Salt in the Wound • Jarvis and the City’s bike budget

Over the last year, I’ve written extensively about the pending removal of the Jarvis bike lanes.  There are so many reasons why Council should back down on this plan: reasons related to safety, fair process, wasted dollars, and community support for Complete Streets.

Now, we can add another reason.  Not only is the removal of the Jarvis bike lanes a colossal waste of money (the lanes are brand new) – but guess where the money is coming from?  I’ve been able to confirm with the City that the money to REMOVE the lanes is being pulled directly out of the limited budget the City has to INSTALL bike lanes!  So not only are cyclists losing a major bike lane, serving 1000+ cyclists during rush hour, … but we’re seeing our own capital budget reduced at the same time.

Imagine if the province ripped out a subway line  – with no debate or consultation –  and then invoiced the TTC for the cost.  It would drain the TTC’s capital budget for building new lines.  Salt in the wound.

I feel terrible for the stellar City staff who are responsible for building bike lanes in our City.  Not only is our Bicycle Plan years behind schedule, but now they are being asked to spend their limited budget dollars to rip out the exact same bike lanes that they just spent money on a couple of years ago.

If Jarvis is being converted back into a five-lane highway, against the advice of staff, against the recommendation of the Environmental Assessment, against the will of the local Councillor, against the wishes of the local residents groups… shouldn’t the cost of removing the bike lanes come out of our highway budget?


34 responses to “Salt in the Wound • Jarvis and the City’s bike budget

  1. Kick 'em when they're down!

    Isn’t it the most obvious thing to kick someone only once you’ve knocked them down?

  2. Its not surprising that this City Administration keeps kicking cyclists when their down…remember, its the nasty, twisted, sectarian Denzil Minnan Wong that chairs the committee.

  3. Even though I’m a die-hard cyclist, I’m not one to demand bike lanes just because I feel the road can in fact be shared… it can just be a tad scary from time-to-time when you come across a bad driver (or even a bad cyclist in front of you). However, removing brand new bike lanes and using the budget to install bike lanes to do so? Wow. Just wow. Why is this even a debate? It really doesn’t matter whether you support bike lanes or not… they’re brand new bike lanes! This city really knows how to waste money.

  4. Those who want it removed should pay for it themselves (I’m fairly sure that’s similar to the refrain we heard from the Fordites over and over during the budget hearings last year…)

  5. This sounds like ford is stealing gravy from the poor measly bike budget! It is amazing how foolish and absurd this whole plan is, makes me think we are living in the least progressive city in the world…..

    • Exactly Steve!!!

      Certainly if the City of Toronto obliterates the paint-barely-dry cyclist/pedestrian/motorist-safer infrastructure (bike lanes) on Jarvis Street and returning it to that dangerously-antiquated five narrow-laned design (with the ridiculous overhead-signed, reversible center-lane feature) our hometown will be the laughing stock of the developed, actively-mobile, urban world.

      Mayor Rob Ford is already fast becoming the globally recognized poster boy for all that hampers the safe, efficient, sustainable transportation of citizens and their goods in a vitally congested, 21st century urban environment, not the rational, doable solutions for Toronto’s still growing mobility crisis.

      If the Mayor and Minnan-Wong and Parker and Shiner and Grimes et al succeed in knowingly making our streets LESS SAFE by REMOVING improved, less risk-inducing infrastructure, they will forever be perceived as the fools they will have proved themselves to be.

      If it can be shown that they did this for no other reason than to placate a partisan political base, then what they will have done could be argued to be criminally corrupt. And will be.

      Watch for the upcoming feature doc on the subject, “WITH FRIENDS LIKE ROB FORD…”, a rough cut of which is expected for mid-October.

      In the meantime please walk, ride and – when necessary – drive with care out on our streets today. Let’s all work together to make sure we get home safely this evening, eh? ( :-)

  6. More and more, this sounds worthy of civil disobedience…

  7. TCU/CT and other special interest groups filled those meetings with cyclists. So opinions are biased.

    Why should only local people have a say? not all users of Jarvis Streets are from withinin 1-2 km of Jarvis Street.

    I live in Guildwood (Scarborough), I own a business near/on Jarvis Street area. My delivery trucks that bring the supplies to my business use Jarvis. 7 out of 10 junior staff live downtown, the other 3 don’t. why shouldn’t those 3 junior staff have a say?

    Why is it that same downtown cyclist special interest group gets upset when cyclists get bothers/bike lanes get blocked, yet it is ok for car/ruck drivers and pedestrians to be blocked? others are ok but touching them is a crime?

    If I am driving down Jarvis from Charles and Jarvis is closed/blocked at Carlton, I would turn east on Carlton, south on Mutual and East on Gerrard/Dundas/etc…until I am able to get back on Jarvis. I could also go east on Carlton and south on Church. Are you getting the picture?

    Mutual/Church/Victoria/Yonge, Sherbourne/Parliament/Sackville are all parallel to Jarvis

    King/Queen/Richmond/Adelaide/Dundas/Gerrard/Carlton/College/Wellesley are all parallel to Bloor Street

    Harbord Street is an alternative west of QPC for Bloor Street West.

    There is ALWAYS an alternative. Drivers are forced to take those alternatives when their route of choice is blocked/closed.

    • Q: the last time your car lane got blocked, did it put your life in danger?

    • What you don’t seem to be addressing here Vidar is that ALL streets in Toronto must be made reasonably safe for cyclists. It is a cornerstone of our city’s urban transportation philosophy.

      Perhaps you are also unaware of how uniquely dangerous, especially, but not exclusively, for pedestrians and cyclists that antiquated five-lane design – with the out-dated overhead-signed reversible middle lane – was for decades before the bike lanes were installed.

      One of the worst streets for complaints about cyclists on the sidewalk in the six years I served on the Toronto Pedestrian Committee was Jarvis Street because of the often higher than legal level of speed motor vehicles would attain between traffic lights, compounded by the narrowness of the five, only three meter-wide lanes.

      The curb lanes are too narrow for a traditionally sized car to safely pass a cyclist within either of the curb lanes.

      No matter how many alternative routes you believe others should follow, removing the existing bike lanes on Jarvis will make that street less safe for all users of that particular street.

      And all to what possible benefit?

    • The Public Consultation Meeting:Jarvis Cultural Corridor was an open meeting which invited every, living, working, passing by, or even just knows about Jarvis St.

    • Re: Vidar
      The Public Consultation Meeting:Jarvis Cultural Corridor was an open meeting which invited every, living, working, passing by, or even just knows about Jarvis St.

  8. How can the City be allowed to use infrastructure money to dismantle an infrastructure? That’s crazy-making.

  9. A complete waste and a budgeting political power play. Cause and effect. The city will not gain a car lane by removing the bike lanes on both sides of Jarvis. They will gain two obstructed car lanes, because bicyclists will inevitably utilize a full lane on each side, now that they have been conditioned to use Jarvis as a thoroughfare. The removal of the lanes will invariably slow down car traffic at all times, and wreak havoc at rush hour, causing added frustration and conflict. You can’t give bicyclists something that works for both drivers and cyclists, something inarguably sustainable, then take it away against the people’s good will. And once a bicyclist is hit by a car on the bike laneless Jarvis, there will be a revolt, and it will be ugly. This issue is symbolic of so much more, and the city is watching.

    • Michael, I raised many of your excellent arguments in a meeting with the head of Transportation Services at the time last fall, and suggested that if they pulled the bike lane, today’s warrants would demand that sharrows be installed in the curb lanes on Jarvis if this farce ends badly. The city top transportation official told me that if he tried to put sharrows in on Jarvis, PWIC chair Denzil Minnan-Wong would make him remove them the next day. When pressed about the fact that this official’s job was to protect the street safety of Torontonians, the now-retired civil servant told me he hadn’t spoken up about the fact that the PWIC was knowingly recommending that City Council make the street less safe, he said he had declined to do so for fear of being “marched out the front door” despite 35 years of service.

  10. Of course The Mez is rightly indignant. What saddens me though is that after this special interest group is dealt with (and hopefully satisfied) the culture on Council that allowed it to happen in the first place will remain.

  11. Dave: You make a concise and wise point. I am a driver and as such I am far happier on a street with a bike lane. Safer for me and for the cyclists. There’s room for us all. I quoted your piece in my email to my Cllr, DMW. Be well and keep on keeping on.

  12. Pingback: Salt in the Wound • Jarvis and the City's bike budget | Mez Dispenser | Bicycle News Gator

  13. I didn’t realize that the Jarvis bike lanes had so recently been installed (I’m a TTC-er myself), so it does seem like a ridiculous waste of time and money– especially if the money being used has been put aside for the creation of lanes. But I’d assumed that the new lanes on Sherbourne were supposed to replace those on Jarvis… no? Although, I can’t say I have any knowledge as to why we needed to rip up the Jarvis ones and replace them with lanes on Sherbourne.

  14. I don’t care if they remove it or not, I’m still using Jarvis for cycling, as the nearby recommended route – Sherbourne is an absolute disgrace of a bike lane. If there isn’t a bike lane on Jarvis, I’m taking a whole lane.

  15. This one is for Vidar. As a fellow Guildwood resident, I’d like to tell you that I bike downtown everyday and take the Jarvis bikelane after following the Dundas East lane. These are the only passages for me along my 24km route where I feel safe. To be a cyclist in Toronto means that you navigate traffic at a much higher stress level than motorists. You are on constant look out for drivers cutting into a parking spot without looking for you, opening their car doors, riding on the worst part of the road that is full of potholes and sewers, looking out for j walkers, and I can go on. It’s an unfortunate state of affairs that many drivers are unaware of their fellow road users and it’s a necessity that Toronto facilitates safe access for cyclists. This particular bike lane has increased cycling by 300% meaning every day 1000 people use Jarvis not driving cars and instead reducing the number of people that sit in traffic with you and freeing up precious parking spaces for you. Instead of being angry at the cyclists that are alleviating your traffic, you should be angry at all the single occupancy vehicles that take up space and create more traffic. There are people who use the Jarvis bikelane that don’t live in the area as well. Considering I’m forced to bike 16km of the wretched Kingston Road everyday, I think you can detour onto an alternate route for a few blocks like everyone else does which quite honestly has nothing to do with bikelanes.

    • Chantelle, It is scary driving with cyclists for all the reasons you state it is scary driving with cars. You’re a brave person to do it. I love your point to Vidar. I was once complaining about the many pedestrians crossing the street late in a light cycle ( I was trying to turn) and a friend pointed out correctly – “don’t complain – be grateful – imagine all those people in cars!” Straightened me out about that for good!

  16. Fucking Rob Ford. Seriously. Worst Mayor in North America Ever. So glad I currently live in New York and not my decrepit, backwards-looking home town of Toronto.

  17. I really haven’t supported Jarvis bike lanes unless Sherbourne was all fixed up, and it’s not completely done yet, and it’s a waste of money to remove the Jarvis ones now they’re in and working ok.
    But it seems that there’s a new way of depleting the bike budgets going well beyond the gold-plated jobs of replacing on-street bike lanes with separations, and that’s to use the bike budget for things that are car-related. The proposed stoplight etc. at Dundas and Sterling not only fails to do anything about a Major cause of Ms. Morrison’s death, the too-sharp corner that needs bike markings/lanes, but all of its $170,000 thousand is coming from the bike budget, though that money could provided daycare to daycare bike lanes, including along Bloor, as it’s only $25,000 a km to repaint a road for bike safety.

  18. I am a cyclist commuter, but I drive a truck for work along the Jarvis corridor (from King to Charles) on a daily basis. I have been doing this for the past 5 years, and I must say that I have been quite relieved to have a dedicated bike lane rather than the previous 5 lane setup. I do not find that it affects traffic flow in any identifiable manner – if anything, it keeps things moving where otherwise one might have to slow or move left to accommodate a cyclist. I am surprised that other drivers would not be equally enthusiastic to have an area dedicated to sharing the road equitably. The last thing I would want to have happen is for my truck to infringe on a cyclist (or visa versa), since it is obvious that no one wins in that type of conflict. The bike lane makes for a modicum of breathing room. I am aghast that our collective tax dollars are going towards removal of this “ounce of prevention”.

  19. A lot of my personal training clients use the Jarvis bike lane to get to work each day. And many of these clients have lowered their blood pressure, reduced their body fat, and feel better about themselves as a result.
    In my opinion destroying this lane is uber short sighted, and proves that our city is being managed by dinosaurs

  20. I guess I’m out of the loop a bit, although I consider myself an avid cyclist.
    While I think it is quite none plus to remove the bicycle lanes on Jarvis. Is
    there not a bicycle lane running parallel on Sherbourne and as I speak
    it is physically being separated by a curb. This will be much safer than
    the painted lanes on Jarvis, which tend to disappear during heavy
    snow falls. Whereas the curbed bicycle lane on Sherbourne will have to be
    plowed separately. Eventually we will become more integrated with the
    internal combustion engine and a curbed bicycle lane is a major step.

  21. ACTUALLY, it was stupid to have a bike lane on JARVIS in the first place but there seemed to have been a religious frenzy to insist upon this. I advocated for a North-South bike lane NOT on Jarvis (hurray for Sherbourne…with the physically separated lanes) but it seemed that if you didn’t agree with what a highly outspoken group wants, you’re a “bike sinner”.

    Look, I ride a bike. I drive a car. There’s a place for both but not both on a THOROUGHFARE that must be used for high speed, high volume traffic. I don’t want to see bike lanes on the 401 because I don’t want to watch bicyclists being scraped up off of the pavement (including me!). Using a thoroughfare like Jarvis for bike lanes was just dumb in the first place.

    Maybe we should learn from this and actually encourage bike lanes to be set up appropriately in the right places with the right structures, like that on Sherbourne.

    • Jarvis Street is just that, a street. In a neighbourhood.

      It is not JUST an access route for others to drive though/by.

      Jarvis Street’s previous – and possibly future – antiquated, narrow 5-lane design runs diametrically counter to the modern complete-street philosophy advised/supported – not just by pedestrians, cyclists and most rational motorists – but by World Health Organization, Toronto Medical Officer of Health, Dr David McKeown And just two weeks ago, the Office of Ontario’s Chief Coroner, Dr Andrew McCallum also called for the limiting of urban speeds on arterials to no more than 40 kph.

      To many this seems ridiculous and many have said so publicly. But within ten years – maybe five – this policy will be in place.

      Toronto’s former head of Transportation Services has said that Jarvis Street was one of the most “uncomfortable” streets for cycling in the downtown core and will be again less safe for pedestrians and cyclists if this farce continues to its misguided conclusion.

      Again, bike lanes on Sherbourne – separated or not – will not make the retro-configured Jarvis any less dangerous, eh Maret?

      It is not a of alternative arbitrary cycling routes but of City Council’s responsibility to make ALL streets as reasonably safe for all users as need demands. This concept was put forward as far back as the 1998 Coroner’s report’s recommendation #13:

      “That The City of Toronto identify potentially dangerous locations for cyclists including high frequency accident locations and cyclist-identified problem areas where site specific improvements can be made to prevent bicycle collisions.”

      It took a dozen years to actually accomplish this on Jarvis Street. Why would we again want to reinstate the now-mitigated threat to life and limb?

    • “… but not both on a THOROUGHFARE that must be used for high speed, high volume traffic” That you would write this sentence, and consider Jarvis to be such, speaks volumes as to where you live, how you transport yourself, and how educated you are about cities. You could not be more wrong.

    • Re: ” I don’t want to see bike lanes on the 401″
      I don’t want to see a 401 at the door of where my kids go to school, where I live and do groceries, nor where seniors hang out with their friends.

  22. Urgent:Save Jarvis Bike Rally @ Allan Gardens Thurs. October 4th, 6PM
    Hi T.O friends… There will be a critical mass of bikes meeting @
    Allan Gardens on Thursday October 4th, 6PM for an evening ride to City
    Hall to save the Jarvis Street bike lanes
    The ride will be in memory of Jenna Morrison and Darcy Allan Sheppard
    (RIP). Invite your friends and family to this vigil ride. Bring bike
    signs, candles and your bells. peace~davis
    PS: There is a 30% chance of rain and 100% chance that the Jarvis
    Street Bike Lane will still be there…let’s keep it that way!!

    Read more: “Save Jarvis Street Bike Lane – Cyclists Deserve Your
    Respect!” :
    “Road-rage cabbie who hit cyclist jailed 2 years”:–road-rage-cabbie-who-hit-cyclist-jailed-2-years

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