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MTV News Impact – Vicious Cycle 17

MTV News Impact - Vicious Cycle

Photo courtesy of MTV News

Earlier this week, I was invited to participate in the filming of an MTV News’ Impact television special called “Vicious Cycle” – which asked whether Cyclists and Drivers can share the road.

The show featured 4 panellists: A bicycle courier, 2 car commuters and a University student bicycle commuter.

I was in the audience along with the former Director of Communications & Events and Founding Executive Director of the Toronto Cyclists Union – Yvonne Bambrick.

Although the title of the show is controversial and could be interpreted as perpetuating negativity towards bicyclists, the discussion between the audience and the panel was mostly constructive and hopefully a positive exercise to show drivers the bicyclist perspective, and to show bicyclists the driver’s perspective.

After listening to several panellists talk about how nothing will ever improve in Toronto because we can’t afford proper bicycle infrastructure, or because it will cause too much congestion for motorists, I had to bite my tongue.

When I was given the opportunity to retort, I pointed out that New York City has accomplished an amazing 320km of bicycle lanes in just 3 years. And all of it happened under a conservative Mayor. I pointed out that New York’s mayor has a vision that includes people other than just drivers – something we can’t really say here in Toronto.

Proper bike infrastructure costs only a fraction of what automobile infrastructure or public transportation costs to build – and it takes very little space. The world didn’t end when they took a very small amount of space away from motorists in New York to share the public space with bicyclists.

As a result, the number of bicyclists in New York has been increasing each year – relieving congestion on the streets and easing the burden on the subway system.

Proper bicycle infrastructure and traffic signals also helps to make bicyclists more predictable in busy traffic – reducing the opportunities for conflict. Thus it not only helps to get more people using bicycles, it helps to ease the tension between road users.

MTV News Impact’s “Vicious Cycle” will air Sunday November 21st at 6PM EST and again at 8:30PM. It will also be posted online on the MTV website.

James D. Schwartz is the editor of The Urban Country. You can contact James at james.schwartz@theurbancountry.com.

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  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18235513785018726474 PaddyAnne

    Hi, thanks for the info, I will make sure to watch Vicious Cycle.

  • http://kimharding.net/blog/?cat=9 Kim

    Why shouldn’t bicycles be used as transport? What is really needed is to get drivers to accept responsibility for their actions and not to blame the victims if they (the drivers) make a mistake.

  • Anonymous

    - Bicycles take up a fraction of the road space a car does.

    - Bicycles don’t ever create ‘jams’ and it is easy to manoeuvre a bicycle through one.

    - You can fit 10 bicycles into the space for one carpark. Space that should be given back to people.

    - They do almost no damage to the road surface.

    - People can cycle together in a group and chat… and then all go their separate ways. You can’t do that if you’re all in a car.

    - Bicycles are quiet!

    Bicycle riders are not really ‘equal’ to cars. A bicycle rider will always come off second best in a collision. Laws and infrastructure to protect the vulnerable are much needed, whether you ride on the road or a bikeway.

    I’ve always thought of bicycles as fast pedestrians, not slow cars. We don’t make pedestrians walk on the road in ‘painted lanes’ with cars so what is so wrong with providing a safe place for bicycles to ride without having to worry about getting hit? A painted lane in the gutter (with diesel, glass and other detritus) is not the place to be. If my mother doesn’t feel safe then there is something wrong.

    It is high time that cities start planning to improve the flow of people, not cars. We will have much more livable cities and suburbs if we do. Cars have to become the least convenient form of transport for short journeys (ie. <10km) if we are going to make any difference.

    Cheers,

    Dr Paul Martin
    Brisbane, Australia

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04454437680686627778 James D. Schwartz

    Kim, I loved the article comparing the Taliban burqas to bicycle safety. Thanks for sharing.

    Dr. Paul, great points all around. I wish more people viewed bicycle safety as a fundamental right on our streets, but we are just too entrenched in our car culture for that to be a common view.

    Hopefully our advocacy will help shift our society to think for the future instead of the short-sighted thinking that got us where we are now.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15589492356827998591 Ryan

    I just finished watching it now.

    I actually thought yourself and Yvonne did a great job at representing a cyclist such as myself. Just the average commuter.

    I was a little disappointed with how much attention they paid to messengers.
    Messengers and commuters are two different breeds.

    The Post and motorist guy came off as being quite level headed which was nice.

    Quite impressed that they even had such a show!

  • Anonymous

    I started watching this interested and then, they showed the clip of the student bicyclist riding without a HELMET. I do not understand why people even get on the street without one, it makes no sense. After watching that I felt like “wow mvt, you bring someone onto to your cycling panel who doesn’t bother to wear a helmet and have him talk about bike safety.”

  • Spoonifur

    I watched the show and I was so appalled by the guy almost yelling at the cab driver. That was so rude! The cabbie was trying to side with them, he’s on the road all day, of course he knows about bikers. He probably has to avoid hitting a few every time he drives. He doesn’t WANT to hit somebody, he doesn’t want to get fired, he does have a responsibility to the road, and to his passenger.

    That was just the weirdest part of the show and I’m shocked nobody stood to the defense of the cab driver. “I don’t have a license, so I can’t do that” and yet he argued with the cab driver for not biking. Ridiculous. I liked the ending message to the show, that people just need to calm down.

  • Spoonifur

    I watched the show and I was so appalled by the guy almost yelling at the cab driver. That was so rude! The cabbie was trying to side with them, he’s on the road all day, of course he knows about bikers. He probably has to avoid hitting a few every time he drives. He doesn’t WANT to hit somebody, he doesn’t want to get fired, he does have a responsibility to the road, and to his passenger.

    That was just the weirdest part of the show and I’m shocked nobody stood to the defense of the cab driver. “I don’t have a license, so I can’t do that” and yet he argued with the cab driver for not biking. Ridiculous. I liked the ending message to the show, that people just need to calm down.

  • Anonymous

    …the courier wasnt wearing a helmut either. and when i saw yvonne bambrick riding home after the show, she wasn’t wearing one either. just saying.

    • http://www.theurbancountry.com James Schwartz

      And?

      • Anonymous

        i just dont think that helmet wearing should be automatically associated with credibility… people choose to and choose not to wear helmets for many different reasons.

        while this special was overly-simple, i thought the university kid had the best stuff to say out of all the panelists.

        that being said, the panelists they chose were a bit odd. it would have been nice to have someone from the bike union or someone more formally involved in bike politics to have been up there.

        • http://www.theurbancountry.com James Schwartz

          Oh, I hadn’t realized you were responding to another comment :) Makes sense now in context. Agreed that wearing a helmet shouldn’t automatically associate with credibility.

  • Anonymous

    …the courier wasnt wearing a helmut either. and when i saw yvonne bambrick riding home after the show, she wasn’t wearing one either. just saying.

  • http://www.theurbancountry.com/ James Schwartz

    And?

  • Anonymous

    i just dont think that helmet wearing should be automatically associated with credibility… people choose to and choose not to wear helmets for many different reasons.

    while this special was overly-simple, i thought the university kid had the best stuff to say out of all the panelists.

    that being said, the panelists they chose were a bit odd. it would have been nice to have someone from the bike union or someone more formally involved in bike politics to have been up there.

  • http://www.theurbancountry.com/ James Schwartz

    Oh, I hadn’t realized you were responding to another comment :) Makes sense now in context. Agreed that wearing a helmet shouldn’t automatically associate with credibility.

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