Shadow of cyclist
Media playback is unsupported on your device

Cyclists accuse Toronto mayor of waging 'war on bikes'

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford cruised to victory a year-and-a-half ago pledging to end what he dubbed "the war on the car." He argued that bike lanes were taking away space for automobiles.

"And what I compare bike lanes to is swimming with the sharks. Sooner or later you're going to get bitten," said Ford speaking in 2010 as a member of the city council.

Now he is in power and Toronto hasn't just stopped putting in bike lanes; it has started removing some of them.

The city council did, however, also agree to upgrade existing bike lanes to physically separated traffic lanes, which are safer for cyclists.

Yet the shift in policy - and the tone of the debate - has angered the cycling community.

Fifteen years ago Bicycling Magazine named Toronto North America's best city for cycling. Now, Toronto is the bike collision capital of Canada, with more accidents per capita than any other major Canadian city.

Mr Ford refused repeated requests for an interview - but cyclists at a busy Toronto intersection were happy to share their thoughts with the BBC.

Video produced by Peter Murtaugh

  • 02 May 2012