Our News Media has clearly been pandering to the Public desire to “Go Green” by chasing down existing stories to support a more ecological point of view, yet what has it done to actually update our social views on Consumption and the prevailing Car Culture? In order to at least take a more productive personal view of our worsening traffic congestion problems, let’s try to put aside our presumed right to drive around in our already over-crowded urban centers in near-empty automobiles as solo occupants. Pausing for a moment to consider an alternative way of traveling, where instead of driving ourselves around in big empty cars and struggling to find parking at every stop, we instead saw ourselves enjoying the freedom of biking around our local destinations after piggy-backing on buses for the longer haul distances in between…and from there considering what other resources are available to feel the needs, currently being met with generally wasteful and problematic automobile traffic.
From a hypothetical point of view where essential items can be carried on our person or in panniers, and larger items or regular purchases could simply delivered through centralized services (as it was in the “good old days”?), Multi-Modal personal transportation could still be the best groundwork to lay for a much more smoothly running and sustainable Society. Perhaps the easiest and most affordable example of this type of thinking, is the recent installation of bike racks on buses, which seek to draw more people into the transit system, either by creating a larger “catchment” area for Ridership, or by encouraging Cyclists to cover longer distances with their bikes than they normally would on pedal power alone.
Unfortunately, even with only a modest 1 million dollar investment on the part of the TTC, some media pundits have still been quick to jump all over this to prove that nothing will satisfy everyone…and that bad news will continue to sell more papers, even if the “story” has to be inflated to draw enough negative attention to itself.
After a particularly one-sided and inflammatory article about bike racks on TTC buses, written by Don Peat and published in the ever-populist Toronto Sun, we’re once again reminded of how far some members the Press will go to stir up public sentiments into a contentious issue that will hopefully create online traffic if not actually selling Advertising…erm, ‘newspapers’. Most people are unconsciously aware of this approach within the more tabloid factions of the Mainstream Media, as these sources clearly prefer to propose controversy (bonefide or otherwise), and then inflate it with a biased and lop-sided “reporting”, rather than offering a balanced view of Reality…Much less actually being so bold and progressive as to point out some potential routes to resolution. Perhaps it’s up the dying breed of “Beat Reporters” to dig up positive angles, that aren’t readily available on newswires and Press Releases, and offer them up as beacons of hope. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be a realistic hope, since those news gathering resources are likely already stretched too thin as it is. So were left to either pick sides in the Media, or delude ourselves into believing that we’re being provided with adequately balanced views of any progressive subjects out there that are striving for greater visibility, via what we continue to hope are credible sources of information.
Considering reflexive Consumers and Commenters on such ad-driven pulp, perhaps we’re also reminded how much work still needs to be done to create a progressive and sustainable Society. One that is willing to take a more rationale outlook, ask the tough questions, and orient ourselves in the directions that will actually yield good results on the true bottom line. A bottom line that’s measured by our success as a species, rather than with numbers that measure individual value and acumen.
The Madding Crowd
First of all if you want to retain any faith in Humanity, you might not want to read the comments section of the article in question. Some people there have expressed their thoughts that the 2.1 million (shared between Metrolinx and the TTC) was too much money to lay down for some basic infrastructure to encourage future use of clean, multi-modal transporation. Basic infrastructure that will now be in place for decades. These myopic Commenters considered this long-term investment an abomination, compared to their more pressing short-term needs, yet none were so prescient as to suggest what 2 million dollars could have done to improve our roadways, or transit systems on it’s own. Perhaps people need to be reminded of just how cost inflated every single Public Service delivery mechanism is already, without wishing to throw another million dollars out the window on work that may or may not ever even be completed.
Other homicidal maniacs drew approving remarks from their ilk, by suggesting that bicycles had no place on city streets, and should not be bussed in from the suburbs to begin with. A few even suggested that it would be fun to scare Cyclists on the road with their car in exchange for being forced to share roadways with these 2-wheeled obstructions, to remind us all that the Toronto Sun obviously has no qualms about demonstrating the kind of readership that it panders to. It’s no wonder then, that we might have to take a long hard look at what’s wrong with our destructive automobile culture in general, before we can expect the News Media to better support alternative points of view. In fact, feel free to pop open this other look at how cars can teach us to be better people, if we can just stop treating them like rolling living rooms..
Greater than the Sum
As a result of this type of “journalism”, the city of Toronto is once again painted as some sort of creatively bankrupt icon for corporate hegemony. A cultural repository for nothing more than whatever recycled ideas can be constrained to revolving around politically correct business interests, much to the detriment of the true Human ingenuity that exists all around the periphery of Toronto’s cold financial core, and it’s subdivided satellite. Once again we’re being told of how Metro Toronto politicians should cater to the common denominator of automobile traffic, where only the acceptable solutions are the ones that don’t impact the car culture that is imported from the suburbs everyday. Perhaps the Sun is just clearly in touch with it’s key demographic, or wishes to promote and pander to an incensed market that has it’s inante frustrations whipped up to a lather by headlines that obviously serve to sell papers, rather than serve a greater good. Luckily, Toronto is greater than the sum of it’s parts where mMotorists, Pedestrians, and yes even those “whining left-wing Cyclists” need not be presented as being at constant odds with each other, and are all in fact components in a much larger societal system that could actually learn how to work better, if it doesn’t waste so much energy on serving it’s personal, and really rather self-interest
Of course, here on my own little soapbox at the center of an infinite BlogoSphere, I could be just as guilty of the same sensationalising the pandering proclivities displayed by “The Press” as I vent my own biased energies…The difference is that at least I’ll endeavor to finish this rant with what I’ll hope to be some constructive criticisms, and offer you not only a hopeful outlook, but also a Realistic one at that! Let’s start by burying and forgetting that article from the Toronto Sun, and seeing what can grow out of the composted rot.
On that note let’s take a Realistic View of what’s need to make bike racks work properly in the GTA