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The Boston Globe

Ideas

Conservatives’ new enemy: Bikes

The bicycle is emerging as a new conservative front in the culture wars.

Even before Toronto Mayor Rob Ford became internationally famous for being videotaped smoking crack, he was known as a City Hall version of Bluto Blutarsky of “Animal House”—swearing in public, proudly overeating, guzzling booze. His boorishness is so conspicuous and well documented that it raises the question: Who elected this guy? And why?

The answer, in large part, comes down to transit. Ford is famously pro-car, and his strongest support came from suburbs outside downtown Toronto, where voters drive into the city during the day and return by car in the evening. One political scientist found that the strongest predictor of whether someone voted for Ford in the 2010 mayoral election was the person’s method of commuting: Car commuters were Ford voters; everyone else wasn’t. Ford repaid their loyalty by declaring on his first day as mayor that the “war on cars” was over; he abolished the vehicle registration tax and announced a plan to kill light rail in the city simply because, he said, streetcars “are just a pain in the rear end.”

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