Interview and photos by Jenna Campbell
We recently posted our dandy mayoral primer to let readers where some of the candidates stand on bikes. Sketchy the Clown is not a serious candidate — he’s a clown everyone — but he is serious about cyclist safety in the city, so we thought we’d share the full interview for fun.
Don’t forget to vote on Oct. 27.
dandy: I’ll just get going right away with the first question. What do you think of the Richmond Adelaide Simcoe pilot project?
Sketchy: I'm going to change to my "Sketchy" voice, if that's okay. Sketchy the Clown here! What do I think of the pilot project? I think it's great. You know I do like having separations because I ride my bike and I don't want to damage the cars and if I have the lane separation, it keeps me from damaging cars, which is probably a good thing, probably a good thing.
D: How long — I know you said in an email to me that you don't ride a bike*… How long have you been biking in Toronto for?
S: Oh I don't drive a car is what you meant there. Have you been drinking? It's only 12:30 (p.m.). (Laughs) I’ve been riding a bike in Toronto for maybe ten years now I guess.
*(My mistake: I meant to say, "you don't drive a car.")
And off the top of your head, what streets do you think should have bike lanes?
You know what, I'll just answer on personal preference. I take Bathurst a lot, I’d really like a bike lane there, but particularly going up the Bathurst hill, because I live on top of that hill, and there's cars whooshing by you and there's concrete on one side of you, cars on the other, and they don't give you a lot of space. Within Toronto there aren’t a lot of hills, so it seems like a steep hill to me. That’d be great to have a bike lane there.
Do you have a favourite place to ride in the city?
Yeah definitely going down the Don River trails. I used to have a job where I worked in that area, I got to ride those trails every day there and back. It was fantastic.
What would be something you would do as mayor of the city to ease congestion and how would bikes play a role?
I would definitely encourage people to ride bikes because that takes more cars off the road. Definitely we’ve got to get more public transit going on because right now we're pretty much at capacity. You can't fit any more people on the subways during rush hour and you’ve got to build more than capacity. So here's the big thing I'm going to do: I am going to raise taxes to pay for a bunch of infrastructure. So I'd like to have separate bike lanes or at least little stand-up dividers, those little flip things, there's a name for it — you're a journalist, look that shit up and find out what it is. [Ed’s note: We call them bollards.
Anyway, it doesn't have to be the concrete separators, like a curb – though curbs are awesome and cars certainly won't park there, but I am worried about snowplows piling all the snow there. Anyways, so invest in more of that and more public transit and that's going to get some cars off the road and make things a little bit better for everyone.
What do you think Toronto does well when it comes to supporting its cyclists?
I don't think the municipal government does a great job, but I think the people of Toronto do a great job. There's a whole bunch of cycling groups and even a cycling union, well I'm pretty sure [I’m preaching to the] converted here if you're writing for dandyhorse. But, yeah, there are so many different organizations and so many different fun rides… But I guess what the City does well is they put in the little ring posts, I think there could be more of those, but that kind of street infrastructure that is helpful for people already riding bicycles… I think the city does a pretty good job of that. But they could go around and survey different times of day, different areas, see if there are any spots, and if not, increase the number of street posts.
Is there anything you disagree with that the other candidates are proposing in regards to cycling infrastructure?
I don't think any of them have made it a big part of their platform and that's what I disagree with. I have a job other than being a dirty clown and I work on College Street, right between University and Bay, and I look out my window and there's a constant stream of people going by on bike so that's a pretty big thing. I used to live on the east side and going across the Bloor Viaduct, there's tons of bikes all the time, people are going to work. So people in their cars, they don't really recognize that, they ignore, they block it out because they’re looking for other cars, that's the danger on the road to motorists: other cars. So I think the other candidates, because they’re not really — well two of the big candidates — they're not really bicycle riders so they're not really aware of it so it's not a big deal for them.
How important is it for other candidates to reach out to the cycling community, is it a vote that can make the difference?
Yeah think so. It's a large enough piece of - even people who don't ride bikes a lot and say, "Oh yeah, I'm maybe thinking of getting a bike," and even people who don't have bikes, still have a bike-friendly stance.
How can transit and bikes work together?
A really nice thing is, I'm near the St. Clair West subway station and the city has built this great little covered area where you can lock your bike in. So you ride your bike to the subway, you lock it, you take the subway downtown because a lot of people don't like going up the hill.
Instead of dragging your bike onto the subway and taking it downtown and during rush hour – well, they don't allow bikes on the subway at rush hour – so that parking is a great thing to have so you can use both transit and bikes in conjunction.
I also like the Bike Share program, I am a member of Bike Share, and it’s great because that's downtown because if you live way out in the middle of, out in the suburbs somewhere, like the 905, and you work downtown, you can come down through some sort of transit and POW, you have access to a bike and the bike shares are very close to lots of transit options.
As mayor, what would you do to make things safer for cyclists?
Here is what I recommend, everyone should wear really bright clothing like maybe a clown would wear and that way you're going to show up a little bit better, you can have those horns that go (makes a "Err err err err" sound) and that would really help people — oh and big red hair that sticks out at the sides, maybe even rainbow coloured, yeah you're going to be noticed, no messes with me, when Sketchy is on a bike, no I am over six feet tall and about 250 pounds, so no one messes with me period.
And so when dressing in costume, how hard is to bike in those shoes!?
Well actually I have big feet so I don't need to wear some sort of compensator shoes. I have a very snazzy outfit made for me, custom made, by Calvin Clown.
What's your best joke about the mayoral race or about the other candidates?
Well actually I don't make fun of the other candidates, it's not fair, I'm a comedian, they're not, they're at a distinct disadvantage so I don't make fun of them. But I do have a funny bit about infrastructure.
Okay so a big problem we have is with our sewage system so we have storm sewers and we have the sewage system. So you poo in one and the rainwater goes in the other but you if you get too much rain water, it overflows the poo line and have poo in the lake. So my slogan is, "Don't poo in the lake" and so what I want to do, it's going to cost a lot of money to do this, but I think it's a huge priority: we should have a "Downtown relief line."
Is there anything you would like to add about the election?
I tell people not to vote for me. That's the important thing. It's very important they go out to vote, but just don't go vote for me.
Oh because I'm a clown. Don't elect the clown for mayor, that's just a stupid idea. I'm running because I want people to be more aware about municipal politics, what the city does for them, all the services and agencies and things, and so I say; don't vote for me. And then you might ask, "Well who should I vote for?" Take a little time, we have this thing called the internet, and you can find out, based on the issues that you're most interested in, find the candidate that matches what your feelings are and vote for them. Just don't vote for me.
There's no one candidate that fits everyone. So and the nice thing is we have 70-odd people out there running for mayor and maybe there will be more by the end of the day. So I think it's good people find the candidate who matches what they believe.
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