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We, the Motorcycles, Are Here to Save Toronto
To prove we mean business, we'll begin by easing your traffic apocalypse (but first, you must do everything we say - and don't worry, it won't cost you a dime)
by the motorcycles of http://EatSleepRIDE.com
On behalf of thousands of motorcycles in Toronto and Ontario, we hereby state our case on issues of concern to all citizens, including traffic flow, public safety, road conditions, pollution, insurance costs and others that will surprise many car drivers and quite likely make them want to abandon their cages and join us.
Toronto the Good is fast becoming one of the great congested cities of the world. Population density is increasing crazily while expansion of roads and public transit has all but stalled. Radical new solutions must now be entertained or soon no one in town will be going anywhere fast. The city and the province need to actively support and promote motorcycles and our riders, not merely tolerate or outright ignore us, as they currently do.
First, a declaration: That safe and responsible motorcycle riding (except maybe when no one's looking) is a necessary component of any viable municipal and provincial traffic management strategy.
Since we only take up about Â½ to Â¼ the space of most cars, the mere fact of our existence and use reduces traffic congestion. Also, a motorcycle is significantly lighter than a car, resulting in far less destruction to roads (driven down Dufferin lately? We didn't do that). Less pavement damage means lower repair costs to the city, province and the humans who pay for them.
Even drool-worthy motorcycles cost far less than half what a typical fancy car does - in purchase price, fuel consumption and operation. Motorcycles burn less fuel per mile travelled, producing far less emissions per person transported than cars do, thus being an effective and exhilarating way to reduce smog (unless we're talking about the few remaining two-strokes, which should nevertheless be given classic vehicle status and revered by all).
Motorbikes are significantly more enjoyable to drive than cars. Happy drivers are better, safer drivers. You don't see motorcyclists giving each other the finger or running people off the road (except at championship races, and we find it sexy when you fight over us).
We acknowledge that winter is a problem for motorcycles - and we're working on it (sheet-metal screws in tires for traction, heated gloves, jackets and suits are only the beginning). Ontario weather is conducive to riding at least 6-8 months a year. And yet, our owners are forced by insurance companies (which we understand just adore money) to pay for one year at a go, and get penalized for cancelling prior to that full year elapsing. That, along with several other asinine and unjustifiable extra charges, counts as a grave injustice, and one we intend on righting.
Motorcycling is safer than the media would have you believe. Last year, more people in Ontario died from making love incorrectly than from motorcycle accidents. Motorcycling will become much safer when regulations change to support motorcycle ridership and in other areas, such as province-wide access to HOV lanes for single and two-up riders.
Lane splitting (aka filtering) for motorcycles works. It permits riders to travel in-between and around stationary and slow-moving vehicles, as well as on the road shoulder in times of traffic congestion. It is an effective way to alleviate gridlock, while making the most of the motorcycle's maneuverability. Lane splitting has been applied with great success in California and the UK to reduce congestion and speed traffic flow. If more people rode bikes and filtering became the norm, all road users would get where they're going faster. In tandem with this, car/truck/bus drivers would need to be educated on the contribution filtering represents to their own interests, and actively encouraged to let motorbikes filter through during congestion.
Motorcycles save lives and enhance commerce. In Switzerland, paramedics use dual-sport (road and offroad-capable) bikes to arrive at emergencies to treat patients well ahead of larger emergency vehicles. In Paris, Milan and Rome, motorcycle taxis are a common convenience, zooming people and executives to their destinations faster. Why is Toronto not taking advantage of this great innovation in public safety and entrepreneurism enhancement?
Rider rip-offs must end. We demand a reduction in road and other taxes for motorbike owners. Riders pay disproportionately more than other vehicles considering that bikes inflict significantly less road damage - and take up less space - than trucks and cars do. Legislators must also create incentives for people to buy bikes and ride more, while attacking unfair costs aimed at riders. While it's a start that motorcyclists enjoy free on-street (Green P) parking in T.O. (we fit four bikes to one car), there are still many outrages afoot… insurance, to name a biggy. It is unregulated and unmonitored in Ontario and is, as a result, unreasonable and unfair to riders. As well, other incentives (no HST, for starters) are needed to encourage the purchase of top-quality safety gear by all riders. Also, we demand mandatory attendance at riding schools for learners, such that no willfully ignorant riders ever get a chance to lift a leg over us.
Improved road quality. Poorly patched areas, potholes, washboard, ruts, grooves and sunken access covers on roads are highly dangerous for motorcyclists, especially novices (we suspect that no other class of driver cares much for them either).
Starting in 2012, a new generation of sophisticated, powerful and 'car-quiet' electric motorcycles - which are fully highway-capable and can travel long distances on one charge - will enter the marketplace. For the motorcycle, this will usher in la belle epoch (yes, we speak both official languages - plus Italian, German, Japanese, and a bunch of others - hell, even American). What this means is: Those of you who've been too scared, annoyed (we forgive you) or confused to use us because of our vroom-vroom, excessive vibration, or difficulty in kick-starting while wearing stilettos, will soon be able to turn a key, shoulder check and ride off like the wind - and a whole new subset of riders will be hitting the road. The positive effects of next-gen electric bikes on traffic flow, neighbour-to-neighbour relations, urban peace and good order, as well as greenhouse gas emissions will be massive, rapidly felt and unprecedented in motorcycles' long and (proudly) checkered history.
The Grand Valediction
Motorcycling has been identified by the Ontario Government as a 'Top 10 Sport' in the province, and a means of drawing tourists here (who knew that Ontario spends $5 million annually on motorcycle tourism promotion to Ontario?) Thus, it is high time to take action and make motorcycling attractive to locals as well, by positioning it as the smart alternative to the almighty car - an idea whose time has come, and is now about to be passed, by motorcycles, in a blaze of practicality, energy efficiency and adrenaline.
**Motorcycles are the only inexpensive, immediate and implementable solution to Toronto's gridlock. Citizens and government need only shed a few stereotypes about us, and have the courage to create change. **