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Morning Brew: University Avenue bike lane proposal killed by voting error, dedicated GO bus lanes on the DVP, TTC bus driver charged with DUI, holiday shopping decision deferred to the fall, back taxes for City employees, go Habs!

Posted by Jerrold Litwinenko / May 13, 2010

camera trickAdvocates for bike lanes in Toronto must be extremely disappointed this morning. In fact, all Torontonians have reason to be shaking their heads in disbelief. There will be no pilot project to test feasibility of dedicated bike lanes on University Avenue because when city council put the proposal to a vote, councilor Paula Fletcher killed the motion -- by accidentally casting the deciding vote in favour of rejecting the proposal. Under the rules governing city council, her vote can't be reversed. How does this happen?

Dedicated lanes of another sort are being proposed. The idea involves using part of the center median shoulder lanes on the DVP as dedicated thoroughfares for GO Transit buses during rush hour. Metrolinx believes that watching a busload of commuters whiz by while drivers twiddle their thumbs in snarled traffic will motivate them to leave the car at home. The biggest problem I see with this proposal is that the section of highway being considered covers just a small fraction of a much longer, troubled commuter route.

The TTC is going to have to go into damage control mode once again, after a 47-year old bus driver was arrested and charged with impaired driving. Police responded to calls from the public about an erratic driver, tracked down and pulled over the bus, and took the driver in for a sobriety drug test (which presumably, he failed). What was he high on? What will union head Bob Kinnear have to say? Will we learn that he has a medical condition and instead of calling police the public should have helped him roll a fat doobie? I jest (only in part)!

The Toronto Star's Royson James isn't pleased with "mainline" media's handling of the mayoral election candidates, particularly that just six of the 26 registered participants are invited to heavily reported debates. Clearly the solution isn't to have 26-person debates, but I'm not sure I like his proposal either -- to have a contest amongst the 20 not invited, with one winner earning a place in a future debate. 95% of the problem remains.

City council has deferred voting on a motion to allow stores outside of designated tourist areas to open on statutory holidays. The issue will be revisited in October, after the fall municipal elections but likely before the Christmas shopping season gets into full swing.

The Canada Revenue Agency has reassessed the City's taxable benefits dating all the way back to 2006... and decided that 1700 City employees owe back taxes for parking-related benefits and that they need to relinquish their free TTC passes or pay taxes on them. How did this come about? Was the impetus Rob Ford's cost- and frivolous privilege-cutting campaign?

And at the risk of poking at Leafs fans... go Habs!

Photo: "Rolls" by King Sebas, member of the blogTO Flickr pool.



Rob / May 13, 2010 at 09:15 am
Those lanes Metrolinx is trying to reconfigure should be torn up and put in light-rail lines that run across all 400 series and Toronto highways. That would get more people out of their cars.

Re: Habs fans - pathetic. Stupid morons. Riot when you win the Cup not after one round.
LEAFS / May 13, 2010 at 09:17 am
Go Boston/Philly in the next round. Nuts to the habs.
LEAFS / May 13, 2010 at 09:20 am
Jerrold Litwinenko needs to go to spelling school.
Joe / May 13, 2010 at 09:22 am
I'd like to see what that terrorist Bob Kinnear has to say this time. How will he blame the public for this incident?
Mike / May 13, 2010 at 09:23 am
I've never really understood the "Cheer for the remaining Canadian team" mentality, especially if you're a Leafs fan.

Firstly, if you're doing so strictly from a nationalistic perspective, remember that there are just as many Canadian players on these American clubs.

Secondly, do you honestly think if the Leafs were Canada's last remaining hope, people in Vancouver or Edmonton or Montreal would be cheering for us? Not a chance. Half of these fans hate the Leafs (and Toronto) more than they like their own teams, so why not respond in kind?
Andrew / May 13, 2010 at 09:36 am
'accidentally' voted... it's a good way to save face when you have to choose between common sense and an irrational minority of vocal supporters.
geg / May 13, 2010 at 09:45 am
lmao @ LEAFS

go habs
Darcy McGee replying to a comment from Mike / May 13, 2010 at 10:02 am
You've spent a bit too much time rationalizing this, haven't you?
Jacob replying to a comment from Mike / May 13, 2010 at 10:04 am
Nothing wrong with cheering for a rival. Sure, I'd rather the Leafs win (ya, right), but the Habs have been our semi-friendly sparring partner for a century.

Screw the Sens, though. I'm glad they're out.
GTA dweller / May 13, 2010 at 10:06 am
On the subject of using median shoulder lanes... I think it's a great idea. We don't actually need two shoulder lanes, one on each side. Places like Los Angeles don't have median shoulder lanes, but on some of their highways, those are converted entirely for buses only. And buses are fast, especially if they're unobstructed (which they will have been in this case).

Building a LRT on the 400-series is a really, really bad idea (to put it mildly). Expensive, impractical (what about stops?), etc...

As for bike lanes... I still think that money spent on bike lanes and creating bigger traffic would have been much, much better spent if all drivers were required to undergo mandatory education classes on sharing the road with cyclists. And have it a repeatable course every 5 years or so.

Though we have bike lanes, many drivers still do not know defensive driving techniques when it comes to being considerate of cyclists.
Mike replying to a comment from Darcy McGee / May 13, 2010 at 10:07 am
Well, considering that I'm a Leafs fan, I've had the time to rationalize.
Rob replying to a comment from GTA dweller / May 13, 2010 at 10:13 am
It may be expensive, yes, but not impratical. There wouldn't be as many stops. It would be more like GO Transit.

The point is that this system would be regional and would use cheaper transit alternatives such as light-rail technology.
AV replying to a comment from GTA dweller / May 13, 2010 at 10:28 am
Ever been to Chicago? They're LRT runs right along the highway and stops are worked into the existing infrastructure. Works well enough for them?

AV replying to a comment from GTA dweller / May 13, 2010 at 10:28 am
Their, not They're.
UR SMRTT replying to a comment from Rob / May 13, 2010 at 10:32 am
Next Stop! Don Mills Rd. Don't worry passengers, you only have a 1km climb uphill in either direction once you de-train!!!
Rob replying to a comment from UR SMRTT / May 13, 2010 at 10:41 am
You're not thinking straight. The purpose of these lines would be for regional use, not necessarily city use.

The stops would connect to large parking garages, similar to some TTC and GO lots, where thousands of people could be brought into the city without driving in.

Also, if such a case came up, there's still the TTC. No one would have to walk that far, stop exaggerating with nonsense.
Mark / May 13, 2010 at 10:47 am
The fall election is at the end of October, so no, the vote on holiday shopping hours won't be considered then. At the earliest it would be mid-December, when council has its first meeting of the new term.
Mike replying to a comment from GTA dweller / May 13, 2010 at 11:02 am
Re: Mandatory Education Classes

I would assume the cyclists would be taking similar classes, as well, no? Like ones that instruct the importance of staying off of the sidewalk and obeying all traffic signs at all times and not just when it's convenient to them?
AV / May 13, 2010 at 11:39 am

"A Toronto Transit Commission bus driver charged with impaired driving Wednesday was under the influence of drugs prescribed by his doctor, according to the transit workers’ union.

“He was apparently affected by doctor-prescribed medication he had been taking for several months,” Bob Kinnear, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113, said in a statement.

“He had not been advised that his medication might cause impairment. There had been no prior indication of impairment from the medication. A medical investigation is underway.”"

Classic TTC Union response.... I find it simply amazing that the "drugs prescribed by his doctor" that "he had been taking for several months" suddenly affected him?! Also, has he been driving on these drugs for several months, thereby putting all passengers at risk?

Good ol' TTC
Jerrold replying to a comment from AV / May 13, 2010 at 11:49 am
I wonder which prescription drugs result in positive test results in police drug sobriety tests.
gadfly replying to a comment from AV / May 13, 2010 at 11:54 am
Yes, I've been to Chicago many times, but let's put this in perspective. First off, the greater Chicago area services about 10 million people - more than double any stretch of the GTA's numbers can come up to. Secondly, Chicago has many one way streets in the core and many 6 lane roads.
I was there fore the Taste of Chicago 2 years ago and stayed in a hotel only 2 blocks away from Millenium Park where a million people were expected for a free Stevie Wonder concert and guess what - I had no problems getting to and from my hotel BY CAR!
But if we really want to 'be like Chicago,' how about that nasty, rattling old rusty 'L' that circumnavigates the core? How'd you like that outside your window?
We all need to be careful when we cherry pick what we like about other cities. Toronto's troubles are legion, but they ALL stem from the love-hate relationship with Queen's Park and the total lack of infrastructural spending of the past 30 years. Regardless of whether you hate motorists or think all commuters by bicycles are morons, we can all agree that NOTHING has been done in 30 years while we keep building, building, building...
Colchester2 replying to a comment from Mike / May 13, 2010 at 12:19 pm
Agree with Mike on mandatory classes for cyclists. Of course, the other issue is that most cyclists are only out in the good weather months. I live on one of the residential bike routes. No surprise, it's just the stalwarts in the winter and they're very good and agile cyclists. I have a lot of respect for them. Then the warmer weather hits and the daytrippers come out. These sanctimonious twits ride on the sidewalk, ride down the middle of the road, ignore stop signs because, hey, they're saving the environment.
Do drivers need to be better at sharing the road? Absolutely. But drivers and pedestrians (remember us?) also see a priveleged minority.
Dan replying to a comment from Colchester2 / May 13, 2010 at 12:23 pm
How are cyclists priveleged? The fact we can't seem to make much headway with bike lanes seems to prove the opposite...
Daniel / May 13, 2010 at 12:26 pm
Re TTC why is the driver not named? If it was any regular Joe they would have named the driver. And what kind of medication was the driver taking?
They should do random drug testing for all drivers, our lives are at risk, and make sure they aren't using any sleeping medication well at the very least, the drivers.

Daniel ... Toronto ..
Drea / May 13, 2010 at 12:34 pm
I think you're all forget the fact that university avenue is a hospital zone. Those medians should be used for ambulances to get around traffic.
cyclist, use the side streets. They were good enough for you before. They should be good enough for you now.
godcyclist / May 13, 2010 at 01:19 pm
Nothing is ever good enough for the cyclists, bunch of whiners.
The Shakes / May 13, 2010 at 01:21 pm
2 things i never thought i'd ever say in my lifetime. Yey to the CRA and yey to Rob Ford!
Alogon replying to a comment from Joe / May 13, 2010 at 02:02 pm
Well, you know, it's our fault for not asking the guy if he was OK or needed some cab fare to go home and sleep of his "meds". Plus, we all made him sick enough to require "meds" in the first place, what with all our selfish desire for passable customer service.

I, for one, am absolutely disgusted by us, <strike>the citizens of Toronto </strike> the servants of the public unions, and think we should be punished. Wildcat strike anyone?
Alogon replying to a comment from gadfly / May 13, 2010 at 02:10 pm
"we can all agree that NOTHING has been done in 30 years while we keep building, building, building."
Amen to that.

Finally found something we agree on gad.
AV replying to a comment from gadfly / May 13, 2010 at 02:10 pm
I've stayed in Chicago many times, and the L-Train went right by a couple of the rooms I've stayed in. Doesn't bother me, but then again, I probably wouldn't be able to feel a pea underneath my mattress either.
Denise replying to a comment from Rob / May 13, 2010 at 02:33 pm
It's not HABS Fans, it's just a handful of morons who do the looting and damage.

Taking to the streets is a tradition in Montreal.

And for the record, Montreal has beat the odds so far, kicking out the #1 team and now the defending champions, sending Ovechkin AND Sid the Kid home for early vacation.

This is a big run for the Habs, and fans are right to be proud!


Rob replying to a comment from Denise / May 13, 2010 at 03:04 pm
Celebrating is one thing, hooliganism is another and if the tables were turned and this was the Leafs making it this far and rioting in the streets Montrealers would call us classless.
Denise / May 13, 2010 at 04:37 pm
I agree with you Rob.

I'm just saying that the vast majority were celebrating. And it's a shame that a handful of arses ruin it for everyone.

I think the Montrealers would be impressed if we rioted in the streets. It would be showing some passion.

Something Torontonians aren't really known for. (at least in Montreal.)

gadfly replying to a comment from AV / May 14, 2010 at 07:45 am
Nor our room, but try holding a conversation on the street when one goes by overhead! Plus, they are quite the nasty eye sore, but somehow Chicagoans are trying to rationalize the L, like we do our nasty streetcars. It's amazing what people will put up with.
Of course, you just skip over my point, that every city has its failings and we must not cherry pick what it is that we like: the city must be taken as a whole and Toronto is failing badly on EVERY front, with respect to ANY 'world class city.'
That's okay, the G20 Summit will swiftly put to rest any illusions that this city is anything more than a backwater that happened to have great geography.
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