Thursday, August 25, 2011

Attitude towards cycling: Quebec vs. Ontario

While not a fan of the Toronto Star, this time, Christopher Hume's piece is worth a read:
"When it comes to cycling, Quebec leaves Ontario in the dust. While we spin our wheels arguing over whether bikes belong on the streets, la belle province has turned pedal power into a transit and tourism phenomenon.

If you haven’t been to Quebec in a while, prepare to share the roads — and even more amazingly, the highways — with the two-wheeled. Everywhere you turn now, bicycles are part of the traffic mix. In addition to separated lanes in Montreal, highways are marked and divided into bike lanes and vehicular lanes. Even routes that aren’t marked have signs that make it clear the two — bikes and cars — must share the road.

In Toronto, by contrast, bikes have become a cause for panic, a wedge issue exploited by elected leaders for their own benefit. It is a topic on which municipal elections can be won or lost, at least in part. That’s not entirely new, of course, but it is another indication of how the politics of Ontario — and Toronto — are becoming sclerotic. So frightened are we of change that we buy into the promise that the province’s glorious yesterday will never end.

It already has."
You can read the rest here.

Things are not as nice a portrayed in this piece, there is an awful lot that needs to be done. Especially, some backlash recently appeared and people have started mildly agitating against cyclists. However, that noise is still being drowned under the great brouhaha generated by all the Bixis coming down Berri.
Yet, it is true that Quebec's cycling atmosphere is slightly ahead of Ontario's, where some cyclists find it normal to write open letters to insult fellow cyclists instead of focusing that energy on infrastructure improvements.
Personally, I think it has to do with the issue of Anglo-Saxon mentality vs. French-Canadian. Quebec's mentality is closer to Europe (continental) than many realise, especially in Montréal.
Mikael Colville-Andersen said it: this city has the potential, all we need is the political will (i.e. balls) to make that happen.

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