I’ve long since abandoned watching CTV news. They’re victim-blaming, anti-street safety trolls, regularly touting the value of hi-viz clothing and helmets. They would regularly run polls designed stoke anti-bicycle riding animus.
And they’re at it again.
Last week, they decided to run a oh-my-god-the-city-is-plowing-a-bike-lane-how-dare-they story. The framing was that “bike lanes are cleared before sidewalks” (by the way, nice picture of a bike box covered in snow). And here’s what CTV came up with: the city considers the bike lanes part of the road so they do them first.
…but that’s not really what’s going on, and if CTV preferred to rely on journalism than “people” saying things on Twitter, they’d know that this isn’t actually correct.
The picture was of the O’Connor Bike Lane and, yes, it appeared cleared before the sidewalk along O’Connor. If that was the only bike lane downtown, then maybe (maybe) CTV would have a story, but it’s not, and most of downtown has been ignored all winter.
There is a bike lane on Lyon that has maybe been partially cleared once this year.
There are bike lanes on Percy that has been cleared sporadically and incompletely in some spots, and hasn’t been cleared at all in other spots.
I don’t even try to use the Bay Street lane, but I’ve heard it’s been neglected, too.
Every street downtown gets plowed after every snowfall. Every sidewalk gets plowed (poorly and far from promptly). If you’re going to run a story on the plowing of bike lanes, it’d be good to check and see if most of the bike lanes even ever get plowed.
Or if you want to just rely on Twitter (which seemed to be the extent of their investigation), it is not at all hard to find example after example after example after example after example of the neglect or blocking of the few bike lanes that actually ever get plowed.
Look, there is never going to be even distribution of snow clearing, and when you plow two bike lanes but every sidewalk, some sidewalks will be done after bike lanes. Further, sometimes it’s going to continue snowing after a sidewalk is plowed, so it will look a bike lane is getting special treatment.
Of course, it’s undeniable that the city is failing its service level promises. Bike lanes and sidewalks come secondary (if at all) to roads. On Sunday night, I shoveled out the sidewalk from my building to Bank Street. There’s a 94-year-old woman who lives above me. She doesn’t get to leave her home if the sidewalk isn’t cleared.
Sometime Sunday night or Monday morning, a plow came by…a street plow, but it wasn’t there to clear the road (which had already been done), it was pushing the snow further to the side to make room, it would seem, for parking spaces (there was no other reason to clear that far). In doing so, all the hard, heavy chunky snow was pushed into the sidewalk, making it impassable for anyone with a mobility issue, and pretty much impossible to shovel out.
A day and a half later, the sidewalk plow came along, clearing a path, but not really plowing. I don’t know if my neighbour is able to leave her apartment. (My street is supposed to be cleared within six hours, according to city standards.)
There is a problem with clearing sidewalks and making the city manoeuvrable for pedestrians, but it is not caused by clearing two bike lanes every now and then. It is caused by our car-centric planning. People who are against safety improvements for bicyclists have a tendency to pit bikes against pedestrians (this is what happened for the Rideau Street re-development…we could have appropriate sidewalks or safe biking infrastructure, but not both because we had to maintain pre-existing car lanes).
We need to understand that pedestrian and bicycling safety often go together…that these two groups are not adversaries, no matter how much driving advocates and the media try to say otherwise.
(Note a month or so ago CBC ran a story about people being forced to walk in the O’Connor bike lane because the city was neglecting the sidewalk…again, it was framed in a pedestrian vs. bicyclist manner, while cars sped along unimpeded.)
When people noticed the horrible reporting by CTV, there was a Twitter convo pointing out that TV companies still seem to rely on car ads. Maybe this colours their vision, maybe not, but it’s really hard to ignore the extreme bias from a company like CTV.
Remember how I mentioned their inclination to run troll polls to gin up some resentment against bicyclists? Well, they’ll also use that poll to present a blatantly pro-car policy. Less than a week after running that vacuous story about plowing a bike lane, they ran a poll asking, Would you pay more in taxes to have the City clear the snow from the end of your driveway?
I’m not kidding:
It was nice to see their respondents not fall for it…though I do wonder how many saw the irony.