Oh dear. If Toronto’s much put upon drivers didn’t have enough to deal with, now they must worry about uppity BMXers.
Sunnyside Bike Park, which recently opened east of Ellis Ave. between Lake Shore Blvd. and the Gardiner Expressway, has received rave reviews from users — mainly teenage boys — but according to the Star’s esteemed Wheels editor and Motor Sport Hall of Fame inductee, Norris McDonald, the new facility is guaranteed to make a bad driving situation even worse.
“Visual distractions,” McDonald wrote last weekend, “are very dangerous because no matter how many times they are told not to, drivers will always take a gander and that . . . can create serious problems.”
That must be why whole stretches of our major highways are either lined with enormous barriers or built up with the most nondescript buildings imaginable. All that rear-lotting on the broad avenues of the postwar city is also for their benefit. Anything more interesting would be unnecessarily hard on drivers.
Lest drivers find themselves distracted, which, being human is beyond their control, the space through which they move should be pleasant but not overly so. Certainly it should not be exciting or engaging. Anything that catches the eye should be eliminated wherever possible.
McDonald didn’t address the issue of the countless billboards — digital, neon, LED, static and moving — that fill the drivers’ every view. It’s clear, however, that in the interests of vehicular safety they should go.
So what about that extraordinary white marble Hindu temple on the east side of Highway 400? Or the spectacular Ismaili Centre and Aga Khan Museum visible from the Don Valley Parkway at Eglinton? And how did all those condos next to the Gardiner get built — the ones with living rooms overlooking the highway?
They offer nothing but death, destruction and gridlock. These sorts of things should never have been allowed. Surely they could have been put somewhere out of view, on some hidden site where few would have noticed?
Of course, from a driver’s perspective the world is a place where the least distraction is welcome. As long as it’s not other cars, drivers are happy for any diversion, be it an accident, a truck with a flat tire, police activity or a beeping cell phone. Police say distracted driving happens more often now than drunk driving; so the last thing the city’s beleaguered drivers need is a biker park within view.
Perhaps it’s time city planners insist that invisibility be enshrined as a guiding principle for all future development. That would fit in nicely with the department’s fear of heights, architectural excellence and anything that isn’t a generic glass tower or a concrete box. In the name of driver safety, planners should insist that space surrounding new buildings be set aside as designated zones of emptiness, inactivity, blandness and/or strategically placed barriers.
That’s the sort of thing Toronto planners could get enthusiastic about. Look how successful that model has been in the inner suburbs. Besides, anything less would be irresponsible and unfair to drivers.
As McDonald points out, “drivers can’t help themselves . . .”
That’s also why bikes and pedestrians in general should be kept off the streets; they are distracting and make getting around unnecessarily difficult. After all, kids can ride their bikes pretty well anywhere. Cars, alas, are restricted to the roads.
Is it any wonder congestion has become such a pressing issue in Toronto? The way drivers are treated in this ungrateful burg, you’d think congestion was their fault. Whoever bears the blame, it’s certainly not them.