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11 Comments

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Activist Seeks Drivers in Favour of Jarvis Street Bike Lanes

If you drive, and like Jarvis Street the way it is, Dave Meslin wants to hear from you.

Image courtesy of Dave Meslin.

Last summer, when city council unceremoniously voted to remove the Jarvis Street bike lanes (after very ceremoniously voting to install them the summer before, while David Miller was still in office) it seemed as though supporters of the lanes were all out of options. Mayor Rob Ford still had a solid council majority, and even though bike-friendly councillors managed to wrangle a temporary reprieve—the removal wouldn’t happen until separated bike lanes could be installed on neighbouring Sherbourne Street—it was pretty clear that Jarvis was eventually going to be restored to the state it was in before 2010, when, instead of the bike lanes, it had a reversible fifth lane for car traffic.

Implicit in the decision to remove the bike lanes was a notion that most drivers wanted that fifth lane, and that they were pissed that it was gone. But activist Dave Meslin doesn’t think that was ever necessarily the case, and now, with the support of the Toronto Cyclists Union, he’s launching a publicity campaign to prove his point.

Drivers for Jarvis, as the campaign will be known, will be launching officially tomorrow on the Cyclists Union’s website, but Meslin debuted it on his personal blog earlier today. It features pictures like the one at the top of this post, of drivers who, for various reasons, actually like the presence of bike lanes on Jarvis and would be disappointed to see them go. Meslin is encouraging any drivers who might want to lend their image and their story to the project to get in touch with him personally.

With council’s support for the mayor’s car-friendly agenda looking ever shakier, there may never have been a better time for an initiative like this one, but Meslin knows success is far from certain. The Cyclists Union has been organizing to save the Jarvis bike lanes for quite some time, without a breakthrough. This is only the latest effort.

“We kind of went out on a limb,” he admitted during a phone interview, “because there was a chance drivers would say, ‘Whoa, we want the middle lane back.’”

“But everything’s worth a shot at this point,” he added. “The bike lanes are still there. If they get ripped out, I think it’ll be pretty hard to get them back in.”

“Really, it’s just about trying to shift the way people view the issue. Because there’s been an effort by some to make it seem like a bikes versus cars issue.”

Comments

  • Nick

    The fifth lane was just confusing, anyway, and traffic would be blocked behind left-turning cars in the switch lane. It makes no sense to bring it back at a cost of $250,000 and counting because as Minnan-Wong puts it “it is cool”. If the Ford cabal wants to improve traffic flow, then they should investigate putting in left turn lanes where appropriate, and perhaps just alterning the bike lanes in those areas. That’d be fiscally conservative thinking and respecting taxpayers (not to mention the 65000 people who live in the area and don’t want it to become a highway again). Re. this post, it’s an interesting campaign idea, and I’m glad it trying to bridge the cyclist-car divide!

  • Anonymous

    I was thinking about this… could Council now vote to reform the transportation and public works committees the same way it did the TTC, ejecting all of the Ford blowhards and installing intelligent, collaborative councillors in their place? Thereby bringing back bike lanes, scramble intersections, more support for Bixi and other common big-city/livable-city initiatives?

    What a wonder that would be….

  • http://www.facebook.com/matthew.d.alexander Matthew Douglas Alexander

    Check out the Facebook group Toronto Drivers Want Bike Lanes. I’ve moved out of the city, so I kind of want someone new to take over.

  • Tom

    Bring the 5th lane back….if people on bicycles knew how to obey the laws of the road it wouldn’t be an issue. People on bicycles forget if they are on a road, they must do everything a car does, signal, keep up to the speed limit, not cut anybody off, obey traffic signals. But apparantly that is forgotton when on a bike.

    • Anon

      If people in cars knew how to obey the laws of the road it wouldn’t be an issue. People in cars forget that if they are on a road, they must do everything a car should do – signal, keep up to the speed limit, not cut anybody off, obey traffic signals. But apparently that is forgotten when in a car.

    • Anonymous

      “keep up to the speed limit”

      Really?

      • Anonymous

        There are a few places where you can break a 30 km/h limit on a downhill. Maybe he meant those.

    • Anonymous

      It seems that the fifth lane, if it were built now, would not be in accordance with municipal traffic regs.

      I’m on a bike often and I never forget I’m on a road (when I actually AM on a road), I signal, I don’t cut people off, signal, obey signs and lights, etc. Most of all I’m looking out for dumb behaviour on the part of drivers (of which I am also one) and general obliviousness among pedestrians.

    • http://piorkowski.ca qviri

      And most importantly… take the full lane when necessary and required.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/HLRCR3L3E5XAFAW3K5D2FXLBXM Jack

    Mayor Ford has been quoted as saying “since bike lanes were installed on Jarvis St., traffic congestion on the street has increased ten fold.” As a resident living adjacent to the Jarvis/Isabella intersection,his statement is totally false.Traffic congestion has not changed on the stretch of Jarvis from Queen St to Mount Pleasant.Based on my driving experience,the only place where traffic congestion occurs is on Mount Pleasant north of St Clair and on the hill just south of St Clair.(far away from the the Jarvis bike lanes)
    As well,I would like to add that the centre lane that was removed with the installation of the bike lanes was confusing for motorists who were not used of driving on Jarvis.Specifically,on several occasions,I saw motorists trying to make a left hand turn from the centre lane when the traffic flow direction had changed.(potential accident)

  • Anonymous

    I love this idea because I, too, have encountered rational drivers who support bike lanes. They like the extra space which decreases the likelihood of accidents and want safe infrastructure for their loved ones and good friends who cycle as a way of getting around the city.