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How to Save the Jarvis Bike Lanes


After a contentious and hyperbolic battle leading to their installation in 2010, the Jarvis Street bike lanes are back in the news. Following a surprise motion moved by Councillor John Parker (Ward 26, Don Valley West) at last week’s meeting of the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee, city council will once again discuss the future of Jarvis Street at its next meeting, on July 12 and 13.
The Toronto Cyclists Union has already launched a Save Jarvis campaign, and local cycling activists are working to mobilize the community and build support for maintaining the lanes, which are used by more than 900 cyclists every day. But, given the fiercely-divided nature of city council and the effectiveness with which Mayor Ford and his allies have built support for their pet issues, the question has to be asked: is there enough opposition on council to have a hope of saving the bike lanes?


Looking at the results from the original vote that approved the bike lanes in 2009 (by a margin of 28-16), as well as voting trends in this term of council, the answer is maybe. But it’s not going to be easy.
Let’s look at the data.
First, a quick disclaimer—this is all somewhat speculative. Councillors tend not to reveal their voting intentions publicly, so in some cases this amounts to little more than a best guess.
Based on the available voting records, public statements on the issue, and the results of related council votes, it so far looks like 17 councillors will vote in favour of keeping of the bike lanes, 18 will vote against, and 10 are undecided or uncommitted. To maintain the status quo, six of those 10 will need to vote against the motion to remove the lanes.
Surprisingly, seven councillors who are currently strongly aligned with Ford voted in favour of the bike lanes back in 2009. (The “‘Ford Nation’ Percentage” column on the right indicates to what degree a councillor has supported the mayor on major items. A 100 per cent score means the councillor has supported Ford on every significant vote.)
Of those who originally voted in favour of the bike lanes, Giorgio Mammoliti (Ward 7, York West), Mark Grimes (Ward 6, Etobicoke-Lakeshore) and Speaker Frances Nunziata (Ward 11, York South-Weston) are virtual locks to support the mayor, while others are more difficult to predict. Given the controversial nature of the lanes, and the long-simmering car-versus-bikes war that so captivates this city, it seems likely that some will have a very hard time making up their minds.
Contact information for all councillors is available on the City’s website. They’ll want to hear from you on this issue.
Matt Elliott writes Ford For Toronto, a blog that follows city politics in Toronto. A version of this chart first appeared there.

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