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Rob Ford’s Greatest Hits

Ford wipes sweat from his brow during the judicial hearing that found him guilty of a conflict of interest. Photo: Edmonton Journal

Rob Ford, internationally renowned nemesis of the livable streets movement, was removed from his post as mayor of Toronto today after being found guilty of violating local ethics laws. Ford will have an opportunity to appeal the ruling.

As villains go, Ford was actually sort of ideal: brash, unthinking, and prone to embarrassing himself. The Canadian press dubbed him “Toronto’s clown mayor.” When he wasn’t finding ways to undermine the city’s plans for surface transit and bikeways, he was finding new and inventive ways to star in the wrong kind of viral YouTube videos.

There’s a chance Ford’s appeal will succeed and he’ll end up back in the mayor’s office. But today, we’re enjoying the moment and paying tribute to Rob Ford with this retrospective of his most memorable antics.

#1. “Cyclists are a pain in the ass”

Ford made headlines as a mayoral candidate and City Council member when he said that “cyclists are a pain in the ass” and they should ride on the sidewalk. That Ford never even seemed to consider that this would inconvenience pedestrians as well as cyclists encapsulated his “cars above all” philosophy.

 

After he was elected, Ford made good on his promise to end the “war on the car” by removing bike lanes, which attracted international attention to the city for all the wrong reasons and prompted some memorable acts of civil disobedience.

Read more…

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Livable Streets Heroes Block Rob Ford’s Removal of Toronto Bike Lane

Photo: Toronto Star

Hats off to Steve Fisher, Wayne Scott and others who took to the streets today to stop the removal of bike lanes in Toronto.

The Toronto Star reports that Fisher and Scott were part of a sit-in to save the Jarvis Street bike lane, which workers are attempting to erase under orders from Mayor Rob Ford, who is on a mission to reverse street safety measures put in place by his predecessor David Miller.

“I don’t believe the Jarvis bike lanes should be removed,” said Fisher. “Before the lanes were involved I was hit twice by cars.”

A street crew worked around Fisher only to encounter other protestors. Contractors eventually stopped work this afternoon. Both parties are planning to return tomorrow.

Hopefully it won’t come to this, but Toronto’s setting a good precedent for civil disobedience if New York elects its own Rob Ford next year.

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Time-Lapse Scrambling in Toronto


Scramble from Sam Javanrouh on Vimeo.

Here is a mesmerizing time-lapse video from Spacing Toronto and photoblogger Sam Javanrouh. The clip shows traffic moving through Toronto's pedestrian scramble -- a.k.a. priority crossing, a.k.a. Barnes Dance -- installed at Yonge and Dundas Streets last August.

There's no music, so you'll need your own soundtrack. We suggest the Beta Band's "B + A"

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Eyes on the Street: Parking Density in Toronto

This Toronto bike rack is a perfect illustration of how curbside parking sucks up valuable street space. Here, six cyclists are able to park in an area normally taken by one motorist, and since the rack was installed on the street, rather than on the sidewalk, pedestrians are unimpeded.

Photo: Spacing Toronto

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Toronto Cops Pull Over a Pedal-Powered ’86 Buick

Artist Michel de Broin removed the engine, suspension, transmission and electrical system from his 1986 Buick Regal. He then equipped it with 4 independent pedal and gear mechanisms transforming his old Buick into the "Self Propulsion Car." De Broin's piece was shown here in New York City back in 2005 at an Exit Art exhibition entitled "Traffic".

In this video (via BlogTO), a perplexed Toronto police officer pulled the car over during a test drive. On the artist's website, you can also see a video of the "Self Propulsion Car" in action on the streets of Hell's Kitchen.

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Toronto Politician on Bike Lanes and the Future of Cycling

Toronto City Council member Glenn De Baeremaeker bicycles 26 miles each way to work at City Hall, all year round. Thirty-five minutes into his ride, De Baeremaeker finally reaches a bike lane. The Toronto Star profiles his ride:

He has clipped on his panniers, buckled his helmet and set off on an hour-long pant to his cluttered office in city hall, where he has become a powerful figure. He's chair of the city's works committee, which oversees all of Toronto's infrastructure, including its roads.

A growing number of councillors see cyclists less as large flies on their windshields and bicycles more as a clean, healthy and -- most importantly -- legitimate form of urban transportation.

"The political stars are aligned," says De Baeremaeker, who pulls up into his underground parking space at city hall on his 21-speed. "People's world view has changed," he says. "The future for cycling is very, very good."

Getting smashed by a truck or van is a big worry of De Baeremaeker's. That's probably because he was hit two winters ago. He had barely pedalled out of City Hall on his way home when someone opened a cab door without looking and sent him flying. He landed under the wheels of another taxi, which, thankfully, wasn't moving. If he had been in a bike lane, it wouldn't have happened. "Bike lanes aren't just a frill. They save people's lives," says De Baeremaeker.

Photo by Martino
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Mayor Says Toronto Will be North America’s Greenest City

toronto_bike_rack.jpg

Toronto Mayor David Miller vowed last week to make Toronto "the leading environmental city in North America." The Toronto Star reports:

Mayor David Miller is pledging to slash the city's greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent by 2020 and a whopping 80 per cent by 2050.

Miller and city council will unveil a plan today that sets ambitious targets for reducing emissions that lead to climate change, increasing so-called green energy usage and encouraging retrofitting of city homes and businesses to make them more energy efficient.

Miller said the city could levy higher taxes against SUV owners than owners of hybrid vehicles. He has also talked about taxes on parking lots in areas that are well served by public transit, including the downtown core. "You need to make simple changes that encourage people to change their behaviour," he said. "We will be creative, and we will offer creative suggestions to Torontonians. Some will be radical."

Photo: William Self/Flickr