March 02, 2024

Calling Out Etobicoke Opponents on Bloor

When we advocate for safe streets, there will always be some people who will oppose them for a wide range of reasons whether it be loss of parking, perceived increased traffic congestion, and a bunch of frivolous arguments such as “violating charter rights”. Some public consultations and committee meetings have gotten a bit spicy, but never in the eleven years I have advocated for safe streets that I have seen things gone as bad as the campaign from the opponents of the Bloor West Complete Street Extension; the first phase of which was installed last fall to Aberfoyle Crescent. They even used a ridiculous name called “Balance on Bloor” when we know it’s the complete street extension that has brought balance to the street away from the dominance of private automobiles. Given the hostile February 28 meeting hosted by Councillor Stephen Holyday – one of the last consistent bike lane opponents in this city – we need to call out Cody MacRae – who started that petition – for his responsibility in promoting this and other events which have put city staff in undue danger.

You can watch the 30 second video shared by Dave Shellnutt here

Per several sources including Jun’s blog, a YouTube video by rootbrian, and discussions on Reddit and Facebook, the February 28 meeting – which was supposed to be focused on the 2025-27 Bike Plan – had quickly turned into chaos with city staff being constantly interrupted and cycling supporters being heavily outnumbered by opponents. Some supporters felt unsafe and left early, while one opponent openly said “Personally, I’d like to run them over to get them out of my way”. This incitement of violence should never be tolerated and only serves to discredit their cause, while Councillor Holyday bears some responsibility for refusing to condemn the violent behaviour as Dave Shellnutt's letter highlighted. It was also picked up on BlogTO.

Below is a letter I addressed to Cody MacRae ( and copied Councillor Stephen Holyday ( which I encourage you to do the same to condemn this violent behaviour.


March 2, 2024

Dear Mr. MacRae,
CC: Councillor Stephen Holyday

As a long-time cycling and road safety advocate in Toronto, I feel beyond disgusted with the audience conduct held at Councillor Stephen Holyday’s event on Wednesday, February 28 which was intended to be about the 2025-27 Bike Plan. While I did not attend the event, I heard from several cycling supporters about how they felt unsafe and had to leave early, the harassment targeted towards city staff, and a very disturbing remark from someone who said, “Personally, I’d like to run them over to get them out of my way”. This incitement of violence is unacceptable regardless of one’s views. While David Shellnutt publicly called out Stephen Holyday for refusing to condemn these remarks and bears some responsibility, I feel you also need to be held responsible given you had issued several updates to the petition which prompted opponents of the Bloor West Complete Street Extension to attend events such as that one.

Aside from the February 28 event, I was informed that the Etobicoke bike plan meeting on Thursday, November 23 – which was promoted on your petition – had to be shut down due to the heavy presence of opposition, while it was likely the cause for the downtown meeting to be cancelled altogether. When I attended the virtual meeting on Wednesday, December 6, I noticed the consultation portal was flooded with questions similar to those you mentioned when you encouraged people to attend the November 23 in-person meeting, even when they were out of scope in the respective boxes. Of all the consultations I had attended over the past eleven years, I felt that one was one of the worst I had seen up to that point, though I’m sure those who attended the recent one would argue that one was far worse.

To give you a better understanding of where cycling supporters are coming from, there have been calls for a bikeway along Bloor-Danforth for almost fifty years. The focus on Etobicoke may have been more recent, but there was not a single safe cyclist crossing of the Humber River between the Waterfront and Eglinton until the Bloor bike lanes were extended into Etobicoke last fall. Even when The Queensway Complete Street gets installed, it would represent an unrealistic detour from Bloor for those who bike. Last June, the City of Mississauga approved bike lanes on their part of Bloor, so it would only be a matter of time that the Bloor bike lanes be installed from Six Points to Etobicoke Creek. Especially since the lack of highway interchanges make it a safer crossing of Highway 427 than nearby Dundas Street. As for businesses, TCAT had done studies along Bloor-Danforth – including in Bloor West Village in 2010 – that showed businesses often overestimate the number of people who arrive by car with only 20% in Bloor West Village. Given these – and the fact that Stephen Holyday was the only councillor who opposed the Bloor West Complete Street Extension – I am confident this project will stay for the foreseeable future regardless of your campaign.

While we are free to have differing opinions on how Toronto’s roads should be designed, this kind of debate needs to be done in a respectful matter and not subject anybody – whether it be city staff, city councillors, or the general public – to undue harm. I call on you to publicly condemn the incitement of violence done at the February 28 meeting as soon as possible and to remind your supporters that they need to be respectful when engaging members of the public. Resorting to violent remarks only serves to discredit your cause and your supporters, as well as lead to a lose-lose situation for all stakeholders involved.

Sincerely yours,
Robert Zaichkowski

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