dandyARCHIVE: In the loop

In the loop

By “Scoop” Marinoni, Art Jerusha Ellis

~This article originally appeared in dandyhorse issue one, Summer 2008 ~

“Scoop!” boomed out of the phone. It was only 10:30 a.m. and she sounded like she was already on her fifth scotch. “Rumour has it Midweek Cycling are getting the run around at Centennial Park in Etobicoke, check it out!”

“Who should I talk to?” I asked. “Craig Fagan is the vice president of Midweek,” she hissed. “Do I have to do everything for you?”

“I’m on it.” I contacted my super secret source inside City Hall. “I don’t know about Midweek,” my source whispered into the phone. “But talk to Adriana Gomez and, of course, Cranky Man.” Adriana Gomez’s voicemail promised she would get right back to whoever was kind enough to leave a message. I left one. Cranky Man picked up on the first ring. “That cycling centre that Midweek wants is never going to happen,” his voice ripped out of the receiver. “The dog walkers and picnickers put the kibosh on that deal and the local councillor doesn’t support it.”

Finally, I got Craig Fagan from Midweek Cycling Club on the horn. “We want to build a world class cycling centre where we can train people how to ride in all sorts of competitive bike racing,” he began. “Where in Centennial Park are they going to put this?” I asked. “It’s not going to happen in Centennial Park,” he continued. “Was it because of the dog walkers?” I asked. “No!” “What about the local councillor?” I asked. “The City didn’t think it would be a good fit for the park, so now we are looking at Kingsville Park just below Old Mill Station." I thanked him for his time and hung up. He called back a few minutes later and added, “If you are going to write this story don’t make the City look bad, it might sour the deal.” I assured him I wouldn’t.

I downloaded a document from the City’s website that explained the plans for Centennial Park. It is to be cut up into seven distinct areas with plenty of parking. One of the design mandates was to separate passive and active sports, with a big emphasis on leisure activities, soccer and, of course, parking. But, apparently there was no room for competitive cycling in a park designed for competitive sports. I was about to put the story to rest when the phone rang. It was Adriana Gomez. “Centennial Park is being redesigned to make it more of a physical activity park. There were concerns about cycling not being a good fit, the joggers and picnickers didn’t like the idea. There were liability issues and the local councillor didn’t support it,” she said. “So if the local councillor doesn’t support the project, it won’t happen?” I asked, but again, I was cautioned. “Don’t say anything bad about this in your story because it might jeopardize the success of the cycling centre happening in a different park.”

I put down the phone and it dawned on me that Centennial Park could be a metaphor for the bigger bike picture in Toronto. Spadina, Bloor, Jarvis, Annette and St. Clair – in each case there was room for traffic and parking and wider sidewalks and trees, but not for bikes. There are always excuses; there is no room; there is a conveniently located bike lane just one street over; bike lanes will go in after the redesign is finished, or there are business owners who don’t want them. If the City put as much effort into building cycling infrastructure as they did making excuses we’d have had thousands of km of bike lanes by now! My thoughts were interrupted when the phone rang. It was my editor.

“Scoop, where the hell is the Centennial Park story?!”

“Sorry Chief,” I sighed. “There is no story, its just business as usual.”

~This article originally appeared in dandyhorse issue one, Summer 2008 ~

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