2011 Bikeway Network • Part Three: Defending the Jarvis bike lane

Today at City Hall (Thursday), the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee (PWIC) will be discussing, debating and voting on a package of proposals for Toronto’s bike network.  Some of the report is really positive, and some of it is a huge step backwards for Toronto. I’m writing a few quick blog posts about some of the highlights of the report.

You can also read responses from the Toronto Cyclists Union, Torontoist, Toronto Star and iBikeTO.

Part Three: Defending the Jarvis bike lane

I’ve spent most of the last week talking about bike lanes on John Street.  I’d like to shift gears and discuss a much more important – and imminent – situation on another “J” street – Jarvis.

While the staff report does not recommend removal of these lanes, we have all heard the rumours that some members of Council want to see these bike lanes disappear.  It is very likely that we’ll see a motion to amend the staff report, to remove the lanes.  The motion could come at City Council (July 12/13) or could come at today’s PWIC meeting.

As you may recall, the Jarvis bike lanes were approved in 2009 and were the result of an enormous advocacy effort.  Opponents felt that the bike lanes would create traffic chaos on the street – but those fears have not materialised.  Rather, the staff report indicates that traffic disruption has been minimal:

“Travel time increased by approximately two minutes in both directions following the installation of teh bike lanes in the a.m. peak hour and by three to five minutes in both directions in the p.m. peak hour.  Much of the increaed travel time could be attributed to the delays and queus experience in at the jarvs  Gerrard intersection…….The introduction of an advanced left turn phase in the northbound direction at this intersection, scheduled this summer, will reduce the delays.”

But here’s an even more interesting figure:

Traffic counts on Jarvis Street, before and after the installation of the bikelanes, show no change in car trips but a 300% increase in bike trips!  The number of cyclists jumped from 290 (per 8-hour period) to 890 (in the same period).

(note: these counts were done by City Staff  – not by consultants.  So I trust them).

If these lanes are removed, all 890 of those bike trips will either have to find a new route – or be forced into a dangerous situation.  Jarvis was a nightmare to ride on before the bike lanes were installed.

Cyclists should be getting ready for a big fight.  Losing Jarvis would be the worst set-back in cycling safety in the history of Toronto.  It would put hundreds of riders at risk, and would set a horrible precedent in the downtown core.  It would also be a slap in the face for two reasons:

1) Unlike the removal of the lanes on Birchmount and Pharmacy, this removal is NOT being proposed by the local Councillor – Kristyn Wong-Tam.  This would be an attack on her role as Councillor, and undermines her legitimacy as an elected representative.

2) The mayor himself was asked during the 2010 election if he would remove the Jarvis lanes if elected.  His answer was no.  He said it would be a waste of money.  I agree.  The mayor has been quite good at keeping his election promises.  He should keep this one too.

In 2009, we were able to organise over 100 cyclists to gather in the chamber for the vote.  This time, we’ll need 1,000.  Every network, every list, every blog should be put into action.  We’ll need to hand out flyers to every single one of those 900 cyclists who are using the bike lanes.  Volunteers will need to talk to students, parents and teachers at Jarvis Collegiate.  We need to talk to business owners, the BIA and resident groups.

Personally, I’d rather focus my energies on supporting the good parts of the mayor’s bike plan (Richmond, Bloor East, Dawes Road, etc).  But if they try to remove Jarvis, it will overshadow anything positive in the staff report and we’ll be forced into an important battle to defend our rights to safe streets.

Some people may paint us as being “unreasonable” for not “compromising”.  But there is no room for compromise on this issue  – because there is no practical reason to remove these lanes.  To be clear, if a bikelane was installed on a major street – and no cyclists were using it, AND it was creating traffic chaos, then perhaps there would be room for discussion.  But neither of those conditions apply to Jarvis.

There is no traffic chaos – and there are over 600 new cyclists EACH DAY using the street.  Bike lane removal on Jarvis is nothing short of insanity.  It’s an ideology-driven, politicised, opportunistic political stunt that will literally put lives at risk.

Please mark July 12 and 13 in your calendars.  This is when you’ll be needed at City Hall. These bike lanes won’t save themselves. Everyone is going have to step up to the plate.

Part One: Birchmount and Pharmacy
Part Two: Separated lanes on Richmond and Bloor
Part Three: Defending the Jarvis bike lane

23 responses to “2011 Bikeway Network • Part Three: Defending the Jarvis bike lane

  1. Jarvis bike lanes were the biggest mistake, they turned bike lanes into a wedge issue. All for some bike lanes which are redundant and they end in dumb places.

  2. I’ve seen some get the door prize before the bike lanes were added! It did not cost $6,000,000.00 as some idiot mentioned…

  3. Pingback: 2011 Bikeway Network • Part Three: Defending the Jarvis bike lane (via Mez Dispenser) « Chris Drew Consulting

  4. Well, the Jarvis bike lanes are now as good as gone. There is no way they will survive a council vote now that the PWIC has decided to get rid of them.

    I think we should all at least resolve that Minnan-Wong is an enemy to cyclists, not a friend. He does not deserve our support.

  5. I’m trying to look at it from many different angles but I simply can’t understand why they want to tear up lanes on Jarvis street. Also numbers (according to the graph) are supporting cyclist, people obviously want and need this lane, cars also don’t have any troubles with the presence of cyclists.
    Is this just pure war for power or somebody is trying to win some bet or what? The way I see it, after cancelling Jarvis st. lane it will be defeat for everybody, no matter if they use bikes or cars.

  6. eduardo bernard

    I live on Jarvis south of Gerrard and have never thought that the bike lanes were a good idea. I do have a car but almost never drive it on Jarvis as I travel east. I am an avid rollerblader and cyclist as well. You might even call me a pinko for that matter.

    I can see the rush hour traffic from my balcony and I do not believe that the increase in time is only 2-5 minutes. And considering that you should drive Jarvis in less than ten minutes, an increase of 5 minutes is an increase of at least 50%. For the 12000 drivers that commute from midtown Jarvis is the best and perhaps the ony option.

    As for the number of cyclists I don’t think it is worth considering that you can actually use the bike lanes only 4 months of the year. I have always thought that building separate bike lanes on Sherbourne would be a wiser decision that would benefit drivers and cyclists alike.

    I support Ford on this one. As for the scrapping of the LRT and building a subway line instead, I think it is the worst decision that will cost the city dearly. For a Major who wants to save money, this decision alone will destroy his cost cutting goals.

  7. Pingback: REVISED: Finding your way through City Hall | Mez Dispenser

  8. eduardo- if you’re only biking 4 months out the year I’m not sure you’ll really a cyclist.
    This is Toronto- we barely get any snow and it’s not that cold here, it’s perfect for biking all year- relative to other Canadian cities, anyway.
    I think this decision is ridiculous- after all of the money spent to install these lanes, and after all of Ford’s ridiculous campaigning about not wasting city money- what is this? it’s a total waste of money and a complete slap in the face to cyclists. When are we going to start to open our eyes and ears up to making good changes to this city? I feel so embarrassed to live in Toronto when this kind of crap happens.

  9. I work on Jarvis and I use this bike lane every work day, year round. I feel sick about the idea of tearing up these lanes and being in danger again. Thanks to the bike advocates who are fighting to save Jarvis.

  10. Mez,

    Do you have a link to the City staff report? I would be interested in reading it.

    Thank you!

  11. Pingback: Who will be the champion of Toronto’s bike network? | The General Ledger

  12. Such. A. Disappointment. Did anyone else notice the bike traffic count cordons they had up in May when there were a half dozen constructions projects going on? I hope they don’t use the counts from that time to make a case that the lane isn’t highly used.

  13. The John and Jane (is this a conspiracy by elementary school reader authors?) Streets’ bicycle stats have been smudged; there are traffic tie-ups here after our major venues clear out and on the way to and from working in the downtown core that just do NOT occur to the same extent in other great cities; we’re spending literally billions of dollars WE DON’T HAVE to resurrect a 115-year-old public transit technology that’s guaranteed to keep us 40 years behind-times in the movement of commuters instead of looking over state-of the art to see what is possible in new and up-to-date technology. And yet there are those, (including the morons who label me a “car lover”) who think that our traffic planning department and the planning department of the Toronto Transit commission really do know what they’re doing. But judging by results throws suspicion on that belief; and in my typical straightforward controversy-invitation style, I’ll reiterate my own judgment that ‘knowing what they are doing’ is patently NOT the case. And neither, by the way, do the specific lobbies for any of the varieties of vehicles that have a lobby -including the cyclists– for the simple reason that their solutions are by necessity limited in scope and inclusiveness and vision because they are tunnel-visioned by selfish interests.

    [Those who disagree vehemently with me --and by now, that probably includes most of you-- are invited to look over the following comments about traffic planning in Toronto so they can really agree with each other that I have no idea what I'm talking about. But consider before you join that belief that some folks have dismissed my comments in the past to their sorrow. My track record is extensive in showing an ability to discover remedial technology for most of our urban ills here in Toronto. But if these continue to be ignored, it will be to our own detriment. It's time to wake up and get proactive about remedies and stop the complaining. Getting proactive means taking the responsibility those folks who challenged the traffic stats took, but if they are sure about their findings, it also means to go one step further and paint the damn street (perhaps initially with removable paint until the city and the press that runs the city get the idea).

    Since our community pools have been reduced by 50% because we can't afford to pay for them, drownings of city kids has increased over 200%. I had devised and published the means to keep them open. The Ford family has threatened to sell off 900 units of public housing (which will put 900 families potentially on the street when we already have ten families waiting for every available assisted housing space). Of course, they won’t carry through with that, and you’ll probably hear no more about it because by now somebody has informed them that it’s an incredibly stupid idea --apparently they weren't capable of coming to that conclusion on their own. In my previous writings, I had devised ways to increase available housing and enrich the city with it. There are further calamities waiting to befall the city under what is turning out to be a leadership with questionable ideas while the deficit --which the Mayor got elected by promising to decrease-- continues to rise; and still to date, the only ideas that could put a meaningful dent in it that have been put forward to date have been my own as I have published them over past years in various political essays on my websites. The city is still looking for properties it owns that it can sell, leaving it more and more lacking in viable resource capital. We are still in a downward economic spiral.]

    The saddest part of our current traffic situation is the deleterious effect of a less-than-compos traffic planning department leadership on citizens. The length of suffering time it takes until the results of this poor planning are known and the time it takes to apply any relief is criminal. We pay billions of dollars to remediate disasters, and often apply the remedies to other traffic planning disasters that are no remedies at all.

    The city’s traffic planning department COULD make a difference in actually creating a smooth flow of traffic in Toronto for all varieties of vehicles, because they have the expertise on board to do it. But they do not. Haven’t you questioned yourself about that? Perhaps you should. Answers you can research would help you understand why potholes and broken city property don’t get repaired, why you put yourself at financial risk or physical peril when you move to Toronto, purchase or rent a property, walk out the front door to get on your bike, get into your car, take a public transit vehicle, or just decide to walk; and why the city seems powerless to make changes that would make life for you here more comfortably livable while you and your neighbours can think up some viable solutions to city financial management and traffic flow in a five-minute conversation over coffee.

    While Toronto’s traffic management is notoriously inept, it’s important to note that there are other cities ‘out there’ who interpret traffic management to mean creating a smooth, safe and cooperative MOVING traffic environment. When it finally occurs to us to effect necessary changes at home and somebody can steer the traffic planners in the right direction, those (brighter) folks will provide exemplary models for us to incorporate into our own Toronto to alleviate the current mess. Instead of inviting a whole bunch of these cities here to give us advice, we could just send a few traffic planners to them to find out how to do it right, then give them the word to go ahead and do it.

    But don’t despair for our fair city. Be positive. Be optimistic. Some day in the future, somebody in the traffic planning department surely has got to have a moment of enlightenment with the realization that getting traffic to actually move gracefully through the city –all kinds of traffic– is a superior way to management than DELIBERATELY GUMMING THINGS UP in the hopes that automobile traffic in particular will be so fed up with the resultant mess it has to contend with that it will GO AWAY forever all by itself, and people will just simply stop driving cars in the city. There are actually people who believe this nonsense and think it’s a great ecological idea! They are shallow thinkers.

    Where does GUM UP thinking originate?

    It’s a leftover mentality from the ‘seventies, before the advent of sustainable automobile development, when cars were seen as evil purveyors of smog and the best way of coping with them was to ban them from downtown streets (although nobody mentioned that the same smog would affect the non-downtown streets.) And it comes from a less prevalent but even stupider idea that since traffic jams are composed mostly of cars, the best way to get rid of them is to get rid of cars altogether. It’s also a result of a gripe bicyclists –who unrealistically believe they are saving the world by riding a bike instead of taking a car (not unlike the flea floating down the river on his back with an erection shouting, “here I come! Raise the drawbridge!”) — have against automobile traffic because of the danger posed to bicycles by automobile traffic.

    We’ll know our optimism has been rewarded when thousands of traffic signs disappear, the street names are done black on white with numbers on them again, neighbourhood one-way streets become one-way all the way through, 40 km zones are restricted to school and retirement homes streets again, speed bumps are replaced with random speed detectors and the vehicle owners subject to fines and seizing of their vehicles for speeding regardless of who is driving them (except if they’re stolen), all major thoroughfare routes capable of being made one-way become timed-stoplight one-ways to relieve rush hour traffic on the expressways, curbed-off streetcar right-of ways disappear with the streetcars having been replaced with electric buses, when traffic becomes electronically monitored, and sophisticated computer programs manage the stoplights on two way streets, when pedestrian crosswalks disappear except at retirement residences, shopping malls, and schools because the one-way major streets where traffic travels in packets don’t need them…on at least on three of their four or more lanes during rush hour, since one lane has been hoarded off with a concrete traffic barrier and divided into two-way bicycle/skateboard/etc lanes and the opposite side lane is used for free street parking for shoppers/visitors to the areas now being starved by limited in-curb parking which will be removed, when the supporting structures for the Gardiner Expressway are replaced without steel rebar to prevent future spalling. We’ll know it arrived when all forms of traffic, including bicycles, drive courteously and obey the traffic laws they must ALL learn in order to be licenced vehicle operators.

    It’s puzzling to us ordinary folk how our traffic planners must go to university to learn how to make traffic move and then get jobs where somebody really must be telling them their expertise will be used to gum it all up. Isn’t that selling out?

  14. Pingback: Dissecting Mayor Ford’s Jarvis letter | Mez Dispenser

  15. Pingback: Dissecting Mayor Ford’s Jarvis Letter – Dave Meslin | dandyhorse magazine

  16. Murray Lumley

    Would Mark State say what he/she has to say with a lot fewer words please?

  17. You should put your before and after car and bike trips on the same graph -it would show that the number of bike trips, and hence person trips by bike, is minimal (before or after the bike lanes). As presented, the graphs are misleading.

  18. Pingback: In Praise of Apathy | scott dagostino

  19. Pingback: Kites and Bikes: Two approaches at City Hall | Mez Dispenser

  20. Pingback: 2011 Bikeway Network – Part Three: Defending the Jarvis bike lane – Dave Meslin | dandyhorse magazine

  21. Pingback: 2011 Bikeway Network • Part Three: Defending the Jarvis bike lane (via Mez Dispenser) | Chris Drew

  22. I’m not sure where you’re getting your info, but good topic.
    I needs to spend some time learning more or understanding more.
    Thanks for fantastic information I was looking for this info for my mission.

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