Category Archives: Uncategorized

Hitting the road! Ten days in New England, in search of 100 Remedies

As part of my ongoing research for my book, I’m in New England this week meeting with activists and academics in Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts!


Read more on the 100 Remedies blog.

Why don’t we do it in the road?

Cross-posted on the Spacing blog.


Toronto is no stranger to painted murals.  From Art Starts to Mural Routes to the City’s StART program, we’re increasingly beautifying the walls of our public spaces with glorious pigment.

But there’s a new frontier, an unexplored canvass that’s thirsty for paint: our roads! Continue reading

Metrolinx continues to push for increased driver distraction

accidentThis week marks the National Day of Remembrance for Road Crash Victims.

Every single day Canadians of all ages die on our roads.  Surprisingly, the leading cause of fatal collisions is not speed nor alcohol.  The #1 cause of death on our streets is driver distraction.

That’s why governments, health agencies and community groups are trying desperately to reduce driver distraction.  Yet stunningly, Metrolinx remains the only government agency that is actively trying to increase driver distraction on our provincial highways. Continue reading

Did you ever have to make up your mind?

This is it folks!  Nine months after nominations began, election day is upon us.

Tomorrow, we get to choose a new mayor, 44 City Councillors, and our local school trustees.  They will shape the city around us for the next four years.

Lucky for you, a whole bunch of folks have gone out of their way to make it easier! Take a few minutes to check out these amazing community-driven election resources:

Continue reading

If a billboard falls in a forest….. (Part 2)

[note: this is cross-posted from spacing magazine]

Five weeks ago, I wrote the first installment of this saga which I described at the time as a “shocking tale of procedural inertia, bureaucratic confusion, and a broken democracy.”

I have some updates to share on this story, updates that provide a glimmer of hope while at the same time illustrating how deep the systemic problems at City Hall are.

I’ll get the good news out of the way first: The city’s Sign Unit has agreed to “re-open the investigation” into these signs. City staff are actively exploring whether the billboards are legal or not, and they are helping guide me through the entire process.

Now, the bad news: Continue reading

Our Transit Agency Shouldn’t Be in the Business of Endangering Drivers

[note: this is cross-posted from Torontoist]

Photo by Seekdes from the Torontoist Flickr Pool

Metrolinx, the provincial agency responsible for developing transportation in and around Toronto, is by definition in charge of helping us all move around more effectively. Which is why it is particularly crazy—a special kind of ridiculous—that the people who are supposed to be the caretakers of our travel want to allow eight massive commercial digital billboards, at four separate locations, along the 401 and 427.

While all levels of government are making efforts to reduce driver distraction, the Metrolinx plan actually aims to increase distraction—and make money off that distraction, to boot. Continue reading

Driven to Distraction: The Absurdity of Roadside Digital Billboards

[note: this is cross-posted from Huffington Post]

Lung Cancer and automobile accidents are two of the leading causes of avoidable deaths in North America. In response, all levels of governments have introduced legislation, fines and public education programs designed to minimize risk and save lives.

Anyone over the age of 30 remembers a time when restaurants and airplanes were filled with cigarette smoke. But starting in the 1980s, regulations to reduce second-hand smoke exposure were slowly introduced eventually banning smoking in bars, hospitals, airports, workplaces, etc.

To increase road safety we have speed traps, photo radar, traffic calming measures, breathalyzers, stronger penalties for street racing, etc. More recently, the focus has shifted to reducing driver distraction. After all, most accidents are not caused by alcohol or speeding, but by distracted drivers. The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states that even a two second distraction “significantly increases individual crash risk.” Every year, governments across North America are bringing in new legislation and increased fines related to driver distractions.

There is no way to measure the precise impact of these initiatives, but there is little doubt that they have collectively saved thousand of lives. Public acceptance and support of these measures is nearly universal. At this point, it would be laughable to suggest that we re-introduce smoking in restaurants, or that we should allow people to text while they drive.

But there is one exception, one glaring anomaly that contradicts all other measures and efforts that have been made to save lives on our roads. That anomaly is roadside billboards. And in particular, digital billboards.

Continue reading