Archive for January, 2011

Let’s all grab a shovel and make a neighbor – Part 1

January 9, 2011

Yesterday, Toronto had a chance to wake up to something that it hasn’t seen for quite a while…an actually substantial amount of the most fun stuff in the world: snow.  It made it a great day to spend time outside, to prioritize what it is one needs to do, and to simplify and slow down to the point where life is just made up of:

“Let’s smile and say hi to everyone who looks back with a smile”

The best thing about yesterday was that as I walked and played outside, I ran into many other people who wanted to do the same thing.  I started chats and overheard conversations about all kinds of things, most of the louder ones being of the happier sort.  (another way you know it’s a good kind of day).  I saw a potential new apartment, dealt gracefully with streetcar delays, and walked all across the lower east side and thought back on my blog posting about “It’s Harder to be Kind Than Clever – watch the video“.

I saw new conversations happening where it was clear that two new friends – having been living next door to each other for who knows how long – were finally speaking after multiple near misses, enabled by their shared plight of having to shovel.  I overheard snips of conversations along Yonge St about…well…Banjo mostly, as people just talk about him alot.  There seems to be plenty of unrequited dog adoration happening in Toronto.  But the other thing that people were discussing everywhere was the network of separated bicycle lanes  (Toronto Star Article) that there is an excellent opportunity, right now, to make happen.

While this is going to end up being a long blog post, I hope you’ll remember first and foremost to please email your councillor, info@bikeunion.to, and pwic@toronto.ca and support these bike lanes, so that less people need to be hurt trying simply earning a living and moving themselves throughout Toronto.

Cyclists, and any driver who has ever had a nervous moment on the road, and all pedestrians know that these lanes will make the roads safer.  Anyone who has had the extreme privilege of exploring Copenhagen or Amsterdam knows that traffic will flow more freely around central Toronto if these lanes are installed.  As shown in New York (Read about my visit to NY ) it is possible to install entire vast systems of infrastructure.  Poetically,  Mayor Ford’s office announced the day prior to our snowfall that it had no objections to the separated bike lanes plan supported by Councillor Minan Wong (new chair of the public works and infrastructure committee).

Mayor Ford’s office should support separated bike lanes.   The Globe and Mail‘s reporting that “it is not a priority” does not say they are against them and is extremely irresponsible by the Globe and Mail.  I never look to them for news anyways and will not link to that paper on this blog. Reporting direct quotes on indirect responses to things helps no one. If they would like to ask Ford’s staff, in addition, whether they would be against bike lanes if and when it comes up, i will feel better about their directing my readers to consider them unbiased.

Every councillor in this city has an opportunity- in supporting this plan – to show solidarity on an issue that is an actual, legitimate improvement for everyone who uses Toronto’s streets.  It enables more people to get around the city without being at risk while they simply move about.  Cars collide more with other cars than anything else, and insurance is set up to take care of these situations.  We call them accidents.  They also collide with other things, but only when a pedestrian or a cyclist is involved is there a high risk for injury no matter what the situation.  Few are mad about the costs and inherent risks of making cars a normal part of our transportation system because the genius of cars also allows me to travel great distances and see places that I simply cannot take the time to bike or walk to in today’s society.  That’s also why I love trains (I find them awesome in an almost uncomfortable way) and planes as well.  It’s the same reason I like spaceships.  I’m ok they blow up once in awhile because we as a society have weighed the risks and rewards and said yes they are useful and we can deal with a crash or a failed mission in search of greater growth.  After accepting these risks, we’ve built a good system for making sure that cars hit cyclists and pedestrians far less than each other.  I’m fairly certain that the risks of being either a storefront, a lightpost, or a cyclist hit by a car are pretty much the same.  Cars hit each other, despite our great system for preventing them from doing so, because they are driven by humans.

And lets face it, we all sort of just suck at being perfect at anything.

Sometimes i try to touch my nose and I touch my ear…or the side of my head, or someone’s side mirror instead.  I’m not perfect.  When me, or say 99.9% of the “friends I haven’t met yet” are driving around the city, and we feel less-than perfect, we don’t drive.  But then once in awhile,we have things occur like what happened in this story.  Did you click it?  I’m spoon-feeding you here…the thinking is still ahead.  All I’m asking is click the link…I know you got  a computer virus like this once…but do it.  It’s why the internet is cool.  Note the effect on the driver’s health.  Note the effect on the storefront’s health.  Whether the storefront is a storefront or a 60 year old woman didn’t matter in the state less-than-perfect that this driver was in. Now note the last line.  The one most memorable to those who think this story matters:

“Police are still trying to determine the cause of the accident.”

Of course it was an accident.  I know that the elderly woman struck by the car wasn’t being attacked, as if by some other weapon.  The reason it’s a weapon is that the last line again…the one the media should end the story with (and, for the record, if someone would please do this just once, I would love it):

“Police are still investigating what turned a previously sane person, no different than readers of this paper, into a driver with skills equal to those of an untrained goldfish to cause this accident”

Drivers do not drive into banks.  Sometimes a stroke or a something or other causes them to do so. The reason the word struck is important is that it’s been decided at some point that CP24, who reports news SO FAST (amazing, really) that they need to use the word struck when the driver is in danger of more than likely being liable for legal, rather than insurance panel, claims.  Again, this all makes sense because that’s the system we’ve all agreed on…and it works.  There are downsides, like the fact that this also drives CP24 to end with the accident line…not the goldfish line, even though its just as true, it is much less defensible in court.  That wouldn’t be fair to the driver.  That too, I know…presuming he wasn’t drunk which doesn’t seem to have been the case in this story.

Turns out, in this story, when picked up mere hours earlier by  a blog on the, National Post, the woman had changed (80 years old) and the mall proper, not the storefront was to blame.  All of this makes me actually think that the last lines of both stories should read, in what I hope is Onionesque fashion for all the good work they do running the world’s longest tongue in cheek joke series without smiling,

“Police are still investigating the death of the Pinko 60 Year Old Woman who was turned into a purple butterfly and is no longer living.  The driver, and the editors of two major news magazines are under investigation in the transmogrification.  The editors of the newspapers are filing class action lawsuits against the universities of the world for their continued unwillingness to teach students how to fact check things that aren’t already on google or in a library.”

The point is that despite this critical flaw in reporting new happenings – probably turns out that everyone was busy trying to save all of the “friends who we haven’t met” lives. Then they can go and have a beer together.  The man in the car could tell the woman how it felt to suddenly have the driving abilities of a goldfish.

And now, to get back to the wider reaching intentions of this tome, here is a main point:  Voting occurs not just in elections, but in communicating with government.  The same goes for communicating with the media.   In both cases, we must first be conscious of the gaps and flaws in the systems we build.

A main one right now is that there are 1000’s of cyclists (CBC Story)   These numbers are awfully low.  Like all stats, it just depends on what the parameters of the survey are and this one is only tracking cyclists that ride across certain boundaries in the city.  It’s not all of the cyclists but its a good start when you understand the data.   Seems like they don’t bike much where I bike, but that’s ok..I guess.  But the important story is that there ARE 19,000 human beings riding bikes to pick up groceries, to get to work at the hospital, to play or practice  for one of the professional sports teams in town, or to help police our streets from the saddle and all of them are in danger to the human condition which is this: we’re all human…and there’s a bunch of us.  The best system in the world only limits injuries and deaths.

This data and commentary suggests that counting just major crossings is a good predictor of cyclist behavior.  Investments have been made in this area to increase cycling, and we find that it is now a dense cycling area.  College St is used as one example.  Cyclists will go wherever the paths of least resistance are through the city.  They’ll go where they feel safest.  Today, those areas are streets like College, Harbord, Shuter, St George, and Greenwood.  Cyclists like me are actually more inclined to take a route with other cyclists rather than just the fastest route.  Its safer.

I hope you’ll at least stick with me here and agree that I’ve given all of these topics a lot of thought and now feel that:

The separated bike lanes system means that Toronto can step up and be among the best transit systems in the world.  It will limit injuries and deaths.

In the case of the bikelanes I feel the challenge we will face is perspective, in this case the ability to be empathetic to a road user that is currently most exposed to injury and death.   Bike lanes are a simple place to be kind.

ALL ROAD USERS: DRIVERS, CYCLISTS, AND PEDESTRIANS BENEFIT FROM A PHILOSOPHICAL SHIFT TOWARDS PROTECTING THOSE AROUND US IN OUR SHARED CITIES.  PLEASE EMAIL pwic@toronto.ca – the Public Infrastructure and Works Commission , info@bikeunion.to, and especially your local councillor and make sure that people are kept safe.

Have you got a shovel? Part 2

January 9, 2011

…continued

On the freeways, cars collide and cause damage.  This damage is limited by the cars themselves, and people are relatively unscathed. Because of the psychological systems we’ve built around driving, the crash is addressed as part of a system.  For a variety of reasons, people are hurt very rarely despite many many crashes on our freeways.  The roads, built for the cars only are able to help limit serious injuries.  The media, focussed on getting the news fast cannot always get it right, for the exact same reason that driver’s cannot always get it right.  These incidents are called accidents, partially due to the legal system which gives the media firm parameters on what it can and cannot say.  Then the most important system, our ethical one…which varies a bit from person to person, gets its chance to weigh in with what the media should do.  Combine all those 4 systems and we have an amazing system here for making sure the right things happen, but it doesn’t cover everything…it just makes all the holes really small.  At the end of the day, all of these systems only work when we, as individuals, hone our own ethical systems through thought and focus, knowing all the while that we can never know if we’re getting the answers right because the problems are honestly just too complicated and there’s always a way to find a pretty solid-seeming defense on why to do something differently.

On surface roads in the suburbs and outer areas, there are multiple lanes of traffic as most residents (citizens and taxpayers) choose to use cars where cyclists are generally welcome to use the sidewalks that go largely unused.  This unspoken agreement, combined with the natural motions of the area, manages to create a barrier between different road users.  It’s important to note that even sidewalks are considered part of the road – or street – by the city.  Freeways belong entirely to the cars and cost tons of money.  But because they are also critical for shipping goods that we all need, and because lots of cyclists and pedestrians who live downtown use them and love them too, although more sparingly for whatever reason.

In the downtown core things are different.  Super dense numbers of road users of all types.  Cyclists – who are given no quarter on current Toronto road designs in which to amass – continue to have small numbers compared to pedestrians and cars.  At many intersections, buildings placed too near corners can cause pedestrian passings to be blind engagements.  Some don’t react quickly (goldfish moment) and bump into another.  Colliding. Crashing.  They are accidents, but it would be silly to call it so.  It simply is.  Its a fact of sharing tight spaces with other people. And because, for just an instant, we can smell the other person, feel the fabric of their jacket, and whether their arm is squishy, hard, or somewhere in the middle, these interactions are called other things.  Unless someone has an especially hard area or someone is going especially quickly, everyone leaves unscathed.

Meanwhile car drivers have stress-relief techniques taught to them so that they can properly remember their accidents with the other drivers.

Get all of the details right.

Make sure to get the insurance information, exchange phone numbers.

Avoid being angry and wait for the police.

Many of these collisions result in private, drawn out investigations but, so long as no one is badly hurt, the insurance agencies which both parties have by law – simply for cases like this.  While the incidents are called “accidents”, the multi billion dollar industry full of lobbyists and fine print used by automobile owners as a government/public-imposed, self regulated, capital-based legal decision that surrounds its surely cannot be.

The insurance dues paid by auto drivers exist completely because of accidents. Politics, I think, can actually be seen as working really well here.   The Auto users pay into a pool that settles as many “accident” disputes as possible without clogging the legal system.  And auto users, for good reason, pay out the nose for this system.  Cyclists and pedestrians don’t pay because their disputes also don’t tend to clog up any legal systems.  Having hit a pedestrian once who just didn’t see me as he stepped into the well defined Chicago bike lane I was riding in (defined with paint), at high speed (25k) on a bike only to both stand up slowly, make sure we were both ok, and move along, I’m fairly certain that not too many cyclists are handing over 500 quick bucks in order to avoid going to court (as might sometimes happen when a really nice car hits a less nice one, resulting in minor bumper damage…the insurance industry charges luxury premiums).

The point is that the separated bike lanes are inherently good as they make more of our road surface safely usable for all road users. Pedestrians will have extra distance between the building they are striding past and the cars, instead having an area of greatly less risk, so that if they forget themselves and take a step too far, they will stand up and shake hands with the person who’s day has been ruined by hitting them (cyclist), instead of possibly not standing up for sometime as medical help is called (driver).  Other scenarios are possible, but this is the most likely.  Drivers benefit as the curbs make them take more acute right turns, instead of the gently curved corners, where curbs disappear, that are still found around downtown.  This will help them avoid hitting cyclists and pedestrians.  While there is a name on the insurance cheque stub given to me at the end of last year, i do not know if it was a man or woman that hit me on July 14th, corner of Queen and Jarvis.  The piece of paper they handed me as I left the hospital some 4 hours later, where I had woken up…really happy to see my wife and not sure how i got there…said that’s where I was hit.  I remember biking East past King and Bay…red truck on my left, guy in sunglasses….looked like a stern but considerate guy.  I notice those things as I check people out in their side mirrors before trying to pass them…on either side…there is no “correct side” for bikes to pass cars on.  If we go on the left, we’re daredevils…going  between cars.  If we go on the right, we “shoot out of nowhere” just as their about to turn right on our shared green right of way. Shared.  Seriously…i got struck by a car.   But now I’m ok, so we had an accident.

The new bike lanes proposed would eliminate some of the blindspot that exists as a bike rides into a car’s field of vision….there’s no debate about it.  It’s the principal of “how mirrors work” that makes the space directly behind the car, like a snowman built on the back left or right corner of the bumper, harder to see than a snow man moved 2 feet further out to either side.  My head reportedly smashed the windshield of the car that hit me, leaving glass embedded in my face. I’m sure that the person that hit me called the hospital to see if I survived, when their busy day demanded that they trudge on, doing the best they could, even though I was still unconscious…leaving in the ambulance for St Michael’s, who treated me so very well.  When her insurance company and I, after months of missed exchanges and voicemails (a couple each way), got ahold of me in December and told me they hadn’t yet received the police report they requested I realized I hadn’t followed up on that report either.

Funny thing though, after laying unconscious for a little over an hour and moving from Queen and Jarvis to a bed at St Mike’s, I woke up.  And despite not knowing why I hurt so badly, or really where I was.  I knew it was a good thing.  I also knew that I wasn’t ready yet to look down at anything and that my whole body hurt from the outside in.  I only remember thinking that i had a body for the first little bit, and vaguely that a doctor asked me a question…i’m pretty sure that’s where they got my wife’s number from as they couldn’t have easily deciphered that from my cell phone listing.  When she got there, and I posed for pictures, the magnitude of the thing hit me.  I had just come as close to death as I’d ever come.  I made it, but wow.

I didn’t wear a helmet when I rode that day and I’m lucky that, in the end, I don’t have to regret it. As best I can tell, I am going to be ok.  I get dizzy sometimes still but its improving and doctors said that was normal for up to 6 months when you get a concussion.  I somehow have no scars on my face and the ones on my shoulder and knee seem like worthy badges for whatever the collision it was i endured.  I seem to remember one of the docs saying I was hit about 45kph, but i can’t really even recall that conversation clearly….most of that first day after getting hit is a bit of a blur.  I cant recall if I had xrays or an mri….i had one, and I’m pretty sure it was x-rays…but there was definitely a machine.  But other than that, my memory before the collision and after seems fine.  I’m riding my bike again, although was relegated to transit for about 2 months overall, able to ride shorter distances again after about 2 weeks.  My awesome, well loved Batavus BuB –  big slow, beautiful city bike was destroyed (MSRP $675).

I consulted with a lawyer who advised me that head things are serious, and while it might take a long time to exhibit issues, i should get papers filed to make sure I can, essentially, keep myself under legal observation until such time that it would make sense to take legal recourse for my damages.  But I don’t pay into the auto driver’s insurance co-op, and I can’t even remember what happened. I could have caused the whole thing.  I might be due damages even if I did cause the whole thing.

It doesn’t really matter who’s fault it is.  Since I don’t remember anything, having a helmet might have changed some things.  Instead of my head smashing breaking her windshield, maybe it bounces off and goes in front of some other thing.  Maybe then I break my leg.  Maybe the impact on my neck from whiplash is enough that I can’t use my legs anymore.  Maybe I still get the concussion, just not the face lacerations.  Maybe, maybe, maybe.

From now on, I’m going to wear a helmet because I think it will help send a message to those who would first ask “did they have a helmet on?” when hearing of a cyclist getting hit by a car. It’s not about the helmet, it’s about making sure goldfish moments don’t kill people. I’ll wear a helmet from now until I feel the discussion changes, then I’ll do whatever I’m most comfortable with again; enjoying my own traversals about Toronto.

And I told  the insurance company what I did know about the accident, the conversation quickly turned to money.  I added things up in my head and tried to think of the exact actual cost to me: bike – $675 plus tax.  2 months of transit…say…$30 a week (i don’t do monthly passes…bike makes it so it would be a waste of money – $240.  That’s $925.

Then the woman on the phone said “and of course we’ll pay for your medical damages”.

I am originally from the US, but was invited to Canada to help on a project for work and am extremely grateful for the OHIP program, especially as this was the first time I was able to use it.  -So far, so good in terms of my quality of care etc…and my wife and I are applying for permanent residency here as the city has become our home.  I pay taxes here and feel more than covered by the system.  I can’t guess what “medical expenses” would have been covered.

I’m assuming that the person that hit me with their car hates the fact that it happened, that they might still have nightmares of me bouncing off their windshield.  I also know that there is no chance in hell that i rode purposely in front of any cars.  I ride my bike everywhere, and until now have always been safe.  I  didn’t wear a helmet for the same reason drivers sometime don’t wear a seat belt.  If this collision was my fault, then it was surely an “accident”.  I had a goldfish moment.  That’s the story i’m telling myself anyways because I know it can happen to anyone and I’m not sure I really want to hear the details.  Ignorance; bliss.

That all being true, I received a settlement cheque.  The cheque came a day after I signed off on closure for the incident and was in the exact amount I requested.  I came to the amount after a good deal of thought and philosophical struggle with the actual monetizing of my injury.  In my mind, it was far lower than what I “could have got” but was as close to fair as what I think anyone could get, being that no one knew my injuries and risks in this decision better than me, and that I requested it.  For their part, the insurance company did nothing to stand in my way, so I have peace of mind that it was fair to them and to their clients, the auto owners.   For my part, I’m going to donate the amount to charity – it’s really not much.

It is the blinders that we willingly strap on, blocking out the other, that is preventing the world’s cities…not just Toronto, but certainly including Toronto, from making complete streets and also in extreme cases, for all kinds of other failures to act.  There is no reason, fundamentally, why bikes are bad…in fact, there are so many reasons why they are good that I don’t even care to mention them here.  Yet people continue to block out the fact that cyclists are going to continue to make mistakes, they are going to continue to be hit by doors opening on cabs when someone didn’t look, they are going to continue to be man-slaughtered by automobile drivers, having goldfish moments, not trying to kill anyone.

Now we are immediately seeing shenanigans like quick objection to what is clearly a really good plan, including a quick blurb about a $40M Pricetag from a guy who is also committed to cycling, yet has something standing in the way of reaching out an olive branch on this system.  There should be cease and desist orders requested on comments like this from the cycling community as now one cyclist (Mr Vaughan) has a chance to scrap a plan purportedly because his ward constituents don’t want it.  I think they do want it and, honestly, its on those people in Ward 20, and in every other ward across this city to tell their councillors what they want.  That’s the way the system works and for all of the disagreements I may or may not have for about how Mr Ford runs this city in the time to come, i totally support that he was elected and that there will be no excuses for taxpayers that don’t take the time to talk to their local councillor.  It’s what the government system, built by many years and many people can only work correctly if everyone is engaged.

The media should must better job of being even handed, especially with SunTV now making their way north based on a business model that, after yesterday, should at least give people pause if not fits of anger (the business model…hopefully SunTV will actually be “fair and balanced” and offer news).  But if they don’t, it’s not really their fault.  Because that means that individuals still turn that channel on.  Those individuals who are willing to be increasingly lax with their expectations of decency and good work (which is what good media should be) are responsible, who continue to click their tongues when something is a bit too offensive, but not changing the channel and who change their political opinions without doing the best they can to find, and then decide on, the best information.

Mayor Ford has asked for Torontonians to tell him what they want…he’s promised to lend a listening ear.  He might even listen too well, jumping into the news because some guy apparently told him that he didn’t like the plastic grocery bag fee.  Notice anything funny about that link?  Check again?  Nope?  Well then I’m sorry, you’ve missed my point.  Check out this article.  I think there’s issues with both articles…but I read them both.  Would you have normally?

This environment, at least the one Mayor Ford is creating by asking for engagement, is what democracy is all about.  We need Rob Ford, Denzill Minan-Wong, Adam Vaughan, and all our councillors…as well as the media that reports on them…to pick up some big shovels..

We need them to plow through the layers of stories commenting on the place of cycling in cities and get back to ensuring that Torontonians can leave their houses alive with an expectation that their neighbors, colleagues, and friends they haven’t met yet care about them getting to their destination alive as well.  Not choosing to be pro-cyclist with regards to the bike lanes means that you are taking full responsibility for the collisions that happen in the future that this system can prevent now.

Please PLEASE email council, Rob Ford, your councillor, and especially pwic@toronto.ca (the Public Works and INfrastructure Committee), and cc info@bikeunion.to and demand that we stop talking about who gets where faster and we start helping our friends we haven’t met yet to get where they need to alive.

This, like snow, is a great issue to take outside of politics.  Use it instead to make the guy that lives next door your neighbor.  I lived in Tucson for a summer and got enough of a sense of the “system” in place there to get have a bit of  an idea of the challenges and interests that Sheriff Clarence Dupnik was clearly asking for help with in his press statement.  I suspect that there are a lot of people in Tucson soul searching as words suddenly seem to actually affect actions and thoughts again…at least for today.  Let’s get ourselves some shovel, say hello to the people we share this city with, talk, and build new separated bike lanes.


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car owner = tax payer?

January 2, 2011

Yesterday, Mayor Ford posted this to his twitter account (@ToMayorFord)

There are several major problems with this announcement…the main one being that somehow “taxpayer” is synonymous with “car owner:” for our new mayor.  None of the $64M in savings will go to non car owners including those residents depending on the TTC for their transportation, or on their own self-generated, carbon free volition through walking, roller blading, or cycling.  While this may just be poorly thought out semantics, it seems a dangerous and slippery slope.

In addition to the thousands of Bike Riding PInkos who won’t be benefitting at all from this new policy, there are thousands more whose income levels don’t allow for them to own a money and gas-guzzling car.  This change will only benefit the lower middle class on up to the super rich.  It seems safe to assume that the removal of this fee will also benefit a higher proportion of people in the inner suburb ring that voted for Ford (see map below) where owning a car is a near requirement of life as transit service is less and distance to most destinations greater than for those who predominantly did not vote for Ford who live downtown.  This might appear at first to be politics as usual, playing to supporters but the effects of $64M in revenue being removed from the city makes Ford’s promise not to reduce services all the more unlikely.

The “savings” represents nearly 20% of the $300M 2010 budget surplus (Toronto Star on the Surplus) and exceeds the $60M TTC surplus, effectively handing money from transit users to car owners in a move that goes against modern environmentally friendly common sense.  In a related New Year’s news story, the Toronto Library is facing service cuts (Toronto Star on Proposed Library Service Cuts).  Certainly the librarians whose jobs will be lost, as well the avid readers who enjoy access to free knowledge that for millennia has been a hallmark of great societies, could find a use for the $64M that the city has just taken from itself.

Interestingly, there are no proposed cuts to libraries in the areas where Ford’s support base reside.  They will again only affect downtown, including the Urban Affairs branch consisting of thousands of books and theses on how best to run a city.  Irony run amok.

All of this combined begs the question: where is our city?  Is it the downtown core with its culture, arts, transit, professional sports, and the density of an extremely diverse group of people who through their daily walks and rides interact and converse with each other?  Or is it the Pro-Ford horseshoe made up of a higher percentage of car owners who, through no fault of their own, are isolated from many of the effects that result from policy at City Hall?

In research released recently by U of T professor David Hulchanski and reported by Steve LaFleur on NewGeography.com,, Toronto’s wealth distribution has inverted to the downtown core since the 1970’s (Oil Crisis, anyone?).  The world’s top talent and heroes of tomorrow no longer want sprawling houses located along major freeways…they want livable cities (as reflected in the map below)and they are taking their high earning power back to densely populated urban areas.  While the ability to connect from anywhere continues to expand and change, the human need to be around other people is getting stronger as well..  This is a trend reflective of how cities in the rest of the world work.

If Mayor Ford really wants to build subways (CTV on Transit City), the $64M he has just taken away from city taxpayers and given to car owners could have been a great start in overcoming the broken contracts that will result from his plan to kill Transit City.  Amalgamation made Toronto a bigger city, a more populous city, and a city with much much larger coffers because of that increase.  Sharing those funds equally amongst the parts of the city is critical for it’s success but so is making all residents of that area feel like they are part of the same, collective city through shared spaces, shared connections, and the ability for all residents to reach all parts of the city efficiently.  It looks like we have much work ahead to reach that point.