Photo by TObike from the Torontoist Flickr Pool.
It’s been a busy day for the Gardiner. First, Waterfront Toronto announced plans to dismantle a section of the expressway from Jarvis to the Don Valley Parkway, with David Miller formally scrapping the planned Front Street Extension. And then, late Friday afternoon, more than two hundred cyclists rolled up the Jarvis Street ramp to slowly and steadily (and illegally) take the entire westbound expressway over.
The cyclists were part of Critical Mass, the huge group cycle that takes place on the last Friday of every month in Toronto and around the world. According to Martin Reis, who was in the pack, the decision to ascend the ramp onto the Gardiner Expressway was spontaneous (even though it bears some resemblance to a similar but much smaller Los Angeles freeway ride from two weeks ago), and was not intended to be a huge statement: as Reis put it, the groupthink was more along the lines of “Here we are. Let’s take the Gardiner.”
The cyclists started off in the merging lane, then gradually took over the rest of the lanes, controlling all of them by about the time they reached York Street. “We basically became like one giant automobile,” Reis says. Fellow participant Nick Syperek told Torontoist that “it was exhilarating to see Toronto from that angle.” Reis saw no confrontations between cyclists and motorists, characterizing the entire thing as “very very civilized, [and] very peaceful.”
About twenty minutes after their trip began, police officers funneled the cyclists off the expressway and onto the Dunn Avenue off-ramp. (The Star says they rode all the way from Jameson Avenue to Dunn, which is a 200 metre trip and would have been a little less fun than the 7 kilometres west from Jarvis to Dunn.) The Star also reported that one man was arrested—according to Reis, it was a younger man who refused to follow police orders and seemed to have tried to get past the cop cars (Reis has heard rumours that that man has since been fined and released). At least two more participants—including Angela Bischoff, Tooker Gomberg’s widow—confronted police officers and were ticketed.
But no matter. Today was, Reis happily pointed out to us, participant Derek Chadbourne’s birthday. Chadbourne runs The Bike Joint on Harbord, and was ecstatically pronouncing the impromptu Gardiner trip the best birthday present he could’ve gotten.
More photos from Torontoist’s Flickr Pool in the slideshow below.