Environmentalists like to talk about how green Europeans are compared to us North American energy gluttons. They paint European cities as some kind of Suzuki-esque utopia. After stepping outside the North American gas-crisis zone and spending a few days in Paris this week, I have to say, they’re not entirely wrong. The streets are packed with scooters and motorcycles. The cars are all tiny. SUVs and oversized luxury cars are about as easy to spot as ivory-billed woodpeckers. Suzuki would be in heaven. People here figured out a long time ago how to live in a world of high energy prices.
Still, it’s hard to see Toronto or Vancouver becoming more like Paris, even in a world of $200 a barrel oil. We’re too set in our ways, and we’ve spent too long building infrastructure for a world of cheap gas. The day I see a Bay Streeter give up his 5 Series for a scooter will be the day the Leafs win the Cup, which is to say, it will never happen. But they do it here, and it seems to work. Now, if only I could find a place in this city where a cup of coffee doesn’t cost $8.
PS. I’ve only seen a few Segways in this environmentally-friendly city. And it was a tour group. But I’m sure the Segway revolution is just around the corner.