Mayors Gregor Robertson ( Vancouver, BC) and Joe Fontana (London, ON) call on the Canadian government to support improving rental conditions in Canada’s large cities in its upcoming federal budget. Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has spent the first years of his mandate stripping the city’s supports for low-income families and selling off city-owned affordable rental units, making the nation’s largest city even more hostile to renters.
Montréal, QC: Luc Ferrandez, mayor of Montréal’s Plateau-Mont-Royal borough, discusses street-level changes in his community designed to slow down and redirect suburban commuters cutting through the neighbourhood. Road space has been taken back from vehicle traffic, in exchange for widened boulevards, gardens, markets and pedestrian spaces, putting the needs of people above the wants of commuters. Toronto’s Mayor Rob Ford blasts any such proposal in Canada’s largest city, labelling any idea to return precious urban space to the people as “the war on cars” and proposing to spend billions of dollars extra on infrastructure projects, just to prevent the loss of vehicle lanes.
Miami, FL: Miami hires expert consultants from the Dutch capital to improve cycling infrastructure to the city built for cars, and to better cycling education. Rob Ford fired a world-renowned transit expert when he dared disagree with the Toronto Mayor’s ill-advised billion-dollar suburban subway boondoggle.
New York, NY: Mayor Michael Bloomberg launches the young adult literacy program, the first in a series of programs aimed at supporting disadvantaged youth in gaining the skills for a better life. Facing the same budget pressures, Toronto’s city council is instead considering closing libraries and ending support programs, backed by Mayor Rob Ford’s belief that cities should only pay for roads and police.
Minneapolis, MN: the recent winner of Bicycling Magazine’s award for most bicyle friendly city in America shows off its famous Midtown Greenway, a dedicated bicycle route attracting new development and business in the city centre. In Toronto, Mayor Rob Ford’s bike plan calls for removing bike lanes from many city streets, because as he says, “roads are for cars and trucks.”
Guangzhou, China: the city’s 22.5km bus rapid transit service, which opened just last year, has already improved travel times by more than 20% for transit users and drivers alike, carrying almost one million passengers daily. Toronto Mayor Rob Ford turned down funding from senior governments and has shut down several new large-scale transit projects in the city, and slashed the local transit authority’s operating budget, making it harder and more expensive than ever for residents to move around the large city.
Bangalore, India: Every month, the growing, congested Asian city offers a day of free rides on the city’s bus system to commuters, aiming to raise awareness of transit options ahead of subway and rapid transit projects under construction. Toronto Mayor Rob Ford wants to raise transit fares to cover eliminating the city’s vehicle registration fees, forcing more residents into cars on the city’s already gridlocked streets.
Chicago, IL: Mayor Rahm Emanuel wants to make the city the most bike-friendly city in North America, outdoing previous cycling mayors by installing more than 150km of separated cycle lanes and a bike sharing program starting with 3,000 bikes. Toronto’s mayor has started calling for cyclists to be licensed, even though he thinks bicycles shouldn’t be allowed on roads.
Detroit, MI: in response to sharply increasing use of bicycles by commuters, America’s Motor City plans to add to its network of almost 60km of on-street bicycle lanes. Despite sharply increasing demand in Toronto, Mayor Rob Ford will delete 7km of existing bicycle lanes this year, and vows to never install new lanes in the city.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: New Clean Cities Initiative program begins testing new electric and clean hybrid buses in mixed traffic and Bus Rapid Transit applications, aiming to develop a market for the environmentally-friendly vehicles in other Latin American cities & help reduce the significant greenhouse gas emissions from transportation. In Toronto, mayor Rob Ford wants to rid the city of electric streetcars and hybrid buses, and replace them with hundreds of dirty diesel vehicles.
New York, NY: Mayor Michael Bloomberg announces a new round of grants to several New York City businesses, enabling them to train workers, pay higher wages and expand to larger facilities. Toronto’s mayor Rob Ford has slammed thousands of Toronto’s downtown small businesses, saying there is not enough shopping in the core, and planning to bring a suburban mall with low quality McJobs to the city centre.
“I’m thrilled if I could shine a light on some of the work of these community volunteers.”—Calgary, AB: Mayor Naheed Nenshi becomes the first Mayor of Calgary to act as grand marshal of the city’s annual Pride Parade, attracting a record number of participants and parade-goers. Toronto’s mayor Rob Ford went out of his way to avoid the city’s week-long Pride celebrations, expected to attract more than a million participants, and even left the city for the weekend Pride Parade. Ford and his allies have called for funding for Toronto’s Pride Week to be stopped.
Curitiba, Brazil: Former mayors and transportation experts discuss the city’s pioneering BRT system, which includes fare prepayment and dedicated, grade-separated bus lanes, and operates at the capacity typical of subway lines for a fraction of the cost. In Toronto, Mayor Rob Ford cancelled the city’s rapid transit plan, vowing to eliminate streetcars and promising no new surface transit ever again, focusing instead on one prohibitively expensive subway line.
Stockholm, Sweden's congestion pricing is based on congestion pricing in London, UK: the city aims to reduce the number of cars in its downtown core. Congestion pricing has reduced the Swedish city's traffic by 18% and public transit use is up 5% since the new tolls were implemented. Toronto's mayor Rob Ford acknowledges the horrific congestion in the city, but his solution is to eliminate all taxes on vehicle use and pay for the lost revenue by raising transit fares, putting pressure on commuters to continue (or start!) driving.
Los Angeles, CA: following many complaints of drivers harassing cyclists with insults and throwing objects from their cars, and following the death of an elderly cyclist run off the road by a car, Los Angeles City Council passes tough new laws to allow cyclists to sue drivers for harassment without criminal charges being laid. Toronto’s Mayor Rob Ford should warn his councillor brother Doug to stay away from the American city - he’s become infamous for his claims of running over cyclists on his way to work, and offering to give bicycle-riding councillors a ride on his SUV’s front bumper.
“Hold on to your hats, folks, we’re actually removing a lane for a car — in favor of a bike lane — in Los Angeles.”—Los Angeles, CA: councillor Ed Reyes speaks to a news conference unveiling the city’s newest 3.5km bike lane in the city’s core. The famously congested city plans to install 320km of bike lanes on its roads every year for the next five years, encouraging more residents to leave their cars at home. In Toronto, a city with even worse congestion, Mayor Rob Ford’s bike plan calls for only 70km of exclusively off-road non-dedicated trails to be constructed in the next four years, and only if money becomes available.
Miami, FL: by investing in arts and culture over the last decade, Miami’s leaders attracted a new wave of business investment and growth. Toronto’s mayor is on a crusade to defund arts programs and clean up street art, saying graffiti should be reported by calling 911.
Los Angeles, CA: parking guru Donald Shoup discusses the new demand-based pricing structure for the downtown core of the city most famous for its traffic congestion, comparing with other cities in California. The city-run program adjusts parking rates on each block to maximize both utilization and city revenues. In Toronto, a city with worse traffic than any other on the continent, Mayor Rob Ford wants to sell off the city’s public parking control to make a quick buck.
Havana, Cuba: Urban agriculture programs contribute more than half of all fresh food consumed by residents. Unused and derelict urban space is secured by a government department and provided for free to urban gardeners. In Toronto, Mayor Rob Ford wants to increase the city’s taxes on local farmers’ markets, undoing the work of many community groups to bring quality local produce to the city.
“Property taxes were designed to take care of property, not humans.”—Mississauga, ON: Mayor Hazel McCallion criticizes provincial Conservative leader Tim Hudak for refusing to honour an agreement to restore provincial funding for social programs. Responsibility for these programs was downloaded to cash-strapped cities under Hudak’s predecessor, Premier Mike Harris. Toronto’s Conservative Mayor Rob Ford sees social good as wasteful spending and wants to end the programs completely.
Berlin, Germany: 50 years ago, the infamous Berlin Wall was built to separate West Berlin from the Soviet east. Today, the wall’s 160km death strip has been redeveloped into an interpretive cycling trail. Mayor Rob Ford didn’t notice that the wall fell 22 years ago, as his right-hand man is still raving about keeping Communists out of Toronto.
London, UK: Expansion plans are announced on the one-year anniversary of the launch of the city’s cycle hire program, part of Mayor Boris Johnson’s “cycling revolution”, giving people options in the busy city centre and getting people talking about cycling. Thanks to Rob Ford’s Bike Plan, Toronto will be one of the only cities in the world to remove some of its bike lanes this year.
“"You’ve got to attract people. That’s what they want."”—London, ON: Following success of the city’s Car Free Festival, Mayor Joe Fontana considers closing a portion of a downtown street to car traffic permanently, creating a pedestrian mall like in many other North American cities. Toronto’s Mayor Rob Ford whines about the impact on poor car drivers every time a portion of any street is closed for one of the city’s many high-profile street festivals.
Sydney, Australia: Lord Mayor Clover Moore speaks to New York’s Large Cities Climate Summit in 2007, in support of congestion taxes for downtown vehicles. Large cities like London, UK and Stockholm, Sweden have seen traffic volume drop dramatically after implementing the charge, replaced by transit, cycling and walking. Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s first act in office was to repeal the city’s vehicle registration fees and refund the revenue collected, emptying the city’s surplus and adding to a CAD$774 million deficit.
Portland, OR: Mayor Sam Adams speaks at the opening of the country’s first public charging stations for electric vehicles, allowing owners to charge while only paying for parking. In Toronto, Mayor Ford wants to replace all of the city’s electric streetcars and hybrid buses with hundreds of conventional diesel vehicles.
Chicago, IL: Mayor Rahm Emanuel introduces new zoning regulations to support urban farming, ensuring citizens have access to high quality local produce. Last month, Toronto eliminated the city’s local food policy.
Chicago, IL: Urban planners used input from residents to produce the first Chicago Pedestrian Plan, aiming to eliminate pedestrian-auto collisions within 10 years, and serve as a tool for improving local neighbourhoods. This year, Toronto’s city council has cancelled construction of a key pedestrian bridge and defunded environmental assessments that would lead to more pedestrian-friendly streets.
Salt Lake City, UT: Mayor Ralph Becker and other Utah municipal politicians hosted federal cabinet secretaries looking for inspiration for new national policies on health and nutrition. Nobody is going to visit Toronto to watch Mayor Ford dismantle the world’s greatest public library system.
“You start with tossing off latte drinkers, gay pride and bicycle riders and me, what’s the message? The message is: ‘We don’t want you people here.’ I’m sure Hamilton or Burlington or Oshawa would be very happy if some of those festivals and conventions moved there.”—Margaret Atwood responds to Toronto Councillor Doug Ford’s derogatory comments on arts funding. Hamilton Mayor Bob Bratina invited the literary icon to the opening of the city’s newly renovated central library. http://www.thestar.com/news/article/1036404—scorn-in-toronto-acclaim-in-hamilton
Cities around the world are successfully reducing their congestion from private vehicles by slowly but steadily eliminating city parking spaces. By next year, Toronto will remove bicycle lanes on major thoroughfares and replace them with additional on-street vehicle parking.
Murcia, Spain: City offers residents a lifetime pass on their public transit system for trading in their private vehicles. Mayor Ford wants to get rid of streetcars and bury transit below the street, so that no car drivers are encouraged to change their habits.
Winnipeg, Manitoba: The capital of Manitoba boasts about its active transportation infrastructure, citing benefits to businesses which encourage customers to shop by bike and on foot. Meanwhile, Toronto is implementing plans that will make residents more reliant than ever on automobiles.