By Ben Bull
Published February 25, 2010
The first wedge issue of the Toronto municipal Mayoral campaign has been introduced, and it is - bike lanes!
"Rocco Rossi was virtually unknown to most voters two months ago when he entered the race to become Toronto's next mayor," writes the Star's Bob Hepburn.
Now, seemingly overnight, Rossi has emerged along with George Smitherman as one of the two leading candidates to replace David Miller, gaining increasing coverage by the media and growing awareness by voters.
He's achieved this feat by shrewdly riding the wave of anger expressed by many motorists over city hall's plans to install more and more bike lanes on major city streets, most notably Jarvis St.
With an eye to raising his profile, the former federal Liberal party fundraiser is marketing himself as the champion for all those voters, especially those living outside the downtown core, who oppose bike lanes on the grounds they slow traffic and add to rush-hour gridlock.
How convenient. As I recall, Rocco Rossi was not particularly vocal during the Jarvis Street Bike Lanes debates of last year. And yet here he is, just months later, claiming to be the drivers' champion.
We shouldn't be surprised. The subject of walk- and bike-ability has been well and truly hijacked by the media.
Instead of, as [Michelle Martin recently put it](/article/1023/#comment-38444), discussing how we can move people around more safely in our various transportation modes, we are instead pitting the wants of drivers against cyclists and pedestrians.
Without wishing to reiterate it - our needs are all the same! This should not be a wedge issue. It should be a civil discussion about what kind of city we want.
Do we want downtown expressways like Hamilton, or a balanced transportation infrastructure?
Somehow I doubt the shallow, media-hyped Mayoral campaign is going to help us decide.
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