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Zombie Cyclists Ride in Celebration of an Undead Bike Lane

Cyclists protested the impending removal of the Jarvis Street bike lanes with a special zombified edition of the monthly Critical Mass bike ride.

Friday night, a terrifying thing happened in the name of complete-streets activism: zombies on bikes.

Technically, the event was October’s edition of the monthly Critical Mass group bike ride. But it had taken on some additional meaning, thanks to city council’s recent decision to reject a last-minute bid to prevent the Jarvis Street bike lanes from being removed. In protest, some of Friday’s riders put on zombie makeup.

City council’s vote to push ahead with the Jarvis removal came earlier this month. It was a decision made despite a concerted campaign by Cycle Toronto to point out that the number of cyclists using the street has tripled since the lanes were installed, that collisions between pedestrians and cars have been down by 89 per cent, and that the street has been working well for all users, with a less-than-two-minute additional drive time for motorists. The decision was also made without any community consultation, and over the objections of the ward’s representative, Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam (Ward 27, Toronto Centre-Rosedale).

“We’re here today with the message that the Jarvis lanes will remain undead,” said Lynda Young, a representative of the Save Jarvis campaign. She and other members of the campaign were circulating among the zombified participants before the ride began. Their aim was to make it clear that Jarvis will remain an active route for cyclists—whether there’s a dedicated lane or not. “We want to also remind people to continue to support the work that Cycle Toronto is doing, advocating for safer streets in Toronto,” Young added.

Despite grey skies and a persistent drizzle, the crowd numbered between 125 and 150 participants by the 6:30 p.m. departure time, with perhaps a quarter noticeably “undead.” As the procession moved along Bloor Street to Jarvis, participants called out “Happy Zombie Friday!” to curious pedestrians, in a variation on Critical Mass’ usual greeting. And instead of “Braaains,” these zombies moaned “Laaanes” as they rode slowly by.

More than an hour after the ride had commenced, as the rain increased and cyclists began to peel off from the main pack to head their separate ways, Councillor Wong-Tam joined the rear of the pack as the procession moved up Jarvis Street on its third and final pass. She made small talk with her neighbours as the now-smaller mass moved back to Bloor Street, and she rode off with a small group when the mass dispersed in different directions at Bay and Bloor streets. But her tweet later that evening spoke volumes:

Photos by Martin Reis.


  • scunny

    “WE COULDN’T SAVE JARVIS!…” – CycleTORONTO’s pictured flyer.

    Correct me if I am wrong, but is citizen-safer road design not STILL in place on JARVIS STREET, today?

    Those paint-barely-dry bicycle lanes may have had their City Council-approval rescinded – effectively eliminating them from the two-dimensional political realm – but the street-level infrastructure remains.

    Everyday that it does, Jarvis Street functions more safely for ALL road users.

    And by definition, that makes TORONTO a safer place today than it will be
    when/if the corrupt partisan cabal running City Hall is successful with
    their oh-so-clever plot to remove the bike lanes.

    As such, this lifelong resident Torontonian – among others – will continue to do
    all that is legal and ethical to delay the removal of the safer road

    If however, the threatened inanity prevails, we will project a movingly accurate
    portrait of Toronto, Ontario, Canada as the sad dark mobility comedy that it has
    become over the past thirty years, and release that image to the world.

    Any politician or bureaucrat at any level, with sins of either commission or omission on this file will be forever branded so.

    A cyclist wronged NEVER forgets, eh?

    Please WALK, RIDE and – if necessary – DRIVE responsibly in and around town
    this week, folks!!! Despite the rain and the earlier dusk, let’s work
    together to ensure that we all make it home on time and in one piece. ( :-)

  • scunny

    What did then-Transportation Services chief, Gary Welsh have to say about Jarvis, eh?

    As it lays, JARVIS SAVES….blood, treasure and the urban environment. Why are we doing this?