Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Jarvis Bike Lanes

As you probably heard, the Jarvis Bike Lanes are on the chopping block. The War on the Car is over, long live the War on the Bike.

City Council is set to vote on the issue on July 12 or 13. If you support the bike lanes, please write your councillor (you can find your councillor and his or her e-mail address here). You might consider cc'ing all of the "mushy middle" councillors and the hard-line Ford supporters who previously voted for the installation of the bike lanes in 2009.1 Their votes will decide this.

Also, give the mayor a call at 416-397-FORD. He claims to be hearing only from people who want the lanes gone, but I doubt that's entirely accurate.

In any case, here is the e-mail I sent to my councillor, Kristyn Wong-Tam, and the others mentioned above:

Dear Councillors,

I am writing to express my concern about the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee's recommendation to remove the Jarvis bike lanes, and to you urge to oppose that measure when it comes before Council. As a driver, a cyclist, a resident of the neighbourhood, and a taxpayer, I strongly believe that such a move would be a big mistake.

I live on Jarvis, so I have seen first-hand the dramatic improvement resulting from the addition of the bike lanes. The reality is that cars and bikes are coexisting much better than they ever had before.

I drive on Jarvis daily, and my observation is that traffic has not become noticeably worse since the centre lane was removed. The recent staff report supports this view, demonstrating that average travel times have increased only slightly. It also makes recommendations for advance left turn signals that could address what congestion does exist.

The same report shows that, while vehicle traffic has not been reduced at all, bike volume has tripled since the lanes were installed, increasing Jarvis's total capacity by almost 5%. This is great news for everyone: The gridlock problem we face in Toronto will only be ameliorated by using our limited infrastructure more efficiently.

Moreover, I'm very worried that removing the bike lanes will just add that new bike traffic back into the vehicle lanes, slowing them down as a result. Separating bike and vehicle traffic allows both to travel better, keeping bicyclists safe and drivers moving.

What concerns me most is the apparent rush to push through a decision on removing the bike lanes, without due consideration or any kind of consultation with the public. Even my local councillor was cut out of any discussion before the Committee's decision.

Does the proposal to remove the bike lanes even include a plan for what to do with the road space that would be recovered? If it does, the public hasn't been told, and we certainly don't know what it would cost. The indications are that it could be very expensive, indeed. The disrespect for taxpayers, and for citizens of the area in particular, is galling.

Once again, I urge you to please vote against the removal of the Jarvis bike lanes.
[1] Thanks to Ford for Toronto for the full list:,,,,,,,,,,,,


oskyldig said...

I was under the impression that they weren't being scrapped but rather re-located to Sherbourne or another street that's quite close that is more "sustainable."

If I'm wrong, please do correct me!

Dave said...

There are already bike lanes on Sherbourne and Jarvis. The Public Works Committee recommended several measures independently, including removal of the Jarvis Lanes and an upgrade to the Sherbourne lanes (physically separating them from traffic as part of the "Mayor's Bike Plan").

It might make sense to do the upgrades on Sherbourne (currently the lanes there are in terrible shape), and see if that reduces bike traffic on Jarvis. If it did, a case could be made for removing the Jarvis lanes. But removing them now would be premature, at best.