Physicians Call for More Bike Lanes, More Quickly [Torontoist]

Tomislav Svoboda (right) sits with colleagues during a press conference at Toronto City Hall.
A group of physicians from St Michael’s Hospital are calling for more progress on the City’s bike plan—and, as part of that push, they’re standing in solidarity with Dr. Tomislav Svoboda, a colleague who was arrested in November for obstructing the now-infamous removal of the Jarvis Street bike lanes.
At a press conference this morning, Svoboda released an open letter signed by 22 physicians. It asks city council to “change lanes and save lives,” by speeding up the installation of bike lanes throughout the city. Svoboda will appear in court tomorrow afternoon to face criminal charges of mischief and obstructing a peace officer for his act of civil disobedience. He’s hoping to avoid a criminal record by offering to perform 50 hours of community service—fittingly, with local advocacy group Cycle Toronto.
Svoboda, at his press conference, scolded city council for falling behind its own targets for bike-lane expansion (set in the 2001 bike plan), and for removing lanes even as major cities like Montreal, New York, and Chicago add dozens of kilometers of new bike thoroughfares each year. Citing the six cycling fatalities and thousands of injuries that have occurred in Toronto in 2012 alone, Svoboda said that what we usually describe as accidents “could also be described as a failure by the City to protect its residents and to build a healthy city.” He urged councillors to consider the preventative benefits of cycling and active living in general. “Cardiovascular health, mental health, insomnia—all these things are treated with exercise…this is a public health issue, and an issue of primary care,” said Svoboda.