If bike lanes are the NPA’s wedge issue, they’re in for a rude awakening

If the NPA wants to run an election campaign on being anti-bike lanes, then they are likely to have their bubble of denial popped come next November.

The bubble of the blogosphere can tend to skewer perceptions of specific debates, and when I say this, the issue of bike lanes is top of mind.

Reading any of the anti-Vision Vancouver blogs and the comments of their internet trolls might give one the impression that the party is in for an electoral beating over the issue.

Frances Bula seems to think that this will be the wedge that the NPA latches onto next November:

When Vancouver councillor Suzanne Anton sent out an urgent news release last week rescinding her vote for the Hornby Street bike lane, it looked as though the stage was being set for a replay of the bike lane as a civic-election wedge issue in 2011.

It’s an issue that worked for her Non-Partisan Association in 2005 and certainly their opponents, the ruling Vision Vancouver party, believe that’s what they’re gearing up for again.

The reality of the support/dissent against the bike lanes, however, means that the NPA is likely barking up the wrong tree.

I spoke to Vision Vancouver staffer Tim Chipperfield yesterday, and was told that the positive responses (both email and phone calls) regarding the bike lanes have dwarfed those that aren’t in favour by about 8-1.

Even the T-shirts are flying off the shelves, necessitating a new order to accommodate the demand.  Once again, if you take a snapshot of the opposition, they are making the popular attire akin to lobbing insults at terminally ill patients.  The manufactured outrage by the City Caucus boys et al. is ridiculous.

Anyone who follows politics knows that the opponents of an issue will always be the more active than the supporters, who tend to think the passage of an initiative that they favour requires little to know vocalization.

And these anti-bike lane people tend to be virulent in their venom towards the idea.

That does not, however, make the issue unpopular to the point that Gregor Robertson and his slates would be in danger of getting knocked off as a result of them.  Quite the contrary, actually.

Bike lanes, whether you drive, bike or walk around town, has turned into a gauge of how progressive Vancouver is becoming, and people here on the left coast tend to like that kind of reputation.

Furthermore, Suzanne Anton has absolutely destroyed the issue for a party that is now aiming to be the home of those who oppose bike lanes altogether:

“If people are looking for someone to stand in the way of the bike lanes, they’re looking at the wrong person. They’re not going to get that from me.  The people who actually hate bike lanes, it’s a fairly small group of people.”

I cannot wait to hear Suzanne’s continued attempts to divert attention away from her flip flop by trying to convince people that it wasn’t the fact that she got the shit kicked out of her by her backers and party faithful, but rather her problem with the implementation, that forced her decision.

Yeah, and when you say that you want the NPA’s Mayoral candidate to be the “best person for the job,” you are not automatically referring to yourself.  Right?

Peter Ladner sums it up best, regardless of the head of a pin that Anton is trying to dance on these days:

“They’ll gravitate to some political place where they have a voice.  And we need to have a place for people who don’t agree with Vision Vancouver.  So if that’s anti-bike people, the NPA is where they’ll go.”

Yes, until they hear that the party also supports bike lanes…but that they would implement them differently.

This is due to a membership that is comprised of “a silent majority in the party who support bike lanes,” which makes the NPA a political organization that is once again struggling under the weight of having no official policies to espouse.

This is how Frances Bula gently presents the quandary in the article:

“Ms. Anton’s position – we’re in favour of bike lanes but we want to do a better job of planning them with the community – might be too subtle for voters to understand, say some political analysts.”

It’s not subtle at all.  Rather, it is just confusing when it comes to being salient and easy to understand by the voting public.

And if you think this kind of ambiguity is bad now, wait until after November 20, when the NPA will have a couple of dozen new candidates/talking heads with no policies to guide them in their public utterances.

As the operator of this blog, I am very anxious to see how this group shapes up.  I figure it should provide some fun for me, and some great entertainment for readers, over the coming year.

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