Recently I attended the annual general meeting of the Citizens for Safe Cycling. (The details of the event are on the CfSC website.) Several politicians were present. From the federal New Democratic Party (NDP) was local MP Paul Dewar. The NDP is considered a left-wing party. Also in attendance was local city counselor David Chernushenko. He is a former leadership contestant for the left-leaning Green Party of Canada. Yasir Naqvi of the provincial Liberal Party (a centrist party) was also in attendance. Neither Chernushenko or Naqvi spoke, but they did request that their presence (signifying support for cycling) be noted. No member of a Conservative (or other right-wing) party showed up. That’s too bad because riding a bike or supporting cycling should not be a left–right notion.
Former U.S President George W. Bush
I must say that I don’t really like all these left and right labels. We affix them to so many things in Canada and it’s really quite ridiculous. For example, if you like to eat granola you are left-wing. Steak and potatoes are for the right-wing crowd because they all must be meat-eaters. Vegetarians are obviously left-wing. If you hunt and drive a truck in Canada you must be right-wing. Unless of course you are a hunting, truck-driving union member. Then you must be a lefty. Do you like nature? Then you must be a lefty. Are you fond of guns and the military…obviously right-wing.
Current U.S. President Barack Obama
Recently, the left–right nonsense has become an issue with cycling here in Ottawa and elsewhere (such as Rob Ford’s Toronto) as well. Quite likely it is anywhere where cycling is on the increase and certain factions have begun to fear that their way of life is under threat. The cycling debate is creating an us-vs-them mentality and small minds inevitably want to lump all cyclists together as left-wing and automobile drivers as right-wing. Even our two major local papers have taken completely different lines on cycling. One is supportive of cycling (Ottawa Citizen) and one is very much against cycling (Ottawa Sun). I think as more and more people start cycling here and elsewhere we need to put aside these silly notions and just start to look at cycling as another form of transportation. Because that is what it is. Studies have shown that the number one reason people ride a bike is because it’s the most effective way of getting from A to B. Other benefits are usually noted, but “saving the planet” or thinking green are far down the list of why people ride bikes.
U.K. Conservative Party leader David Cameron
In so many countries riding a bike is simply seen as an efficient, inexpensive and fun activity. We need to embrace that idea here. Left or right…whichever, it’s just riding a bike.