There are too few bike lanes in this city, and too much danger in using the ones we have. You don't have to be Mike Layton to see that.
It feels like Toronto is using one of those stationary bikes everyone used in the 80s. How do we get the wheels on the ground?
I arrived at an answer the other night when I pulled up to a dinner party on my bicycle. My friends peppered me with insults: Would I like some crunchy granola for dinner? Had I stopped shaving my legs and armpits? Was I a full-fledged Maoist?
It dawned on me then that either my friends are a bunch of scumbags or cycling in Toronto has become too associated with left-wing politics. I think it's a little bit of both.
If we're going to get anywhere on two wheels, we need to ditch the politics of bicycles.
These are the politics Mayor Rob Ford and his deputy Doug Holyday thrive in. They've succeeded in branding riders as unsavoury radicals, the new squeegee kids, anarchists.
Their War on Cars was set up to divide the city and make bikers look like a minority, a protest bloc.
Many cyclists revel in this definition. They pretend they're the second coming of Nelson Mandela, righteously banging on the hoods of transgressing cars and screaming at pedestrians who step into a bike lane.
This is how Holyday wants them to behave.
I, too, played this role. I went to City Hall wearing my bike helmet to protest the castration of the Jarvis lanes. I hollered at cabs and bike lane obstacles. I wrote to the mayor. I tried my best to engage in the political process.
But why am I wasting my time? Instead of trying to change politics, where everyone's staked their ground, I'm going to focus instead on more fertile soil - attracting more cyclists to the roads for generations to come.
Rather than write to Holyday, I'm writing to Skrillex, the dubstep DJ young people idolize, to ask him to add a bicycle to his live show. Then I'm going to tweet to the makers of The Hunger Games, the book/movie series tweens are incessantly reading/watching, to request a bike sequence in the next instalment.
After that I'll donate my old bike to a charity. Teach all the neighbourhood children to ride. Write poems and rap songs about biking. Get a neck tattoo of a bike chain. Change my middle name to Gears.
Whatever I can to promote inclusion, to get people riding bikes.
Making cycling a political choice deters riders, but with bike thieves, potholes, streetcar tracks and non-existent lanes, Toronto has enough reasons not to ride a bike.
If we remove the politics and the right-left antagonism over cycling, it becomes a more welcoming endeavour. And the best way to get better bike lanes is to make pedalling to work or school every day the norm.
When the entire city is riding bikes, the only left and right are the turns.