There is wide-spread concern amongst educators that especially the math skills of North American students are woefully inadequate.
Proof, if you need it, can be found in Toronto's City Council, specifically among the majority of members of the public works committee.
These people cannot even count.
They are taking away two lanes of University Avenue - one northbound, one southbound - to create 'segregated' lanes for bicycles.
It is supposed to be a 'temporary' thing, a trial run.
That's what they said about the Income Tax in 1917.
Twelve million (give or take) cars, which, like it or not, ARE the mass-transit system in this city, versus twelve hundred (take or give) bikes?
They point out how wonderfully well bikes work in cities like Montreal, Paris, Barcelona, even New York City, although I saw approximately zero bikes anywhere but in Central Park when I was in The Big Apple over the Easter weekend.
Spring had sprung, the grass had riz - I wonder where the bikeys is?
You'd have thought it would have been the perfect weekend to get out the ol' Raleigh.
Not so's I noticed.
Those other cities all share some common features which Toronto does not. Notably warmer climates.
OK, not Montreal.
But the other things they share are - just about everywhere you want to go is close by; and there are no hills.
OK again, Montreal has Mount Royal.
But you don't see many 'commuter' or 'tourist' bikes there - they're all downtown.
Nice, flat, downtown.
Now, I have nothing against bikes. I actually used to ride my Raleigh to work occasionally (wonder if any of the public works committee members ever do? I know the only car Mayor David Miller does NOT hate is his own limo...).
But my bike commuting took place when I lived in Leaside and taught summer courses at Ryerson. The Glen Road Bridge meant my route was almost hill-free, and needless to say, I did it only in summer.
Which, you may recall, is defined in Canada as two weeks of bad skiing.
The public works committee also gave the go-ahead to a bike renting system similar to the popular Bixi system in Montreal. If the 'Public Bike System Company' can round up over a half a million bucks in sponsorships and sign up 1,000 members, they'll have 1,000 bikes on the streets by early 2011.
One thousand part-time bikes.
Versus twelve million full-time cars?
And for this the bikeys get TWO dedicated lanes on University Avenue?
Maybe these councilors are not merely math-challenged.
Maybe they are simply nuts.