Ford vows to kill City Hall bike lockers

Posted on April 10th, 2013 2 great comments. Room for one more!

I mean, come on — you weren’t expecting Rob Ford to support something to do with biking, did you?

Okay, so now that we got that clarified, I hope it doesn’t come as a shock that Fordo vowed to kill a motion before City Hall to remove some (unused) parking spaces below City Hall and replace them with a locker to hold around 300-ish bikes.

To Rob, this just doesn’t make sense — spend $1.2 million to make an estimated $70,000 in locker fees? In a classic Fordian non sequitur, Ford blurted out, “I’m going to try to kill it at council, but that’s a complete waste of taxpayers’ money.”

Sure there’s waste at City Hall — there are two seats reserved with the name “Ford” that are complete wastes of space, for example — but the bike locker isn’t one of them.

For starters, the current parking spots to be occupied are mostly sitting idle. Of course, that doesn’t mean an additional cost, but it also doesn’t mean additional revenue. For the 12 phantom cars that are to be displaced, that would be about $3,600 per year (assuming $300 per vehicle). Even if those spots were paved over with gold and diamonds and rented out at $1,000 a pop, and the number of cars were doubled, that would still only amount to $24,000 a year.

But for the city to get that money, those spots would actually have to be reserved, so to call it lost revenue is just not correct.

To be sure, $1.2 million is an up-front cost that can’t just be ignored. If the $70K revenue stream is accurate, it’ll take just over 17 years to pay off. So in the short term, it definitely would not make economic sense.

However, this re-fit is part of the plan to re-do Nathan Phillips Square and has been for many years, so Fordo kinda missed the boat on that one (he’s been on City Council for a decade, conservatively*).

But, okay, that’s Ford right? He did, after all, come out and declare that he’s not exactly skilled at doing the whole “mayor” thing, so this shouldn’t come as a shocker to anyone.

But Ford’s numbers (still trusting him on that dubious $70K), do make sense if you require immediate payback on projects. Municipal government doesn’t always have to require that, and especially not on a relatively small $1.2 million. Even at two and a half times, as one must expect from government projects, that’s still a less-than-astronomical $3 million.

I’m willing to bet that that new stage being put up top side at the Square, not to mention all the extra stuff behind it, is worth at least a cool three mill, and what purpose do they serve?


Presumably to attract tourists and locals who might spend money. Those same tourists and locals that may arrive on bicycles (I’ve seen ’em, even on those rented numbers!)

Seems like it’s not an economic issue that Rob Ford has, nor is it a political problem; for him, it’s ideological. He doesn’t like bikes, thinks cyclists are a pain in the ass, and still thinks that it’s possible to cram more cars onto the streets of Toronto as a solution to congestion.

I can see why he’d think that; he has the right of way on all streets (presumably because he’s mayor), and doesn’t really have to obey all of those lesser-known (and unenforceable!) laws — that’s for everyone else to do.

* I feel it’s fair to chip off a couple of years for vacancies, mental and otherwise.

2 Comments on “ Ford vows to kill City Hall bike lockers ”

  • Mandl1978
    April 11th, 2013 9:02 pm

    Oh come on man…..why deliberately leave out the part about the showers they also wanted to build? That was the reason they objected and I absolutely agree. I’m all for more bike spots but why should the city be paying for someone to shower after their bike ride from work? How much will it cost to staff this place? What about yearly maintenance costs?

    Even if it was 1.2 million for just the 300 lockers $4000 dollars per locker seems very very steep doesn’t it?

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  • Patrick
    April 12th, 2013 7:59 am

    I didn’t deliberately leave it out, Mandl, I just didn’t include it because I didn’t think it was terribly relevant. As far as I’m concerned, it’s part of the construction cost, and in regards having the city pay for people’s showers, isn’t that what the parking / storage fees are supposed to cover? (If not, they don’t then then definitely should!)

    About the costs, it’s actually a bit less than $4,000, but close enough. I imagine that if I was having a custom bike lockup built and having a sturdy shower room installed at home, the cost would probably be similar. Unfortunately, though, I can’t comment beyond that because I’ve never had to pay for renos of this kind. It’d be interesting to get a few quotes to compare against.

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