Shelley Fralic had a column on the Sun‘s website last week that’s such a confused tangle of bad arguments, I honestly don’t know which threads to pick at first.  Let me pass over her puzzling argument that grown-ups are in fact not responsible for the consequences of their own choices when we’re talking about the environmental consequences of their choices of where to live.  Instead, let me focus on something more recognizably about policy.  I want to look at Fralic’s conclusion that there’s just no resolution to the debate between those who want more dense, walkable, transit-oriented communities, and those who like the suburbs.

Fralic rightly points out that a lot of people live in the suburbs because they can’t afford to live in the city.  It’s a fair point.  More people want to live in the city than can afford to.  That’s because places to live in dense, walkable neighbourhoods with good transit are undersupplied, so the demand pushes up their prices.  She also asks, “Who doesn’t want less pollution and congestion? Who wouldn’t like a bike-friendly metropolis that nurtures pavement peace instead of road rage?”  All good questions.  So isn’t the solution to set about making our region denser, more walkable, more bikable, and more accessible by transit?

Apparently not.  Quoth Fralic:

While cyclists weave about town (accounting, according to studies, for about three per cent of “urban” trips), saying they want to be part of traffic but not acting like it, and carrying shoulder chips that grow in direct proportion to their eco-smugness, their fossil-fuelled nemeses are, for the most part, sticking to their gas guzzlers.

A therapist, at this point, might suggest a reality check.

This isn’t Europe, where biking is built into the infrastructure, where cities are dense and transit-rich, where commuting distances are nothing like that between Abbotsford and UBC.

No, this most certainly isn’t Europe.  In fact, cyclists know this isn’t Europe.  That’s why they want European-style bike infrastructure — because most of the infrastructure they have now is decidedly crappier than that.  And the suburbs aren’t the city.  That’s why transit users therewant more buses with dedicated lanes — because often what they have now is decidedly crappier than that.  Notice the perfect circularity of Fralic’s point here:  People who want to build more bikable, transit-oriented communities are wrong.  Why are they wrong?  Because we don’t have very bikable or transit-oriented communities.  Huh?  That makes no sense.

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