Councillor suggests alternate use for school-zone speeding funds
Take radar revenue, reconfigure roads: Allard
A WINNIPEG city councillor hopes to spend photo radar revenue from school
zones to reconstruct roads in ways that slow down the drivers in those
Coun. Matt Allard, council’s public works chairman, is calling for a staff
report with options to reallocate that cash from the police budget to
public works. In a new motion, the councillor notes school-zone tickets
have been criticized as a revenue generator and stresses more must be done
to stop drivers from speeding near schools.
“Some of the data indicates that there isn’t (enough) in terms of changes
in driver behaviour despite the photo enforcement locations,” said Allard
(St. Boniface). “What’s proven to work is actually reconfiguring the road
where there’s a high volume of tickets.”
He suggests the public service check out traffic-calming options to see
what would work best in school zones with speeding concerns, which could
include speed bumps or road narrowing.
Allard said he doesn’t know how much revenue police could lose through the
move, though he said budgets could be gradually altered to ease the loss.
“I’m convinced that we need to do more than just photo enforcement. We need
to follow that up with other road improvements in order for speeding to
properly be addressed,” he said.
The councillor said he believes photo radar vans have been effective at
slowing down some speeders, but the city needs to take further action to
address others. If the effort succeeds, that could eventually reduce or
eliminate the need for photo enforcement, he said.
“I think the program is a good one (but) I think it needs reform,” he said.
The Winnipeg Police Service raised $9.6 million in photo-radar revenue in
2020, an amount that plummeted from an initial budget estimate of $15.8
million because of a drop in driving during the pandemic. City budgets
don’t specify how much of the revenue is raised through school-zone
A total of 10 mobile units are assigned to conduct speed enforcement in
zones around schools, playgrounds and construction, according to the WPS
The number of school-zone tickets handed out has been inconsistent in
recent years: 53,263 in 2016, 50,125 in 2017, 41,784 in 2018 and 41,793 in
The lack of a clear downward trend shows ticketing hasn’t triggered a
lasting improvement in driver behaviour, said Christian Sweryda, a law
student and former WiseUp Winnipeg member who has long criticized the
“Personally, I see that tickets would drop as people get used to knowing
where the vans are. And then, every year or two (police) have to change
something to get the tickets back up,” said Sweryda.
In an emailed statement, WPS spokesperson Const. Rob Carver declined to
discuss what impact the budget change could have on the police service.
“We will not speculate on the potential impact of budget proposals,” wrote
*Allard’s motion is slated for a vote at the April 6 meeting of the Riel
*Dangerous by Design 2021: Pedestrian Deaths Up 45%*
The new edition of Dangerous by Design 2021
Smart Growth America reports that the number of people hit and killed by
drivers while walking in the US increased by 45% in the last decade, and
that the last four years have been the deadliest for pedestrian deaths
since 1990. The report also highlights ongoing disparities in which groups
of people are at greatest risk of dying while walking. Older adults, Black
or African American and American Indian or Alaska Native people, and people
in low-income communities continue to be disproportionately represented in
fatal crashes involving people walking. The report uses the most recent
federal Fatal Accident Reporting System data on pedestrian fatalities
combined with data on population and walking rates to rank states and the
100 most populous metropolitan areas by their “Pedestrian Danger Index."
Forty-nine states and 84 of the 100 largest metro areas have become more
dangerous since the 2019 edition of the Dangerous by Design report.
The report calls on states, localities, and the federal government to make
improving pedestrian safety an urgent priority and identifies actions that
can save lives. These include passing the newly introduced Complete Streets
Act of 2021
which would require state DOTs and MPOs to plan for all people who use the
street, including the most vulnerable users. Learn more about the Dangerous
by Design report in a webinar on March 25 at 2:00 pm ET
WINNIPEG -- With more and more Winnipeggers choosing to walk or cycle as a
mode of transportation, the City of Winnipeg also has plans to add more
pedestrian bridges around the city.
According to Chris Baker, a City of Winnipeg senior active transportation
planner, the city has two current priorities when it comes to pedestrian
“The top priority is the Fort Rouge McFadden Bridge, connecting the
Downtown to Osborne Village,” he said.
“The next priority would be the Pembina Highway overpass at the Bishop
Baker added that these shovel-ready projects are part of the city’s
infrastructure priority list and will be built once the city finds the
*THE CITY’S CURRENT PEDESTRIAN BRIDGES*
Currently, there are more than 50 pedestrian bridges in the city of
“That includes everything from the signature bridges, the Disraeli
pedestrian bridge over the Red River or the Esplanade Riel and all the way
down to a bridge in a golf course or in a city park,” Baker said.
He noted the city’s active transportation policy is what guides where it
chooses to build bridges, adding that the policy calls for several bridges
and other grade separations throughout the city.
*ARE THE BRIDGES NECESSARY?*
Baker said through the city’s monitoring of walking and cycling it has
discovered that people are partaking in these activities more and more.
He said that in the spring of 2020, some locations reported a 30 per cent
increase in the number of pedestrians and cyclists compared to 2019.
Anyone who is looking to provide feedback on pedestrian bridges can contact
City reviewing pandemic program that was popular with users, but not
always with residents on closed streets
Thousands of residents pedalled and pounded the pavement of Winnipeg's
"open streets" routes earlier in the COVID-19 pandemic — but decisions on
what will happen with that initiative this spring are still on hold.
The restrictive nature of public health orders in 2020, as the pandemic
began, prompted the City of Winnipeg last spring to expand its four regular
Sunday/holiday bicycle routes
seven days a week. It later added several other locations
across the city.
Sections of Lyndale Drive, Wellington Crescent, Wolseley Avenue and Scotia
Street were, as usual, reserved for pedestrians and cyclists during daytime
hours until the Thanksgiving weekend last year, with motor vehicle traffic
limited to one block on those routes.
The city added sections of Assiniboine Avenue, Churchill Drive, Egerton
Road, Kildonan Drive and Kilkenny Drive to that list in April, and Vialoux
Drive in July. They remained closed to daytime vehicle traffic
until the Labour Day weekend last year.
Now, with temperatures rising and some health restrictions still in place,
there are questions about where the city will take the program this year.
Some feel limiting motor traffic on certain streets should not only be
continued, but expanded.
"Absolutely. It's been life changing to have a place where we can walk and
we can actually space" apart to observe physical distancing, Debbie
Kroeker said as she strolled with a friend down Wellington Crescent.
"If we didn't have this, we couldn't walk with more than one person. So
it's just a way to really energize the community."
A report on the active transportation routes was ordered by city council
last September, but the public administration has asked for, and received,
extensions to finish the work — the latest being until the middle of April.
Staff with the city's public works department are expected to find options
for other streets across the city that could be closed on some basis to
motor traffic, and recommendations for establishing year-round active
The chair of the city's public works and infrastructure committee is keen
to get going on some sort of expansion of the program, and is chafing at
the wait for feedback from staff.
"I, for one, would like to see them open right now," said St. Boniface
Coun. Matt Allard.
"The public service has had two extensions to produce the report.… Seeing
the snow melt and recalling the huge success last year, I'm really eager to
get this going, and I don't see why we can't get it going right away."
'A lot of confrontations': Wellington resident
Not everyone thinks expanding the program would be a good idea.
One Wellington Crescent resident says turning her street into an active
transportation route has prompted plenty of friction between cyclists and
pedestrians, and residents trying to get to or from their homes.
"The people that are using the street don't really have any regard to the
people that live on the street and need to access the street," said Leanne
(she declined to give her last name).
"So there's been a lot of confrontations … you know, yelling at people for
being on the street or having your vehicle when you're just trying to get
to your driveway and get home."
She says she filled out a city survey seeking feedback on the routes
year, and hopes some attention is paid to the residents.
"Think of it from our point of view as well. We want everyone to be safe
and walk, and it's a beautiful street and we want to enjoy it too, but we
do live on it and we need to get our vehicles out," she said.
Kroeker hopes the people who walk and bike the streets, and the residents
along them, can find a way to use them together.
"Everybody needs to dig a bit deeper and be tolerant and patient — and of
course, please be respectful of our wonderful neighbours here and vice
versa," she said.
A spokesperson for the city's public works department called last year's
open streets program "unprecedented" and said it was taking extra time to
prepare the report on what to do next.
"The additional time needed to present our recommendations has been a
result of doing extensive due diligence in terms of consulting with
stakeholders and working to ensure that any identified corridors are able
to function as open streets," spokesperson Ken Allen said in an email.
Cycling advocates say temporary bike lanes should be made permanent
Several Canadian cities set up temporary bike lanes to accommodate
the pandemic cycling boom, and biking enthusiasts want the changes to stay.
According to a survey
Statistics Canada, more Canadians are now biking or walking to work than
using public transit. After the pandemic began last year, many
viewed cycling as a safer alternative to being crammed together with others
in small spaces and increasing the potential risk of contracting COVID-19.
the University of Toronto published last month suggests the pandemic bike
lanes improved access to jobs, parks and stores. Cycling advocates say the
changes should be made permanent and expanded further — similar to what is
being done in Europe.
According to cycling advocacy organization Vélo Canada Bikes, several
cities, including Moncton, Kitchener, Ottawa, Montreal, Vancouver,
Victoria, Toronto, Calgary and Winnipeg have extended their bike lane
networks since the pandemic began.
In Montreal, Société du parc Jean-Drapeau, which runs the park area that
includes Île Sainte-Hélène and Île Notre-Dame, opened a new, year-round
cycling route this winter between the Jacques-Cartier and Concorde
In Calgary, 13 kilometres of roadway with vehicle traffic was temporarily
closed to provide space for cyclists and pedestrians to use during the
In Toronto, 25 kilometres of new temporary bike lanes
approved in June 2020 through ActiveTO
an initiative that opened up streets for cyclists and pedestrians to have
more space for physical distancing while spending time outdoors.
"These benefits are all temporary, and that's why we have an ongoing push
to keep ActiveTO, retain the routes beyond 2021 and keep expanding,"
said Keagan Gartz, executive director of bike lobby group Cycle Toronto.
New bike lanes expand access
In the U of T study
researchers mapped the provincial capital's entire cycling network using
city and survey data. It was discovered that the COVID-19 cycling lanes
increased cyclists' road access to stores and jobs by 10.4 per cent to 22.3
per cent and increased access to parks by 6.3 per cent.
In the study, the researchers classified each roadway based on how
stressful it is to cycle on. Roads where a child might easily ride were
ranked at the low end of the scale while dangerous, busy roads were pinned
at the top.
Using this ranking system, the researchers were able to measure the impact
of new temporary bike lanes on accessibility.
Middle-class neighbourhoods benefit most
One of the other researchers leading the study, Shoshanna Saxe, said the
areas with the most improved accessibility were those where new
infrastructure built on existing networks.
"The places where we connect new bike lanes to old bike lanes are the
places that benefit the most," she said. "And that means that places in
parts of the city that didn't already have bike lanes are starting off a
little bit farther behind. And so we need to build more for those parts of
the city faster."
Brian Pincott, executive director of Vélo Canada Bikes, said more work
needs to be done to create equal access to cycling networks.
"They were in places that were nice to go for a bike ride, not in more
socio-economically challenged neighbourhoods," he said. "We have to look at
cycling as a tool for equity so that lower-income neighbourhoods can access
safe cycling infrastructure to get around."
The federal government recently announced Canada's first active
response to the need for safe, alternative transportation options. The
$400-million National Active Transportation Fund will be spent over the
next five years on projects such as new cycling paths and trails.
Bike lanes not always welcome
However, not all efforts to expand bike lanes have been well received.
The Vancouver Park Board recently met with criticism for approving to
reinstate a temporary bike lane
Park Drive in Stanley Park.
Last summer, the board opened up a lane dedicated to cyclists and
pedestrians to make more room for physical distancing, restricting access
to vehicles. The lane was later reconfigured to be shared between cyclists
and cars as pandemic restrictions eased.
Some argued that the addition of the new bike lane caused serious
congestion as it forced the park's slow-moving horse-drawn carriages into
a single car lane. Business owners in the area voiced concerns about
customers being driven away by the closure.
The public responded with a 27,000-signature petition in September
demanding the park board reverse the decision.
Pincott said that as municipalities develop new cycling infrastructure,
they're learning more about which changes work.
"We can always make adjustments, but we have to be open to trying," he said.
Europe's investments in cycling
U of T's Saxe said Canada should follow the lead of European cities in
making temporary bike lane expansions permanent.
"Around the world, we see examples of places that have said this is the
future," she said. "This is how we get more people moving around in
healthier, more environmentally-friendly ways. And Paris has been really
leading the charge on that."
According to the European Cyclists' Federation, 42 out of the 94 largest
European cities have built new pandemic cycling networks and more than 400
kilometres of them are permanent.
European cities have made significant investments in making it easier to
travel by bike:
In Paris, Mayor Anne Hidalgo recently made the expansion of 50 temporary
bike lanes permanent.
The European Cyclists' Federation's COVID-19 measures tracker
<https://ecf.com/dashboard> shows that London, Milan and Granada,
Spain, have put in the most cycling infrastructure since the pandemic began.
The British government announced funding
last year for a new bus, cycling and walking initiative in England.
That will provide 240 kilometres of permanent, protected bike lanes, as
well as wider sidewalks, safer intersections and bus-only lanes by 2025.
Kraków, Poland, introduced five kilometres of pop-up bike lanesand has
developed a five-year plan to connect all the city's districts with the
Brussels imposed a 30 km/hr speed limit through most areas of the city
at the start of the year and is conducting feasibility studies for a
network of fast bike highways linking the city centre and the suburbs.
Barcelona has accelerated the construction of 160 kilometres of new or
expanded bike paths, which will bring its bike network to 305 kilometres by
- An earlier version of this story said the addition of a bike lane in
Vancouver's Stanley Park forced cars, bikes, and horse-drawn carriages to
share a single lane. In fact, bikes have their own lane while carriages and
cars now share a single lane.
Mar 18, 2021 12:17 PM ET
*ActiveTO poised to return in 2021, may include bike lanes and patios on
Major weekend road closures are recommended to continue even after the
Toronto is recommending the return of its ActiveTO program in 2021, which
could include the addition of temporary bike lanes and curb lane patios on
a major portion of Yonge Street.
ActiveTO was created in the spring of 2020 to promote modes of active
transportation such as cycling, running and walking during the early stages
of the pandemic.
A report recommending the renewal of the program
spring goes to the city's Infrastructure and Environment Committee on
Tuesday, March 23.
The city is recommending that the program become a permanent fixture even
after the pandemic ends.
"This report shows that ActiveTO was a tremendous success in 2020 and city
staff are confident that we can build upon that success this year," said
Toronto Mayor John Tory in a statement.
"I think this report shows we are doing everything we can as a city
government to support more active transportation options."
According to the city, people who took part in the weekend road closures
were overwhelmingly supportive of the initiative, with 92 per cent saying
they wanted the closures to continue beyond COVID-19.
The staff report also found minimal evidence for increased vehicle traffic
delays due to the program, with some exceptions on the Gardiner Expressway
and The Queensway.
Yonge Street redesign to follow Danforth Avenue model
The proposed changes on Yonge Street would be installed between Bloor
Street and Davisville Avenue.
The redesign of the street would be considered a pilot project with a
tentative end date of Apr. 30, 2022.
The report suggests temporary changes to Yonge Street that would mirror the
redesign of Danforth Avenue undertaken last year. (Toronto)
The proposed changes would mirror the approach taken on Danforth Avenue
last summer, where new bike lanes and patios were installed using temporary
blockades and paint.
The report says the changes on Yonge Street could likely be implemented
this year, though city staff have not provided a target date.
Toronto city council approved a plan to add bike lanes to a larger stretch
of Yonge Street
fall. That decision called for the bike lanes to be installed sometime
during the second quarter of the year.
City to consider additional tweaks
The version of ActiveTO proposed for 2021 includes several changes compared
to the initial program introduced last year, which had three primary
components: weekend road closures, the creation of "Quiet Streets"
neighbourhood zones, and the expansion of the city's cycling network.
While some major weekend road closures are slated to continue, the closures
will likely not include a section of Lake Shore Boulevard West that proved
to be among the more popular ActiveTO destinations last summer.
City staff say construction projects taking place in the west end of the
city would likely cause significant traffic delays if Lake Shore Boulevard
East were closed to motor vehicles in either 2021 or 2022.
The weekend road closures on portions of Bayview Avenue and Lake Shore
Boulevard East are planned to continue.
The report also recommends the cancellation of the Quiet Streets program,
which saw the installation of traffic calming measures such as signage and
barricades in 30 locations around the city.
The report instead recommends "refocusing" on other measures such as
reducing speed limits and automated speed enforcement.
[You can also check out a recent webinar recording with Angie Schmitt at:
What Happened to Pickup Trucks?As U.S. drivers buy more full-size and
heavy-duty pickups, these vehicles have transformed from no-frills
workhorses into angry giants. And pedestrians are paying the price.
To get a handle on what’s happened to pickup trucks, it really helps to use
a human body for scale.
In some nerdy Internet circles — specifically, bike and pedestrian advocacy
— it has become trendy to take a selfie in front of the bumper of random
neighborhood Silverados. Among the increasingly popular heavy-duty models,
the height of the truck’s front end may reach a grown man’s shoulders or
neck. When you involve children in this exercise it starts to become really
disturbing. My four-year-old son, for example, barely cleared the bumper on
a lifted F-250 we came across in a parking lot last summer.
[image: relates to What Happened to Pickup Trucks?]
Look out below.
Photo courtesy Angie Schmitt
Vehicles of this scale saddle their drivers with huge front and rear blind
them perilous to operate
in crowded areas. Even car guys have been sounding the alarm about the
mega-truck trend recently. A few months ago, the *Wall Street Journal*’s
about his close encounter in a parking lot with a 2020 GMC Sierra HD
Denali: “The domed hood was at forehead level. The paramedics would have
had to extract me from the grille with a spray hose.”
Since 1990, U.S. pickup trucks have added almost 1,300 pounds
on average. Some of the biggest vehicles on the market now weigh almost
— or about three Honda Civics. These vehicles have a voracious appetite for
space, one that’s increasingly irreconcilable with the way cities (and garages,
and parking lots
Styling trends are almost as alarming. Pickup truck front ends have warped
into scowling brick walls, billboards for outwardly directed hostility.
“The goal of modern truck grilles,” wrote *Jalopnik*’s Jason Torchinsky in
“seems to be… about creating a massive, brutal face of rage and
The Electric Pickup Truck War Is Here
During the pandemic, U.S. buyers seemed to respond
this kind of packaging. In May 2020, Americans bought more pickup trucks
for the first time. Five of the 10 top-selling vehicles in the U.S. last
year were pickup trucks
Giant, furious trucks are more than just a polarizing consumer choice:
Large pickups and SUVs are notably more lethal to other road users, and
their conquest of U.S. roads has been accompanied by a spike in fatalities
among pedestrians and bicyclists
As I wrote in my 2020 book <https://islandpress.org/books/right-way> *Right
of Way: Race, Class, and the Silent Epidemic of Pedestrian Deaths in
America*, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
and the *Detroit Free Press
*have pointed to the rise in SUVs and large pickups as the main culprit in
the pedestrian mortality surge.
The truck trend is contributing to another troubling crash-related
disparity: In a new study
the IIHS shows that women — who tend choose smaller vehicles — are
suffering higher injury and death rates than their male counterparts,
despite the fact than women engage in fewer risks and crash less.
Why have pickup trucks morphed into such huge, angry, and dangerous
presences? Traffic safety experts, commentators on U.S. automotive culture,
and social scientists have suggested a range of forces behind truck bloat.
The truckification of the family car
One key driver of pickup growth relates to how they are now being used. If
you overlook their gleefully violent styling and garage-unfriendly
footprint, these vehicles have become more practical as family vehicles
Despite the agrarian pursuits that TV commercials suggest, today’s pickup
trucks are being built more to haul kids and families than sheep and
boulders. Until the 1980s, almost every pickup truck sold in the U.S. had a
single cab, meaning seating for three max in a single bench-style seat,
with a bed that was eight feet long for a full-sized long-bed vehicle. That
old no-frills working-style truck is fading into history.
[image: Loading Hay Bales]
In 1967, this was a pickup truck.
Photographer: Underwood Archives/Archive Photos
In 2020, 85% of pickup trucks sold had “crew cabs” or “extended crew cabs”
or one of a handful of other tough-guy euphemisms with two sets of seats
for five people — most with four doors. Some have four regular-size doors.
These passenger-heavy, cargo-lite arrangements are so popular that some
automakers — like Ram — have stopped even offering single cabs in their
best-selling pickup brands.
As pickups transformed into family vehicles, they also became more
luxurious. The average truck in the U.S. sells for almost $50,000 now
— a 41% increase compared to a decade ago — and many boast posh,
feature-laden interiors designed to compete with high-end SUVs and sedans,
as auto writer Jim Gorzelany writes in *Forbes*
As a result, today’s truck owners include all kinds of people who don’t
necessarily need (and rarely use)
these vehicles’ defining features: the open cargo-hauling bed and towing
capabilities. Some choose big trucks because smaller vehicles make them
feel too vulnerable on modern highways.
Michael Powell, a social worker who lives in rural Maine, says he’d rather
drive a compact car, but he has PTSD from a former car crash: He drives a
truck, he says, “because everyone else in my town does, and it’s the only
way I can get around without feeling like I’m gonna die.”
Jeff Weidner, an assistant professor at a college in El Paso, Texas, says
he feels a little guilty about choosing to buy a full-size Toyota Tundra —
but admits he likes it. “We were looking for something that would hold
six people, would be good for long trips in terms of space and carrying our
stuff,” he says. At first, he planned on buying the mid-size Tacoma, but
“they upsold us hard with the Tundra. They barely even had stock of Tacomas
— they probably do not make enough money on them.”
The U.S.’s perverse regulatory and tax environment contributes to this arms
race. Ford’s heavy-duty F-250, for example, benefits from its regulatory
status as a commercial vehicle, unlike the slightly smaller F-150. The same
goes for other heavy-duty models like the Ram 2500 and Silverado 2500HD, which
aren’t classified as passenger vehicles, but as work machines
and are thus exempt from EPA fuel economy reporting regulations. “Nobody
tracks the gas mileage — there’s no EPA rating for that car,” says Dan
Albert, author of *Are We There Yet?: The American Automobile Past, Present
[image: GMC Holds Vehicle Reveal Event]
The mighty prow of a GMC Sierra Denali HD.
Photographer: Sandy Huffaker/Bloomberg
Business tax structure also encourages many business owners to opt for the
bigger F-250 over the F-150, making the added cost almost negligible. Going
large doesn’t necessarily exact a major toll in fuel expenses, either:
While pickups have gotten bigger they have also become — while not exactly
green — certainly less gas guzzling. Equipped with a hybrid powertrain, the
2021 Ford F-150 can achieve 25 miles per gallon in the city
more than a Honda Odyssey minivan. “We have gotten better at making them
more efficient,” says Benjamin Sovacool
<https://profiles.sussex.ac.uk/p373957-benjamin-sovacool>, a researcher who
studies energy transitions.
That fuel efficiency is set to leap forward again, with the arrival of Tesla’s
Cybertruck, GM’s rebooted 1,000-horsepower Hummer EV, and host of other
battery-powered vehicles that overcompensate for their non-polluting
powertrains with hyper-aggressive styling and power ratings.
Make way for “petro-masculinity”
But that doesn’t mean the decision to buy a $50,000 truck with a
4,200-pound payload rating for the occasional trip to the golf course or
hardware store is strictly rational. Personal vehicles are not merely
functional appliances: They are used as refuges, fortresses and private
enclaves, and serve as important signifiers of class and gender identity,
as Sovacool explored in a 2018 study
To Albert, the booming appeal of bigger and more brutish trucks reflects “a
crisis of masculinity,” he says. “Nothing could be more emasculating than
driving a minivan. So you want the vehicle that’s going to maintain your
The fact that supersized pickup trucks were often deployed as political
props (and weapons
the Trump era did not escape the notice of scholars like Cara Daggett, a
professor of political science at Virginia Tech. In a widely shared 2018
coined the term “petro-masculinity” to describe flamboyant expressions of
fossil fuel use by men (and some women as well, but mostly men) as a
reaction against social progress. To these drivers, “the affront of global
warming or environmental regulations appear as insurgents on par with the
dangers posed by feminists and queer movements seeking to leach energy and
power from the state/traditional family,” she wrote.
Petro-masculinity helps explain not only these vehicles’ confrontational
styling, but the often equally belligerent way in which they are operated.
The EPA estimates that more than half a million trucks — 15% of the
diesel-powered pickups on U.S. roads — have had their emissions equipment
modified over the last decade in order to increase their power and
polluting potential. There’s a cottage industry
devoted to the practice of bypassing emissions standards; such modified
vehicles are believed to emit as much pollution as 9 million
emissions-compliant diesel trucks. While illegal, some drivers flaunt their
ability to pollute, via the behavior known as “rolling coal
in which drivers of modified diesel trucks blow black smoke at targets of
their disapproval (often Prius drivers or bicyclists).
“Burning fossil fuels can come to function as a knowingly violent
experience,” Daggett writes, “a reassertion of white masculine power on an
unruly planet that is perceived to be increasingly in need of violent,
Built for battle
Geopolitical factors have long played a role in car and truck design in the
U.S.: Jeeps, of course, began as military vehicles adapted to civilian use,
a heritage the company still proudly announces
<https://www.jeep.com/history/1940s.html> on its site, saying the brand is
“forever tied to freedom, capability and adventure.” The first iteration of
GM’s Hummer brand spun from the high-profile role that Humvee military
vehicles used in the Persian Gulf War
Other manufacturers continue to cultivate connections to the military as
well. Ford advertises
its F-150 is made of “military-grade aluminum alloy” for the “working
In his excellent illustrated essay “About Face
<https://popula.com/2019/02/24/about-face/>,” cartoonist Nate Powell, whose
father was an Air Force officer, explores the recent emergence of the
overtly “paramilitary aesthetic” in truck and SUV design and connects it to
recent U.S. “forever wars,” in which regular troops have mixed with private
security units, special forces and law enforcement officers in battlefields
around the world. Many veterans of these campaigns employed up-armored
civilian vehicles, and they brought a taste for such machines back home
“It’s a kind of spectacular performance of power.”
That aesthetic can be detected not only in the raised “militarized” grille
height of pickup trucks, but also the popularity of aftermarket
modifications like blacked-out windows and “bull bars” affixed to the front
end. Together, the way these trucks look speaks to a “rejection of
communication, reciprocity and legal accountability,” Powell writes.
At their heart, these consumer choices also reflect something else, says
Sovacool: fear. “We are questioning our place in the world, with
globalization and Trump. We’re also feeling really uncertain and unsafe —
the pandemic, terrorism.”
With its “bulletproof” stainless-steel skin and “bioweapon defense mode,”
perhaps no vehicle feels as precisely calibrated to the anxieties of its
era as the Tesla Cybertruck
Such vehicles promise more than just “defensive security,” wherein a larger
vehicle at least theoretically protects its occupants better in a collision
with a smaller vehicle: They are built to project “offensive security,”
“If you do need a vehicle that will go off road, carry lots of weapons or
run over people,” he says, “then these bigger vehicles do it better than
these smaller ones.”
Only in America
Threaded within the pickup’s militaristic branding is a powerful appeal to
national pride. U.S. automakers have long dominated pickup truck sales,
which produce enormous profits for Detroit-based companies and employ a lot
of domestic auto workers. No wonder there’s such hesitancy among regulators
to stand in the way of some of their more egregious styling trends or
emissions loopholes. “In a way, critiquing them is seen as anti-American
and anti-jobs,” says Sovacool.
[image: Pickup trucks with American flags affixed to their attennas]
America’s “Big Three” automakers dominate the large pickup market.
Photographer: Jack Smith/Bloomberg
In a 2016 essay for *N+1*, Albert also reflected on the burden of
associations — nostalgic and nationalistic — that pickups carry: “To drive
a thirsty truck is to live in a pre-EPA era, before the spikes in gas
prices, before political correctness,” he wrote
fill the bottomless tank of a pickup … is to practice the religion of the
American Way. It is to affirm climate denial, petrol-adventurism, and
There are many ways to untangle pickup trucks from this trap and rein in
their most destructive excesses. Federal regulators could revise the EPA
mandates that the largest pickups now avoid, and impose stronger rules
pedestrian safety to make trucks and SUVs less lethal. The tax code could
be reformed, so businesses that purchase the largest commercial trucks
aren’t rewarded with a 100% depreciation bonus
on the first year. Cities could stiffen parking policies and raise vehicle
so that such impractically scaled machines will be less appealing to buyers
who have little need of their capabilities. But any such efforts can’t be
merely “technocratic,” Daggett says — they must grapple with the broader
societal forces that these supertrucks have tapped into.
“A lot of things are attached to fossil fuel culture because they are
symbolically a part of a certain way of life or an identity,” she
says. “It’s no longer possible to operate in the world and not understand
that fossil fuels are violent. It’s a kind of spectacular performance of
*Angie Schmitt <https://twitter.com/schmangee> is a writer and planning
consultant and author of *Right of Way: Race, Class and the Silent Epidemic
of Pedestrian Deaths in America
City urged to add bike lanes on Salter Street in rebuild
ON any given day, the intersection of Salter Street and Selkirk Avenue is
bustling with cars, trucks and buses. Those looking to cycle through the
neighbourhood often find themselves on the sidewalk, deftly dodging a
steady stream of pedestrians.
As the City of Winnipeg plans to rebuild a swath of Salter Street,
community leaders are questioning its decision to leave out active
transportation routes — and are advocating for a design model that includes
a bike lane on the busy roadway.
All his life, Nelson Flett has navigated his North End neighbourhood by
foot, bike and even rollerblades. Having bike lanes in the community, he
says, would offer a safe way to get around and bring about some
“I want the future generations to be safe, have fun, get outdoors and enjoy
the life I had, because I’ve been riding bikes most of my life,” Flett said
Friday morning, during a news conference on the corner of Salter and
“I think it would just rejuvenate the area, bring the life out in people.”
Flett joined members of Winnipeg Trails, Couns. Ross Eadie (Mynarski) and
Vivian Santos (Point Douglas), and other community leaders to call for the
building of active transportation routes as street revitalization projects
take place in the North End.
The group envisioned what a bike lane might look like on Salter Street.
“Seven feet, that’s all we’re asking for,” they called out, holding up a
tape measure at the seven-foot mark.
“We want to see them fix Salter and do it right; $6 million spent through
the heart of the North End without bike lanes in the middle of a pandemic
is wrong,” Winnipeg Trails executive director Anders Swanson said.
“We want the city to integrate bike lanes into all of its road
reconstruction, because we are tired of chasing after multimillion-dollar
projects that could have been done better.”
In late 2020, the city tendered a project to rehabilitate Salter between
the Slaw Rebchuk Bridge and Cathedral Avenue. But due to a “limited scope,”
the project will not include any public engagement activities, according to
the city’s website.
In February, the city awarded a tender valued at more than $4.2 million to
Winnipeg-based Darco Group Ltd. for the rehabilitation project, which will
have roads and sidewalks rehabilitated for pedestrian safety.
“This considers neither current nor best practices in active
transportation, otherwise the moment you see one person riding on the
sidewalk here, you would put in bike lanes,” Swanson said.
Flett — who has biked over the bridge to his work in West Broadway — said
the busy traffic lanes in the neighbourhood are “scary” to traverse,
leading many on bikes to take to the sidewalks and causing safety issues
In an ideal reconstruction, Flett said he would like to see protected cycle
lanes, like the ones on Maryland and Sherbrook Streets, start popping up in
the North End.
Ground is expected to be broken on the Salter Street project in summer.