who are informed, progressive and interested in positive change in our community. If you paint them all with the same brush you are missing an opportunity to affect real change. I feel a quote from McLuhan would be apt here, but I'll refrain.
I'm just suggesting to keep an open mind, keep the dialogue flowing in a constructive way.
By z jones (registered) | Posted September 22, 2009 at 16:27:41
OK Tom, but you're barking up the wrong tree. We are definitely interested in keeping the dialogue flowing in a constructive way, the mainstream media ARE NOT.
By JonC (registered) | Posted September 22, 2009 at 18:37:13
So one person's comment is worth "I'm sensing a surprising amount of elitism (should I say snobbery) from a crowd that is generally thought of as a progressive source of informed debate in Hamilton." If you want to address one (or two or three or...) person's comments, do that.
I'm just suggesting your broad strokes are a little too broad.
There is also a problem in reaching those who obtain all their information from the radio or tv. I don't own a radio or tv station. I'm surprised that had Ryan on to provide a decent counter point at all.
By joejoe (anonymous) | Posted September 22, 2009 at 19:58:54
"There is also a problem in reaching those who obtain all their information from the radio or tv. I don't own a radio or tv station. I'm surprised that had Ryan on to provide a decent counter point at all."
Yes, kudos to CHML for asking Ryan to come on (even if it was just to stoke the imaginary conflict)
By jason (registered) | Posted September 22, 2009 at 20:24:50
Just to clarify my comment Tom Cooper, I wasn't meaning my comment about CHML listeners to be elitist, I'm merely sharing my view as someone who once had a show on CHML and along with the other 'Green Berets' were told that our show needed to be cut because we didn't fit their typical demographic. I should have made that clear in my initial comment. Cheers
By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted September 23, 2009 at 02:02:40
Kev >> Ryan was right, if you want people to do something, you need to give them an incentive.
What is the incentive for politicians to take the risk of building bike lanes at the expense of car lanes? Why would they risk their re-election just because a minority of people tell them cycling is good, when they KNOW that many more people already like to drive?
2) Volunteering to help re-election.
3) Hard evidence, like a petition with massive public support.
4) Willingness of cyclists to pay an extra "cycling" fee that would reduce the road taxes for drivers. This could be based on the premise that because bikes are much cheaper to buy and operate than cars, cyclists could afford to compensate drivers who will be injured by slower traffic.
If everyone believes that Ryan is correct in saying that people are influenced by incentives, what incentives are cyclists using to change the behaviour of Hamilton's politicians?
By JonC (registered) | Posted September 23, 2009 at 07:49:53
I'm curious as to why you would want to financially punish people for making a fiscally sound investment (via "This could be based on the premise that because bikes are much cheaper to buy and operate than cars, cyclists could afford to compensate drivers"). Sounds particularly unlike your usual harping self.
By grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted September 23, 2009 at 08:23:51
"cyclists could afford to compensate drivers who will be injured by slower traffic."
This statement does not even make sense, just how are drivers injuried by slower traffic, besides, them losing their minds. Are talking about road rage, mental stress?
By z jones (registered) | Posted September 23, 2009 at 09:10:17
Drivers should compensate cyclists for pumping out air pollution that the cyclists have to breathe even though they didn't produce it. Cyclists should also be compensated for REDUCING congestion by taking up less space on the road leaving more room for drivers to get where they're going. Especially if the city gets off it's ass and builds bike lanes so it's EASIER for cars and bikes to share the road.
By Borrelli (registered) | Posted September 23, 2009 at 09:56:39
I actually think A Smith's idea of bicycle licensing is a decent idea with a bunch of upsides, though not necessarily for the same reasons he does. This isn't an issue of compensating drivers, but if there is an actual concern about conflict between car drivers and cyclists, then there needs to be mutual understanding about the rules of the road for each set of users.
A licensing scheme that involved a nominal fee to pay for administration costs would be very fair, I think, and would make bike use on main roads a responsibility/privilige on par with driving. Ideally this would make cyclists (especially NEW ones) aware of the rules associated with responsible cycling in mixed traffic, and create a cohort of cyclists who abide by a set of standard cycling safety guidelines. As a ped, I look forward to a day when cyclists feel safe enough to use roads and assertive enough in this knowledge that they don't endanger me and others (and themselves) by using sidewalks or other cycling safety 'shortcuts' that are broadly tolerated now.
By highwater (registered) | Posted September 23, 2009 at 10:59:14
Cyclists need to 'compensate' drivers the way that women need to 'compensate' men for all the space we take up in the voting booth.
By Borrelli (registered) | Posted September 23, 2009 at 11:41:44
I really don't believe that licensing is counter-productive, all things considered. Even with relatively high administration costs, this isn't about about setting up a regulation regime, its really about creating broad legitimacy for cycling among a car-dependent and sometimes suspcicious public. Let's face it, the vast majority of road users are drivers, and if public reaction in Toronto is any indication, there is significant animosity towards cyclists (whipped up by the media or not).
A recent poll commissioned by Share the Road Cycling Coalition found that more than half of Ontarians (60%) would ride a bike more often if not for safety concerns. The survey results can be seen on the Share the Road website (sharetheroad.ca), and the organization's founder also stated that "We now know that Ontarians in the 34-49 age range are the most likely to have a bike, but also are most likely to say they rarely or never ride it. Given that many of these Ontarians have families, the likelihood that their children do not ride regularly nor are they encouraged to ride (given the fear factor) is very high."
Ryan, while I generally agree with your "if you build it, they will come" orientation towards cycling in Hamilton, there is still a significant perception problem with cycling that needs to be overcome, and it may be compounded by being transmitted to a younger generation who may have less experience or enthusiasm for cycling.
What needs to be addressed specifically is how people perceive the risks associated with biking (especially in mixed traffic). Since Hamilton (and Ontario in general) does not have a well-developed cycling culture (unlike the cities that you most frequently cite as models of progressive urban cycling planning), I think that licensing can play a public awareness role and I seriously doubt it would act as an impediment to use in our specific context--the biggest issue would be dealing with griping from established cyclists who now have to abide by the regime.
I see your point about reinforcing positive behavioural norms by simply haivng more cyclists around, but this is also a recipe for reinforcing bad habits which (true or not) many people believe are widespread. (Urban) Cycling as an activity in general needs to be further legitimized not just for cyclists, but among drivers with whom they will share the roads, and no better way to do that and establish mutual trust and respect than by casually regulating it and signalling to people that governments take cycling seriously.
By frank (registered) | Posted September 23, 2009 at 11:47:31
Here's an interesting link to an article:
By JonC (registered) | Posted September 23, 2009 at 12:29:20
The primary issue with licensing, and why it will never happen, is that kids start biking at a very young age, younger than you could expect them to pass some sort of licensing test and younger than they could engage in any sort of contract.
So, either you waive the requirement for kids and then force them to license at 18 or 16 or whatever, which is nonsense after cycling for ten years, or you waive it altogether.
The other issue is the cost. How much would the operating budget of the MTO (1.35B) http://www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/pubs/re... increase if all bikes and/or cyclists had to be licensed and how much would you charge cyclists. Even if this increased the quality of cyclists' driving, it would reduce the number of cyclists, reducing the level of safety (see above from Ryan). Additionally, this would be an unfair burden to those that bike not by choice, but due to economic hardship.
I get the idea of why it would be nice to require training, but in general, it's a bad idea.
By highwater (registered) | Posted September 23, 2009 at 12:37:49
The media is completely abdicating its responsibility here. They could be playing an important role in educating cyclists and drivers about the rules of the road. Instead they're actively endangering their readers by stoking road rage and spreading dangerous falsehoods about cyclists using sidewalks as an alternative to bike lanes.
By highwater (registered) | Posted September 23, 2009 at 12:41:03
Should have said 'readers and listeners'. Darn RTH's lack of editing capability.
By Borrelli (registered) | Posted September 23, 2009 at 13:33:16
The media (if we insist on treating them as some monolithic beast) will continue to do what they've always done, and concern themselves with selling their product. It'd be nice if they provided a public service component, but I don't think it's much use expecting that they will do it in the absence of some external requirement. That why good governance is important, in my opinion.
Ryan, since you keep referring to these "proven" facts, I'm gonna have to ask you to cite some sources I can review, because the best I can find is a British Medical Journal article from 2003 (which mentions a study of traffic interaction in Hamilton, believe it or not) indicating that while collisions between motorists and cyclists/peds decreases with larger amounts of non-motor traffic (i.e. there is safety in numbers), this is largely the result in change of motorist behavior, and it says nothing of external contextual changes that accompany increased cycling/cycling promotion.
So basically, considering the nature of the study (using time-series data in a variety of national contexts), I think it's a bit of a stretch to state simplistically that building infrastructure = more cyclists = safer cycling. There are likely to be significant effects of roadway design and other interventions. Which is to say that I think the reductionist approach to cycling promotion that you have taken is misleading, and that cycling proponents will likely have to do more than just nag municipalities to build bike lanes.
From my reading, all this article "proves" is that policies to promote cycling and walking (since every jurisdiction will promote cycling differently) result in relatively safer interactions between motorists and cyclists/peds. But as it often is, these polices come as part of a larger packages (i.e. connecting road networks + awareness + changes to law, whatever else, etc.).
So what I'm getting at is: you cannot so easily discount licensing as a potential option to increase cycling/safety. In fact, a 2000 Swedish study (cited in the BMJ study) found that perception of safety was an important determinant in INCREASING bicycle flow, which is to say, getting more cyclists out there is not just a simple issue of building infrastructure, or changing laws, etc.--also required is some cultural component that builds social trust in cycling as a safe alternative to driving, and how you affect this cultural shift will depend on local context.
By Borrelli (registered) | Posted September 23, 2009 at 13:42:02
Oh, and I guess to cap that argument, I'm saying that given the sometimes fiery relationship that cyclists have with motorists in the GTA, I believe the idea of licensing, or some other soft-regulatory approach to creating and maintaining a safe-cycling culture, might be a viable option going forward. It shouldn't be discounted offhand just because A Smith brought it up and it would be unpopular among current cyclists--in terms of cycling promotion, we're not trying to preach the choir here, breaking through to drivers is the goal and things should necessarily be tailored to this skeptical demo.
By Borrelli (registered) | Posted September 23, 2009 at 14:29:31
Yeah, sorry if this isn't appropriate for the comments, but my internal skeptic woke up when you stated there's a 'proven' way to do something. Happy to continue this offline or whatever.
And these are great sources, but none of them "proves" that infrastructure development works alone. Post-hoc analysis of NYC ridership and casualty numbers only highlights an association but says nothing of its causes or concommitant contextual changes. I'm pretty sure this audience doesn't need a correlation ≠ causation speech, so I'll refrain.
However, none of these sources answers the question: how do we get a skeptical demographic on to bikes in the first place and increase traffic flow? You assert that merely having infrastructure in place is enough, and while you're probably right that having infrastructure present will result in increases in ridership, I see no evidence that infrastructure alone has this effect universally--it appears (to me) necessary, but not sufficient.
I mean, those websites pretty well lay it out: the Dutch and Danes used road design and other policy and planning interventions to create a safer system of roadways, and the Americans have issued a lament for the bicycling culture of the 50s and 60s while the Danes use cultural intervention (hugging non-helmet wearers) to increase awareness and safety. I'm suggesting that we're a long way off from having either in Hamilton/GTA and that socio-cultural intervention may be an appropriate compliment to creating more bike lanes.
By Borrelli (registered) | Posted September 23, 2009 at 15:16:09
Also, here are the City of Toronto's issues with bicycle licensing. They're all pretty reasonable, but I think they're based firmly in the here-and-now and don't adequately prepare for a scenario where fewer people in cities own and drive cars. Right now the province relies primarily on the universality of driver's licenses to communicate the rules of the road, but if we anticipate a future where a large portion of citizens may only ever own and ride bicycles, we need to consider alternative arrangements in the absence of major changes in infrastructure (i.e. raised bike paths, etc.).
By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted September 24, 2009 at 09:33:04
Ryan, what incentives do politicians have to increase the number of bike lanes? What's in it for them?
By JonC (registered) | Posted September 24, 2009 at 10:00:40
Not to answer or Ryan's behalf, but: - decreased injuries/deaths (auto/auto, auto bike, auto/pedestrian, bike/bike & bike/pedestrian) - increased health of citizens (both cyclists and non-cyclists) - increased urban density - increased visitation to commercial districts - increased disposable income for users - decreased infrastructure maintenance costs - planning ahead for a time when automobile transit won't be as appealing (due to increased oil prices) - and it should increase transit usage
That's just a few.
Downsides I can think of are: - initial cost - reduction of on street parking - drivers readjusting their commutes (should funnel people traveling crossing the city at 70 or 80kmph to the 403, QEW, Linc and Red Hill) - possible increased travel time during peak hours
By A Troll (anonymous) | Posted September 24, 2009 at 10:17:25
I think the thing you are all missing is that the core is a transportation hub for the entire city's poor population. It's not that those people are just living downtown, is also that they can easily access downtown, on buses and bikes.
As Ryan has argued, the concentration of the poor downtown doesn't help, it only damages the city's image. It's not just about the Connaught at this point. It's the fact that having a strong transit system only increases the poor's mobility to live elsewhere and then to spend their days ghettoizing downtown.
By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted September 24, 2009 at 11:48:18
JonC, you want more bike lanes. My question to you is, what are you willing to give up to get these bike lanes?
In life, if you want something, you have to pay the price. If you want to do feel good drugs, you pay the price of sickness and disease. If you want to get rich, you have to work hard, take risks and incur lots of rejection. If you want to stay strong physically, you have to exert yourself now and again.
I genuinely wish that you get bike lanes, because I don't think it's safe for bikes to surrounded by fast moving cars, but you have to be willing pay the cost. Therefore, how much are you willing to suffer to get your bike lanes?
For example, what about starting a petition? If you could get enough names in support of building a bike network in Hamilton, you would make it very hard for the politicians to turn you down. Are you willing to go door to door getting names? If so, you will be rewarded for your hard work. If not, you will be stuck with what we have today. It's your choice.
How hard would it be for you, Ryan, Jason and a few more people to gather names of people who support better bike infrastructure here in Hamilton? If you guys put in the work, karma will send some good stuff right back to you, because you will have earned it by your efforts.
By z jones (registered) | Posted September 24, 2009 at 12:14:42
A Smith, I'm going to shock myself and up vote you for this ^^ because... well, what you're talking about is exactly what this site is about and for once you're not posting trollish "bikes are for children" type comments. I don't know if a petition is the best way to go but you're quite correct that citizens who want a policy need to organize and reach out to councilors to get there message across.
By JonC (registered) | Posted September 24, 2009 at 12:55:45
I should also point out that the city has had a number of studies prepared for them demonstrating the value of cycling infrastructure as well as the routes that provide the best mix of benefit to cyclists and minimal disturbance to automobile drivers. Anyone can access them physically at the library. More importantly, previous councils have already agreed to implement the plan, but everyone drags their asses (for example, the Aberdeen bridge lanes over the 403 was supposed to be completed this summer). Renovating that bridge will be a big boon for cycling as it provides a direct link from the student rental area south of campus to both the radial trail and gets people to the east side of the 403 without having to deal with the king or main street traffic. That's also when the mini bike lane on Aberdeen @ Longwood will start making sense, and will get expanded further east.
By z jones (registered) | Posted September 24, 2009 at 15:23:42
Aaaaaaaand back to the crazy. :(
By Jonathan Dalton (registered) | Posted September 24, 2009 at 15:31:32
We REALLY need to can this nonsense about bike licensing, and quick. We are discussing incentives for cycling here. I don't know why any cyclists would want to make their own lives more difficult and more expensive, but even those who do can't argue that licensing is a strong disincentive for anyone to start riding a bike.
By jason (registered) | Posted September 24, 2009 at 17:57:55
where's the zookeeper when you need him?
By Scott Thompson (anonymous) | Posted September 26, 2009 at 18:56:42
My my my….
Look at all this wonderful 'dialogue' that has started simply because I wrote a column in a main stream newspaper and asked the editor of this blog to appear on my main stream radio show!
And…I'm sure 'Raise the Hammer' has a few more readers as a result….
You are all very welcome!
Thanks for listening and reading!
The Scott Thompson Show
News/Talk 900 CHML
Hamilton, Ont. CAN.
By nobrainer (registered) | Posted September 28, 2009 at 08:57:40
If you made your "mission" to raise the level of debate in Hamilton instead of selling fear and controversy, you would be a real positive force for change in this city that desparately needs it. You know, you might be surprised at how many potential listeners would love to listen to a real progressive, fact based talk radio announcer instead of the usual emotional yell/counter-yell. Anyway congratulations on earning a paycheque stoking prejudice and ignorance instead of informing and empowering your audience. In the mean time another opportunity to move this city forward slips away. "Missing accomplished" indeed. :P
By sara (registered) | Posted October 05, 2009 at 00:33:16
Great Conversation! I can't explain that how much i am excited to watch this kind of brilliant interviews. I can say Scott Thompson is great straight forward guy. I really enjoy your article. Thank you much for sharing it here.
By Dan McIntyre (anonymous) | Posted November 04, 2009 at 13:40:07
City politicians who took campaign contributions from landlords, developers and other businesses in 2006.
THOSE WHO TAKE LITTLE MONEY
Ward Candidate Landlords/Dev Other Businesses
Mayor David Miller 0.0% 0.0%
1 Suzan Hall 7.8 20.6
4 Gloria Lindsay Luby 12.3 10.5
8 Anthony Perruzza 10.3 5.8
9 Maria Augimeri 13.5 11.4
14 Gord Perks 0.6 0.0
15 Howard Moscoe 6.5 13.9
18 Adam Giambrone 7.8 1.6
19 Joe Pantalone 0.0 0.0
20 Adam Vaughan 0.0 0.0
21 Joe Mihevc 0.0 0.0
22 Michael Walker 0.0 0.0
23 John Filion 6.5 7.0
25 Cliff Jenkins 0.0 0.0
27 Kyle Rae 0.0 0.0
28 Pam McConnell 0.0 0.0
30 Paula Fletcher 0.9 0.0
31 Janet Davis 0.0 0.5
32 Sandra Bussin 0.0 11.1
33 Shelly Carroll 11.1 12.0
35 Adrian Heaps 0.6 2.8
38 Glenn De Baeremaeker 10.4 8.3
40 Norm Kelly 6.2 14.7
41 Chin Lee 1.6 9.8
42 Raymond Cho 0.0 3.2
44 Ron Moeser 0.0 1.4
THOSE WHO TAKE LOTS OF MONEY
2 Rob Ford 32.5 24.2
3 Doug Holiday 24.0 28.3
5 Peter Milczyn 41.7 26.4
6 Mark Grimes 22.6 18.8
7 Giorgio Mammoliti 41.4 26.0
10 Michael Feldman 29.6 16.1
11 Frances Nunziata 39.1 32.9
12 Frank Di Giorgio 39.5 27.5
13 Bill Saundercook 17.5 31.4
16 Karen Stintz 47.0 2.0
17 Cesar Palacio 37.4 2.1
24 David Shiner 25.5 21.3
26 John Parker 25.4 17.4
29 Case Ootes 28.1 30.2
34 Denzil Minnan-Wong 32.5 30.0
36 Brian Ashton 30.4 15.6
37 Michael Thompson 20.0 28.9
39 Mike Del Grande 37.5 10.7
43 Paul Ainslie 27.3 24.0
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