The current mayor of Montreal is a lot like many other North American mayors. He dreams of cutting ribbons on new stadiums. He likes to get his picture taken doing charity events. And he is at the front lines of stalling and incompetently building bicycle infrastructure as slowly as possible, and building expensive car infrastructure to bankrupt the state.
Above is a protected bike lane that our car-mayor halted after a few meters because it would displace a couple dozen parking spots. So, a compromise was made, and a sidewalk was eliminated (in a popular city park) so that the cars could continue to chew up the landscape next to a main north-south bicycle artery. The result is as crooked as… you can finish the sentence.
Our mayor certainly isn’t alone. Like many of our recent mayors, he’s got lots of connections to people in many well-oiled places, and he thus prefers pitching P.R. curve-balls from the side of his mouth when it comes to changing transportation habits. Evidence that there’s more fast money in bribes from industry than there is in creating positive change.
A new study in the Journal of the American Planning Association estimates that in 2010 there were approximately 18.6 million parking spaces in Los Angeles County. That’s about 3.3 spaces, or 1,000 square feet, per vehicle—literally more space for each car than for each person in the county. The authors also note that the amount of parking has continued to grow over the years, from around 2.5 million spaces in 1930, to 12 million in 1970, to 18.6 million in 2010. That data is over 5 years old, so don’t be surprised if we’re approaching the 19 million mark by now.
It seems logical that the way to reduce car congestion is to widen roads and build more parking. But this is exactly what Los Angeles has been doing for the last 50 years, and the results are: Los Angeles is 70% asphalt, and totally congested!
But one more tragic result of accomodating the car (instead of humans) is the illustration above courtesy of Better Institutions. The city-for-the-car is a dysfunctional moonscape with a massive parking crater where its heart ought to be.
photo source: Scrape TV
A recent blog article by Howie Chong mentions that there is much more statistical justification for making helmets mandatory for car drivers and passengers than for bicycles (if safety is the concern), and that pedestrians have as much chance of sustaining head injuries as cyclists do. The article (link below) goes on to describe how a cyclist wearing a helmet actually may increase the danger of an accident with an automobile.
Risk of head injury per million hours travelled
- Cyclist – 0.41
- Pedestrian – 0.80
- Motor vehicle occupant – 0.46
- Motorcyclist – 7.66
Source: Why It Makes Sense to Bike Without a Helmet
I’ve cycled to the top of Mount Royal every New Year’s Day for the last 14 years. This year, I decided to introduce a new tradition: Cola Ice.
What is Cola Ice? Well, when it’s below freezing outside, the cola gradually freezes starting on the outside, forming a skin of beige slush. But just before it’s frozen solid, there’s a delicious core of concentrated liquid in the center which is about ten times as strong in flavor as regular, unfrozen cola. Sort of like a cola espresso.
This year, at -18, the cola took 45 minutes to freeze to perfection.
One word of warning for anyone trying this: when you open the Cola Ice, it explodes like it’s been shaken. Try to set it down somewhere to let the excess fizz pour out. Then pop the iced up bottleneck open with your tongue, squeeze the excess slush from the neck of the bottle, and enjoy.