Friday, October 1, 2010

Battle of the titans

I think we have a bit of a generational clash brewing in the city. Today's younger generation, more so than their parents, have had the benefit and experience of travel abroad and want their city to be like other cities in other countries. The older generations have the life experience that make them cautious of spending and debt load and fads that come and go. They have also indulged their children and are, to some degree, reticent to curtail that indulgence.

In today's SP (Oct. 1/10) the cycling guru, Gil Penalosa, panned the city. His accomplishment of turning Bogota to a haven for cyclists and pedestrians is laudable. However, I don't believe Bogota dips much below 15 degrees Celsius or has ever needed snow clearing. And he has not met with that same success in his new home city of Toronto.

His recommendation of car-free Sundays from May through September from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m probably won't be favoured with the churches along Spadina Crescent, or elsewhere in the city, if the ban is city wide. However, the younger generation is not packing the pews in the various religious sanctuaries. On the bright side it may get them out of bed before noon. How about a car-free ban on Friday and Saturday nights from 6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.? Bike or bus to the bar say I. Better yet, walking home in the mid of winter might help sober some of them up.

It seems to be that much of the conflict is around bicycles and cars. Pedestrians already have passages and crossings and their biggest beef is with cyclists, many of which are disrespectful of pedestrians. I'm not anti-cycling and understand the desire for bike lanes. I just don't get the my-way or the highway attitude.

The younger generation seems to favour high density multiple dwellings, particular for the core areas. That seems to be a good idea until they become established in their careers and have families. Then they want their own little house on the prairies. It isn't the older generation that is willing to pay a $100,000.00 plus for a lot in Evergreen to build their dream house on with perks thrown in from the city compliments of the taxpayer.

Who I feel sorry for are the seniors who can neither walk distance, bike, carry groceries or parcels and may be driven out of the residences they have dominated in the downtown. They may need to be re-located to the Market Mall seniors ghetto.

I suspect Saskatoon Speaks may become Saskatoon Shouts. If council really wants public feedback, run a referendum. Not many of the older generations are heading out to the forums but will go to the polls. And it will certainly encourage young voters to get and vote.


  1. To clarify,

    Mr. Penalosa did a good job of showing examples of good pedestrian and cycling infrastructure from cities with climates very similar to Saskatoon as well. His main theme was the need to separate pedestrians from cyclists and cyclists from motorists, while also providing accessible and reliable transit. A secondary theme was designing and building your city around people and not cars.

    Also, the car free suggestion wasn't for the entire city, it was for a section/sections of road, very similar to what is done with Broadway Ave on occassion - unfortunately, that context was lost in the SP today.

  2. I've been following this subject for a while and it might just come down to riding a bike everywhere as the police are starting to clamp down on alcohol related incidences. Although I would warn the Mistress that under the highways traffic act a bicycle is considered a vehicle and one that police can charge someone with being under the influence.

    I ride a bike in this city and I abide by the laws of the road. I have never had a problem with vehicles nor them with me. We don't need new separated roadways all we need is enforcement. Lets start charging bicyclists with hefty fines for inadequate signals, riding against traffic and other poor habits that were acceptable when we had 100,000 people but now are dangerous in a city approaching 1/4 million.

    And when bicyclists start paying as much to register their vehicles as people who drive cars then they can start having their own roadways.

  3. While this is an interesting post, Council's track record hardly suggest that Atch and his merry band of old-time spenders at City Hall give any credence to this statement:

    "The older generations have the life experience that make them cautious of spending and debt load and fads that come and go."

  4. Anon 11:00 a.m. - Are you suggesting that Atch is an old-timer? I would have classified him as a middle-ager. How about Paulsen, Hill and Clark? I'd give Penner old-timer status. Or are you simply implying they are old style politicians?

  5. "And when bicyclists start paying as much to register their vehicles as people who drive cars then they can start having their own roadways."

    And when motorists start paying a weighted share of the billions of dollars required in municipal taxes for new roadways, along with the untold billions in environmental and health cost externalities realized by their choice of transportation, they can proclaim their "ownership" of roads and all the subsequent costs associated with driving.

    Slippery slope, isn't it...

  6. Vehicle registration has nothing to do with the tax dollars spent on roads, thanks for pointing that out Anon 1108am.

    Road Warrior,

    I also cycle everyday, obey the rules, etc... but just because I or you feel safe doesn't mean everyone else should, which is evident from our 2.6% ridership. There are cities with similar climates to Saskatoon that have 20-40% ridership. I bet you can't guess what the differences in infrastructure are between us and them?

    One of the more interesting stats Penalosa shared last night was a breakdown the types of cyclists -
    1% would bike anywhere anytime regardless of good infrastructure or not
    33% would never bike no matter what you do
    6% would cycle if there was a good system of painted lanes, etc..
    The rest would like to cycle or would be open to doing so but only if there are physically separated lanes that keep pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists apart.

    The question we should be asking and answering is how many cyclists do we want in Saskatoon?

  7. Just to keep the field level, gas tax does pay for roadway infrastructure. The cities have been lobbying to get more of it from the province for years.

    I'm not opposed to improving and implementing more passageways for bicycles. It is limiting roadways or areas for bikes and peds only that concerns me.

  8. "Who I feel sorry for are the seniors who can neither walk distance, bike, carry groceries or parcels and may be driven out of the residences they have dominated in the downtown."

    That's rich:

  9. My comments on that blog related to an under utilized grocery store. It was use it or lose it and I stand by those comments. It certainly doesn't pertain to mobility of residents in downtown or any area.

  10. Wow Sean,

    You spew stats like a lottery machine. How can anyone take any of those numbers seriously. You say there are cities of similar climates?? I hope they also have similar demographics and similar tax base and systems with similar economies. That is doubtful. You can compare other cities with Saskatoon but it would be like comparing apples to kumquats. Seems like the same arguments you make when talking recycling. Just find a poll that suits your needs and ride it like a stallion:-) Much of the reason Saskatoon people drive is to enjoy a better quality of living with their families. I love the fact I can get in my car and drive 5 min to home on those days I need to be elsewhere in a small amount of time. And how about trying to log your or your child's hockey equipment on a bike in -40.

    Your question re the debate on "how many cyclists do we want in Saskatoon?" implies there is an optimum number?? do I say 10%, 20%, 30% get real. would you be satisfied with 1 more than there was yesterday??

    I read in the StarP today where one of their SaskatoonSpeaks bloggers stated "as a cyclist" he wants separate pathways for bikes and pedestrians because and get this "The Joggers" are wearing earplugs and don't move out of the way because they can't hear the bikes. Far be it from me to refute this, however as a JOGGER, I have only Heard 1 or 2 bikes that I have every encountered because very few even have a horn or know how to use it.

    I think this whole issue is based all around the fact cyclists feel like second class citizens. They aren't wanted on the sidewalks (see city bylaws) and they feel they are in peril on the roadways. I do feel sorry for them but then again not so much I want my car subject to a street ban any time soon.

  11. I just read some of the article on Penalosa and find it amusing:
    He almost hit a van while checking his emails!!!! doesn't he know we have laws against using a cell phone while operating a vehicle on the city streets? What's next for him operating his bike while surfing the web on his IPAD. But he blames the vehicle that dare to stop in the bike lane. This guy is a joke. Then he goes on to say "no one would send their 8 yr old or 80 yr old cycling in this city". Ya the last time I told my 80 yr old mom what to do I was 10 and got a mouth full of soap. Or is he saying everyone who has an 8 yr old should drive them everywhere?? Talk about sending mixed messages.

  12. Stand by those comments Civic Mistress, as you will, but they are indicative of your selectivity in playing the "will somebody think of the seniors" card: Your sympathy exists only if it supports the hypothesis of the day. Today's being that bike lanes will force seniors into the "Market Mall ghetto."

    Good luck getting that argument out the door.

  13. I would give Penalosa more credence if he came to do his talk in the middle of January than during the warm months. He's no different than most urban gurus that trot into town like to spout off their knowledge of the world without having very much knowledge of this particular community.

  14. Did any of you go to the talk? If not, then your comments make more sense. You just write him off 'cause he comes from a warmer climate, but if you would have been there, you would have seen him address some of your concerns.

    It's really unfortunate there is such an aversion for educated discussion in this city sometimes. If you are so confident in your opinion, you should attend one of these events and actually listen, then debate the person presenting.....instead of just posting half-informed rants on the internet.

  15. and Road seem so intent on hiding behind your random opinions instead of addressing facts or stats. That really take away from any attempt at credibility you may have. If you have opposing stats and facts, post them.....saying stats and facts can't be believed is pretty hilarious and doesn't win a debate.

  16. Road Warrior, your rants are ignorant of research and facts.

    Barring demagogic pandering at City Hall, opinions need facts to carry them. So instead of using ALL CAPS to make a point, you would be better served by using research - perhaps peer-reviewed, if you know what that means. This would move your huffing and puffing from the realm of opinion to the realm of fact.

    At the very least, you could do better than "I just read some of the article on Penalosa."

    What we do know from recent, fact-based discussions is that properly rethinking civic planning around sustainable transportation would have a postive effect on traffic congestion, and reduce the overall costs of building and maintaining road networks.

    Such policies would allow a die-hard driver like yourself to continue virtually unabated on the road and keep your taxes down.

    Further, your proclamation that all we need is enforcement to solve biking problems is asinine on its face. There is no shortage of research - including research done for law enforcement agencies like the RCMP - that proves incremental expenditure increases in law-related areas are better spent on public education about laws: it is far more efficiently delivered and has better overall societal and economic results than dumping money into draconian enforcement.

    Please don't advocate for the waste of public dollars through carrot-chasing law enforcement schemes.

    Your ignorance only causes you to argue against your own self-interest.

  17. All you cyclist nuts that keep citing the comparable climate cities where cycle riding has been successfully implemented, what cities are you referring to? I'd like to do some research on them, and to be honest saying 'Penalosa cited similar climates where this worked' isn't providing a lot of support for your argument

  18. Anon 5:29 You chastise me for saying enforcement could be an answer and that you believe education should be the resolve. Well maybe you should talk to all the police departments City and RCMP that are clamping down by using enforcement. And continually focus on enforcement. I guess all those road stops and speed traps are just so the police can come to your car and educate you about your speed or lack of a good vehicle.

    As for research in this area I stand by my comments that research can be manipulated if you know what you are doing so I would rather go by experience and my experience tells me that our city can't design roadways for cars adding another problem such as dedicated bike lanes is just asking for problems.

    Maybe once the city planners get their training wheels off and start design better roadways FOR CARS!! (Yes caps) they can move on to more sophisticated things like the two wheeler. But I won't hold my breath for that to happen any time soon.

  19. Anonymous 1:34, one great example is Minneapolis, they have a very similar climate to Saskatoon and they were recently named the best city in America to bicycle in.

  20. Anon 7:23 are you delusional or is Penalosa or are his blind followers?

    If Minneapolis is the first cited city, or one of the cited cities, then this guy is really out to lunch. Have you bothered to look at the climates? Populations? Local Governance?

    Let's start with climate, the average Jan temp in Mnneapolis is -10 degree Celsius. If we are dealing with a -10 degree locale, then yes cycling year round becomes a practical option for many people. May I remind you of Saskatoon's Jan average temp?

    So anon 7:23, are you actually serious when you say "one great example is Minneapolis, they have a very similar climate to Saskatoon"? Because I would doing cart wheels if we had a Jan average temp of -10, in fact if we do I'd be glad to start supporting more biking initiatives.

  21. the average Jan temp in Sasktoon is around -18C, it's -10C in Minnesota.

  22. Saskatoon's average high in January is is -13. Maybe you should have looked that up before posting. ;)

    but that is besides the point....I wouldn't say that we should design as if the city was a tropical, warm place where everyone cycles all the time. Just like I wouldn't say we should design only for January and February. That would be like saying we shouldn't build outdoor hockey rinks, 'cause they are useless for 6 or 7 months of the year and January is cold, so no one goes outside (people do...we are winter nation that loves winter sports). I don't think that would go over well and it would be dumb.

    Including some options for cycling is a really good thing for the can be done without constricting traffic flows in many places AND if more people are walking/biking/taking transit, then there is more room for people on the road. Just saying penalosa is out of touch, 'cause a few months of the year are really cold is a pretty week argument. Some people still bike through those months (and even Penalosa said they are kind of crazy!), but the infrastructure would get well used for the majority of the year (April to October is pretty easy to ride in almost every year) by many people and still used throughout the rest of the year and it would reduce congestion and frustration for drivers like some of the people here who seem to have an irrational hate on for cyclists.

    The whole debate is about providing room for all modes of transportation in the most appropriate way for Saskatoon.........and I think saying the cycling isn't something that we should accommodate is a a bit foolish. I own a car and pay my share of taxes and I won't be giving up my car soon.....but I'd like some of my taxes to be spent on cycling infrastructure. Currently our city is lacking in reasonable cycling infrastructure. That should be fixed.

  23. average Saskatoon temp of -13 that I sighted -

  24. When does the residents of Nutana gain consideration in this debate? I live in the area and I am an avid cyclist, jogger, etc.. I also own a car.

    Do people outside of the area realize the problems that are being cause in accessing the downtown (and even north end of the city) by the closing of the Nutana bridge.

    Do cyclists have no concern for anyone but their own agenda? Every time I talk to a cyclist about the congestion being caused by the bridge closure I am met with contempt. If you aren't on board with a cyclist/pedestrian bridge then you are evil.

    Secondly, has anyone read the reports about the Broadway and University bridges? Do the cyclists not care at all about those factors. Both bridges have an anticipated lifespan of 20 years before major restoration or replacement will be inevitable. Imagine the traffic nightmare if the Victoria bridge is converted to cyclists-pedestrians only and the Broadway bridge is forced to be closed for a significant portion of time for repairs or to rebuilt.

    All those who are saying 'plan for the future' please explain how Mr. Penalosa or your little cyclist buddies plan to deal with traffic accommodation in the very near future when one or both of the Broadway and University bridges will be shut down for a significant period of time.

    Eliminating a bridge is not the solution here.

    And for those above, I've been to Minneapolis several times on business in the winter and it is not a comparable climate to Saskatoon. Despite what the numbers say. Furthermore, the reliability of the Metro transit there is second to none (ie. you are not waiting for half an hour in the dead of winter on a late Light Rail train).

  25. Once again Anon 9:33 you provide misleading stats. AS per your source:

    The average winter low in Saskatoon is -24, Minneapolis -14. Average winter high Saskatoon -13, Minneapolis -6.

    There is a clear distinction, for the record the average Minneapolis temperatures are very similar to Ottawa. I doubt anyone in Saskatoon would claim weather here to be similar to Toronto.

    Funny what you can do when presenting misleading stats.



  26. Anon 934am

    most cyclists are also motorist and pedestrians. Your arguments would be better served if you kept them civil.

    There isn't some grand conspiracy out to get motorists, There are cyclists and pedestrians asking for some accomodation in a car-centric city.

  27. "There isn't some grand conspiracy out to get motorists, There are cyclists and pedestrians asking for some accomodation in a car-centric city"

    Some accommodation or demanding that a previously traffic heavy bridge now be converted to pedestrian-cyclist only?

    And Anon 11:41 I would hardly call the crowd that is pushing the cyclists agenda as being accommodating to motor vehicle demands right now.


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