Tuesday, June 7, 2005

Hey! It's commie week and London is joining the festivities

After a trip to Toronto today, from which I emerged covered in a thin layer of black grime, I was almost prepared to say a few good words about London, until I read this:

Ministry Issues Indefinite Smog Advisory

People in London and surrounding areas will be breathing in a brown haze this week as they enjoy the season's first summer-like heat wave.

[..] Illnesses related to air pollution are thought to cost the province's economy almost $1 billion a year in health and economic costs.

The government suggests people walk, bike or take public transit to work to reduce smog.

People are also asked to turn off their lights when they don't need them and set their air conditioning a few degrees higher.
I imagine Londoners will welcome the slight variation on the black cloud that usually hovers over London.
On your bike, London

The annual bike festival hopes to encourage commuters to abandon their greenhouse-gas-emitting vehicles for bicycles.

Forcing Coaxing people out of their cars and onto their bicycles with helmets is the major goal of this week's bicycle festival in London.

The annual festival which takes place at the galleria mall is combined with two other anti-pollution campaigns, the Commuter Challenge, an emission-reduction competition for municipalities across Canada, and the federal One-Tonne Of Bullshit Challenge, aimed at getting everyone to reduce their greehouse gas emissions by one tonne a year.

The bike festival also coincides with Canadian Environment Week, which runs until Saturday, and National Clean Air Day on Wednesday.

The clean-air efforts are being held this year against a backdrop of high gasoline prices at the pumps, worries about obesity resulting from lack of regular exercise, growing concerns about the health effects of air pollution and the impact of vehicle emissions on global warming.

"We're not just encouraging recreational cycling but commuting," said Diane Szoller of the Thames Region Ecological Association, which organizes the 14-year-old festival.

[..] The bicycle's benefits are obvious to Gosse Van Oosten, a Londoner who rides between 1,000 and 2,000 kilometres a year, combining errands around town with longer forays into the countryside.
Got that fatties - you're responsible for global warming. After you've paid your taxes for those Doritos, you won't be able to afford a car, nor nutritious food, so you'll be trimming up whether you like it or not. I wonder that the smokers didn't get a mention, but I suppose they are nearing extinction and so not worth the bother for much longer.

The awaited for punch line:
People can save thousands in the annual costs of operating a car and municipalities millions of dollars a year in road costs, since bikes cause little, if any, wear and tear on pavement and there's no need to widen roads to handle ever-growing volumes of car and truck traffic, said Van Oosten.

"Every year there are more and more cars on London's roads and the city has to spend millions of dollars just to widen existing roads, let alone build new ones," he said.

[..] Van Oosten said there are also security benefits from riding a bike.

People walking or cruising the city on bikes are more in touch with their surroundings than motorists whizzing past and more likely to spot illegal activity in neighbourhoods, he said.
Just imagine! If they had to spend more on roads, there would be less for public education and health care!


Anonymous said...

Riding a bike in London (which my wife did for 15 years, commuting from Byron to London Health Sciences Centre every weekday day) is a hazardous enterprise even on good days. The bike path restrictions are usually ignored, and motorists see cyclists as fair game. Bike peths don't get you to most places except the riverbanks.

We moved to Calgary nearly three years ago, The city is overwhelmingly bike-friendly. All new developments must have extensive bike paths linking into a city-wide network of regional paths. Bike stands are plentiful. Motorists (with the exception of hard-core lunatics you'd find anywhere) respect the rights of cyclists.

As a consequence of these attitudes vat the City level, and along with many other sensible measures, Calgary's population is amongst the fittest and healthiest in the country. No pressure, regulations or force have been needed: provide the facilities and they WILL be used.

London, when we left, was a hopeless case of civic sloth, political ineptitude and special-interest cronyism. Sounds like nothing much has changed!

Anonymous said...

People walking or cruising the city on bikes are more in touch with their surroundings than motorists whizzing past and more likely to spot illegal activity in neighbourhoods, he said.

It's true! The other day I was riding my bike around town and I saw a whole bunch of crimes. I saw a couple of city workers driving around in a brand-new, shiny, pickup truck with all the upgrades, doing f--- all but pretending they were busy. Next I saw a guy who oversees contracts in the government, with a brand new SUV, a camper RV, and a motorboat in his driveway, getting ready for a weekend at the cottage on a lake where I could never afford to buy. Next, I almost ran into a moving van that was illegally blocking the road. Seems that a retired couple who were so unwise as to not get an indexed government pension, were being forced to move due to high taxes. Finally I collapsed and had to be brought to the hospital, because of criminal neglect of city streets and pathways had turned them into ragweed farms, which gave me a severe asthma attack. But overall, I'm glad that I took their advice and got out of my car. I really learned a lot.


basil said...

I was going to walk to work today, but the smog advisory suggested I not exert myself. I stayed in my air conditioned home and smoked cigarettes instead.