Another jarring sideswipe to Canada’s self esteem. A World Health Organization report says we aren’t doing enough for pedestrians and cyclists. This is bad news because transportation issues are interweaved with suburban poverty. Easier conditions for walkers and cyclists reflect better designed, pro-social communities but they require well thought out, properly funded infrastructure projects. Walking and cycling is cheap, good for people and contributes to sustainability. A culture of non-motorized transportation doesn’t just stem from accidents of geography like flat land in Holland or warm weather in California, though undoubtedbly these things don’t hurt the cause. Social vision and political will are just as important.
Curiously, we came across a consideration of the report in the section of the Toronto Star that normally concerns itself with automobiles (reviews of new models, road congestion issues and so forth). This is a major section of the weekend edition of the country’s biggest newspaper in terms of readership eyes and advertising revenue and is a double section on Saturday. This weekend, for example, the Wheels section contained a worthless review of a Lambourghini sports car – a psychotic artefact few of us will ever see let alone drive or purchase – yet was unable to completely ignore the WHO report. Maybe this is a sign important messages about liveability, safety and alternatives to the car are sinking in around the Greater Toronto Area?
image: Diplodicus by Heinrich Harber, 1916 via Wikimedia Commons