As cyclists here in London await the decision on who has won the 2012 London Mayoral Election today it is worth bearing in mind what can happen to a cycling friendly city when an anti-cycling Mayor gets in charge.
Cycling issues have been very much central to the Mayoral debates in London with a demand for more Dutch style cycling infrastructure from lobbying group’s such as the London Cycling Campaign and Londoners on Bikes. Each of the main candidates have committed to the London Cycling Campaign’s Go Dutch demands but what happens when a city’s citizens votes in a Mayor who is anti-cycling.
Toronto did just that in 2010 by voting in Rob Ford as the new Mayor. Mayor Ford promised to halt what he described as a “war on the car” when he was elected in. At the time of his election, he stated bike lanes were taking away space for cars.
When still a Toronto city council member, Mr Ford said: “Every year we have dozens of people that get hit by cars or trucks. Well no wonder, roads are built for buses, cars, and trucks, not for people on bikes. My heart bleeds for them when I hear someone gets killed, but it’s their own fault at the end of the day.”
Since the 2010 election, Mr Ford has pushed through a policy of building no more bike lanes, while he’s overseen the city council’s decision to vote to remove three bike lanes.
Mr Ford has been likened Boris Johnson for being larger than life but also being gaffe prone. He’s been in the news lately for demanding that Toronto’s newspaper The Toronto Star remove its reporter Daniel Dale from reporting on the Council matters after he was involved in a confrontation with Mr Dale near the mayor’s home.