Photo by Michael Chrisman/Torontoist.
Surprising his colleagues, assembled cycling activists, and Torontonians at large, Councillor John Parker (Ward 26, Don Valley West) moved a motion late this afternoon at the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee calling for the removal of the Jarvis Street bike lanes. Installed less than a year ago after much controversy and heated debate, the Jarvis lanes have served as something of a symbol for mounting tensions between cyclists and those who would prefer to keep roadways primarily, if not exclusively, the domain of cars. The majority of Parker’s colleagues agreed that the lane is problematic, and the committee has just voted 4-2 to proceed with the removal. Voting in favour: John Parker, Mark Grimes (Ward 6, Etobicoke Lakeshore); David Shiner (Ward 24, Willowdale); and committee chair Denzil Minnan-Wong (Ward 34, Don Valley East). Voting against: Gord Perks (Ward 14, Parkdale-High Park) and Mike Layton (Ward 19, Trinity-Spadina).
In a report released earlier this month, City examined the impact the installation of the bike lanes had had on traffic of all type on Jarvis [PDF]. From that report:
- Prior to the installation of bicycle lanes on Jarvis Street, the volume of cyclists in both directions averaged approximately 290 in total during the peak eight hours on a weekday.
- Following the installation of the bicycle lanes, the eight hour volume of cyclists increased to approximately 890 on average, an increase in volume of over three times.
- Vehicle traffic counts on Jarvis Street prior to the installation of bike lanes in both directions averaged approximately 13,000 vehicles in total during the same eight hour period.
- Following the installation of bike lanes, the vehicle volumes remained approximately the same, averaging over 13,000 vehicles in both directions during this eight hour period.
Condemnation from the cycling community is coming in fierce and fast. Dave Meslin, founder of the Toronto Cyclists Union and founding publisher of cycling magazine dandyhorse tweeted: “I’ve been involved with bike activism for 14 yrs. Without doubt, this has been the worst day I’ve ever seen… TO’s cyclists just got run over by amalgamation. Suburban councillors have declared a War on the Bike.”
The bike lane runs through Ward 27, represented by Kristyn Wong-Tam. She too was both surprised and aghast at this move: “As the local councillor I wasn’t asked, nor was my community consulted… My community deserves to have a say.”
Today’s decision by the Public Works Committee is not final: it will need to be approved by the full city council at its next meeting, which will be held July 12–13.