Making Up Facts: Not just for mayors any more

August 2, 2011

Making Shit Up is the new standard for getting things done in Toronto. If you’ve got an issue, there’s no need for things like research or facts. You can just make up claims, and apparently many media outlets will print them, regardless of any actual connections to reality.

First, we have this letter to the editor clamoring for bicycle licensing:

My fine for causing an accident like that to Ms Nedobi would be steep, both monetary and point-wise. My insurance would increase and I would have to compensate the victim, yet the cyclists get away with minor conviction, if any.

This is particularly funny because The Star just ran an article a month ago about how careless driving penalties are lightweight whether you’re in a car or on a bike. Remember: The Highway Traffic Act applies equally to cars and bicycles in most cases.

A week before, The Star published a letter complaining about the soon-to-be-removed Jarvis bike lanes:

I live on Jarvis St. and, legally, Wheel-Trans buses can’t stop to pick up the handicapped people who live in our building, and the post office van can’t stop to drop off our mail. … But it is enforced against taxi drivers, couriers, airline limousines and others who can’t stop to pick us up or deliver messages or packages.

A casual look at the City of Toronto by-laws regarding bike lanes (PDF) tells us that isn’t entirely true. You can stop your motor vehicle in a bike lane for a number of reasons, including:

(4) Loading or unloading of a person with a disability, while actively engaged in doing so;
(5) Operating a school bus while actively engaged in picking up or dropping off school children; or
(6) Operating a taxicab while actively engaged in loading or unloading of passengers.

City vehicles – such as the TTC and Wheel-Trans – are also exempt. Delivery trucks are technically out of luck, but that’s never stopped them from parking in bike lanes. For that matter, a convenient driveway or side street has never stopped a delivery truck from parking in a bike lane, either.

I know that Letters to the Editor count as “opinion”, but surely someone should be checking basic facts before printing them?

Lastly, we have a made-up non-sequitor from the Sun’s Joe Warmington. While complaining about recurring violence at Caribana, he writes:

If a motorist had killed a cyclist at the same spot on Lake Shore Blvd., where the latest shooting took place, you know there would be repercussions. A new traffic light? New speed limits? More bike helmet rules? A safety blitz?

I’m not sure why he chose to mix up gun violence and cycling fatalities. It might interest Warmington to know that a cyclist was killed on Lake Shore last September. If there were any “repercussions” to the collision, they weren’t reported.

In fact, I can’t think of any cycling fatalities that led to any sort of changes being made to infrastructure or laws. In the late 1990s, there was a Coroner’s Report in response to several fatalities; very little has happened since. The common response to pedestrian or cyclist fatalities is a week-long safety blitz – often targetting the road users who are getting hit – followed by absolutely nothing whatsoever.