Brownstein the auto warrior

On the left: Heroes. On the right: Terrorists.

On the left: Heroes. On the right: Terrorists.

The Gazette’s Bill Brownstein is on a driver’s rights binge this week. On Monday, he was on CFCF talking about how the city was “held hostage” by the Tour de l’Île, and repeating the anti-cyclist talking points:

  • The Tour de l’Île shut down the city and prevented people from getting to hospitals
  • Why can’t the Tour de l’Île be held on the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve where it won’t bother anyone?
  • Cops never ticket cyclists and always ticket drivers
  • Drivers would like to walk and cycle everywhere, but it’s impossible in this city
  • Drivers are an oppressed majority, and having a handful of bike paths and Bixi stations scattered around the city is going way too far
  • Removable poles along bike paths are better than permanent concrete medians like we have on de Maisonneuve Blvd.

Of course, there are counter-arguments to all these. The tours’ routes were constructed to allow car traffic through wherever safely possible (and for crying out loud, it’s one weekend day a year), emergency vehicles were given priority, and holding it on another island would defeat the purpose of a Tour de l’Île, wouldn’t it?

When you consider how much space in this city is reserved solely for four-wheel transportation, and how many traffic rules are designed solely to prevent them from crashing into each other, you wonder if people who say drivers are oppressed aren’t on some crazy drug.

Sadly, Brownstein’s throwaway half-joking suggestion of a “car party” might very well come true if drivers’ limitless sense of entitlement continues to grow.

This tunnel under de Maisonneuve Blvd. will link Concordia's Hall and Library buildings with the Guy-Concordia metro station.

This tunnel under de Maisonneuve Blvd. will link Concordia's Hall and Library buildings with the Guy-Concordia metro station.

Today, in his newspaper column, Brownstein talks about the tunnel being constructed at Concordia’s downtown campus that would connect the two older buildings at de Maisonneuve and Mackay with the Guy-Concordia metro station (and, just as importantly, the two newer buildings):

Are you kidding me? The students can’t handle the two-block trek outside! Has this exercise really been worth it? Construction on that corner has done a marvellous job of crippling traffic for motorists and cyclists alike.

While this is true, consider what will happen once the tunnel is built. Students will no longer have to go outside to get between the metro and the Hall Building. They will no longer have to jaywalk across de Maisonneuve Blvd., and they’ll no longer be an annoying swarm for drivers to contend with on a daily basis. Not to mention how much easier it will be to transport equipment between buildings. This construction will actually be good for drivers.

Brownstein also talks about Old Montreal being closed to traffic and the horror that’s causing by forcing drivers to walk a couple of blocks to their overpriced restaurants overpriced hotels with their bags. (Bonus points if you notice the blatant hypocrisy here.)

Sorry Bill, you haven’t made a convert out of me.

CORRECTION (June 25): Brownstein was talking about Old Montreal hotels needing to send bellboys blocks away to pick up bags, not people needing to walk to overpriced restaurants. Fagstein regrets the error.

10 thoughts on “Brownstein the auto warrior

  1. Scott in Montreal

    That tunnel is way overdue. I remember my Concordia days and all the times I had to haul stuff around in snowstorms, dodging cars at these two very busy intersections. Diverting hundreds (thousands?) of pedestrians from this route to the underground is just common sense. It should improve both traffic flow and safety. I wonder what Mr. Brownstein’s problem is.

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  2. Beeg

    That would violate the terms of his Gazette contract. Somewhere Jack Todd is shaking his fist and wishing he had written this first. Sad to think that paper used to boast Michael Farber AND Jeff Blair.

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  3. Jean Naimard

    Thanks for reminding me that The Gazoo is a douchebag newspaper.
    Let’s tackle the points:
     

    The Tour de l’Île shut down the city and prevented people from getting to hospitals

    So do the mighty traffic jams, courtesy of the suburban ½¼¤™¼@ who will ride alone in their jalopies.

    Why can’t the Tour de l’Île be held on the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve where it won’t bother anyone?

    Because the people in the city need to be reminded that there is a tour de l’île?

    Cops never ticket cyclists and always ticket drivers

    Why would they? Tickets for bikes are on the order of $35, about a full order of magnitude below cars’ tickets. The amount of revenue generated when the cop gets his fat arse out of his char à bœufs to write the ticket will not cover the food required to resplenish the number of calories burned while writing the ticket!

    Drivers would like to walk and cycle everywhere, but it’s impossible in this city

    ¿DUH? Drivers can walk and cycle everywhere, except maybe on the clogged highways (which is understandable, the sight of bicycles going faster than the clogged traffic would infuriate drivers, and they would scratch the paint of their beautiful cars on those pesky bicycles).

    Drivers are an oppressed majority, and having a handful of bike paths and Bixi stations scattered around the city is going way too far

    Er, no. There are far less automobiles than there are people, ergo drivers are an oppressive minority.

    Removable poles along bike paths are better than permanent concrete medians like we have on de Maisonneuve Blvd.

    If they truly were (wich isn’t the case), they would be used instead of medians.

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  4. Scott in Montreal

    You said it Beeg. I also miss Joe Fiorito. The only one left with much writing skill is Freed, and he’s getting crankier as time goes on too. Boone is in the same category, actually, but is a lazier journalist IMHO. MacPherson is better but kind of stale. Then there’s Mulroney’s personal windbag. Is L. Ian MacDonald still blathering on four days a week?

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  5. Maria Gatti

    At least Josh Freed isn’t anti-bicycle! If you miss Joe Fiorito (as do I) don’t forget to go over to the Toronto Star to read his always insightful little pieces.

    I hadn’t happened to see this pro-pollution screed; just as well as I’d have been to inclined to write in and suggest he simply gas himself rather than the rest of us.

    Don’t forget the Green Life writers Monique Beaudin and Michelle Lalonde, though sadly this pro-planet counterpoint remains tokenism at the Gazoo.

    And the tunnel makes absolute sense, and improves safety for all. Moreover some students use lockers and leave their heavy winter coats in one place (this at least was possible at Université de Montréal, where I studied, don’t know about Concordia downtown) – so they would not have to drag their heavy winter coats and boots around with them all day.

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  6. Marc-O

    I am mostly a cyclist and pedestrian, but I do have some issues with the Tour de l’Ile.

    Living (then) on Christophe-Colomb, I’ve seen the Tour la Nuit do wonders for my ears, as cars were forbidden to take this street for a few hours. However, taking a walk, I could see this came at the price of car chaos on all the neighboring streets. Drivers there would be noisier, angrier and somehow more reckless. You could of course blame the drivers for that, but I can somehow understand them, seeing their regular simple route diverted and lenghtened by, say, 60 to 90 minutes after being instructed to use the Metropolitain. This also make cycling on these neighboring streets quite more dangerous.

    Another one: The Velo-Boulot event, that took place in Parc Lafontaine, to encourage people to go to work on a bike, was stationned exactly on the bike lane on the Parc. This made this small part of the bike road much slower and dangerous, as many people would cross the lane here and there, annoying the hell out of, guess who, the people who ALREADY bike to work everyday.

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  7. JulieBob

    well, the tour de l’ile did block the bike lane north-south as it crossed st-joseph, so cyclists were also pissed off at the Tour, which does, after all, remain fervently true to the notion that “I’m on a bicycle and everyone else get the hell outa my way.” If only the Tour would use part of their hype (er, prestige?) to teach cyclists to stop at stop signs and red lights, and to ride on the correct side and direction of traffic. Oh, I dream too much! (fyi, I’m a cyclist nearly full-time with 3000 (safe!) kilometres so far this year)

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  8. Chris

    Marc-O, I live on Everett at Christophe-Colombe and all the traffic was diverted onto my street during the Tour du Nuit. It was chaos, pure chaos! My roommate and I entertained ourselves by just sitting on our balcony watching the cars go crazy and the poor traffic cop try to keep order.

    Reply

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