The ‘bikelash’ is real: What the war between bikes and cars says about us

By Brett Bubbers, The Globe and Mail, August 22, 2019

(...)More than 10.5 million people in Canada – nearly a third of the population – commute to work, alone, by car. The number of people whose drive to work takes an hour or more is rising, too. Worse, Statistics Canada found that long commutes by car can have a negative impact on commuters’ health, safety and personal finances, and may also put a strain on family relationships. Every year, the number of vehicles on the roads increases.

We are going to need to find alternatives – not necessarily to replace the commuter car, but at least to augment it. What exactly those alternatives could be is the trillion-dollar question. Uber and Lyft are vying for a piece of that market; so are Segways, hoverboards, e-scooters and all manner of strange e-devices. Public transit is overdue for massive upgrades and expansions. Car-sharing services want in on the action, too. Automakers are not going quietly into the night, partnering with high-tech mobility startups while investing in self-driving and electric technologies.

(...)Across the country, there is a loud backlash against new cycling infrastructure projects – a “bikelash,” if you will – despite widespread support for safer cycling infrastructure. Among non-cyclists in Toronto, 81 per cent are in favour of a safer cycling network, according to a 2016 poll commissioned by Evergreen, a Toronto-based non-profit that encourages urban sustainability. It’s easy to agree that safer streets are a worthy goal in the abstract, but when it comes to laying down new bike lanes on a busy roads near you, the bikelash gets real, fast. Here is what that looks like in the country’s three largest metropolitan areas.

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