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14 died on the Canadian city's streets in a four-week period — the highest one-month total in a decade.
Miller made improving Toronto’s long-neglected public transit system a priority during his two terms in office, which end in November, when he retires. He fought hard for more funding from a sometimes stone-deaf provincial government. But he failed to do some simple things that would have helped, such as banning left hand turns on roads where streetcars operate. He prefers to leave crowded streetcars waiting behind lines of cars — inevitably filled with only the driver — making left turns.
Some months ago, he mounted the courage to propose putting a bike lane on Jarvis Street, a heavily used road that cuts north-south through downtown Toronto. Motorists immediately accused him of waging a “war on the car” — a slogan trotted out the minute proposals friendly to pedestrians or public transit are even hinted at.
Toronto City Council passed the proposal, but its implementation is uncertain. One of the main contenders campaigning for the mayor’s job has vowed to stop it if he wins. Another top contender wants a moratorium on bike lanes and more public debate about their need. They don’t dare risk being labeled unfriendly to motorists. The fact that Toronto has far fewer bike lanes than Montreal — 248 miles compared to 310 miles — doesn’t trouble them in the slightest.
Last week, similar concerns erupted when city council proposed a temporary bike lane on University Avenue, another heavily used downtown street. The plan was defeated by one vote.
Incredibly, the city councilor who cast the deciding vote, Paula Fletcher, said she supported the bike path but in a moment of electronic confusion, pushed the button that cast a No vote rather than a Yes.
I bet she was distracted by her BlackBerry.