The Folly of Rocco Rossi

Rocco Rossi seems to be a pretty smart guy. When you see him in debates, interviews, and speeches, he’s articulate, intelligent, and passionate. So it’s hard to understand why he’s running the most ridiculous mayoral campaign in a race that already has Rob Ford being Rob Ford.

When Rossi declared he was running for mayor, no one knew who he was. But he’d worked with successful businesses,  the Liberal party and several charities, which might lead one to believe he’d be a qualified, possibly left-of-centre candidate for mayor.

But one of Rossi’s first announcements was condemning the Jarvis Bike Lanes, which certainly put him on my bad side. Not merely the opposition to the Jarvis lanes in particular, but the idea that bike lanes should be banned from all major streets, because they add to congestion of real traffic – that is to say, automobiles. Despite regularly proclaiming himself a cyclist, Rossi couldn’t grasp the idea that cyclists like arterials for the same reason drivers do: Roads like Jarvis get you where you want to go quickly and efficiently, unlike winding, stopping-and-starting side streets.

Rossi nonetheless called the plan sheer madness, predicting biblically chaotic congestion and gridlock that has yet to appear. But Rossi’s opposition to bike lanes wasn’t just about traffic congestion. No, the Jarvis bicycle lanes are an affront to democracy itself. He never explained exactly why the decision of an elected council a year and a half before an election is “undemocratic”, but redefining the nature of democracy turned out to be a big plank in his platform.

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