Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Jarvis Bike Lane dead. Ford's war on cyclists continues

Jarvis Bike Lanes Saved for One Year, Birchmount and Pharmacy Bike Lanes to be Removed - Torontoist
Today, Toronto City Council voted 28-9 in favour of removing the Jarvis, Birchmount and Pharmacy bike lanes.

Excerpt from the link:
As per the language in today's city council agenda, this decision does
not follow any recommendation or guidance provided by staff or outside
planning consultants. It is the result of implementing the mayor's
preferred approach to cycling infrastructure
—"a 100 km network of
off-street bike trails and completion of critical on-street bike lane
connections where the community supports them and where they do not
impede traffic flow"—itself not a policy that resulted from any
environmental assessments, traffic studies, or advice from urban
planning experts
(at least not any on public record).

As a cyclist who rides every day all over the city, I am usually riding to get from one location to another (as opposed to recreational cycling). So, I need to travel on the quickest, shortest, most direct routes. Due to this need, I'm often travelling on routes that are popular for cars as well. When there is a bike lane, that is a bonus, and it also makes it safer for those who aren't as experienced. To build a network of off-street bike trails is counter-productive. Most current off-street bike trails, and places where they could build more off-street bike trails, are out of the way and don't follow directions I need to take back and forth across the city. And, for many who travel by bicycle now to and from work and school, off-street bike paths will be inconvenient as well. Rob Ford and his war-on-cyclist supporters don't understand this issue. They don't listen to the facts and studies about cycling and cycling routes. And, for all their bluster about a gravy-train and wasteful spending, they certainly are not paying any attention to wasteful spending. It would be far more useful, efficient and cost effective, to put bike lanes on well-used routes for cyclists, than to build a large network of bike lanes in out-of the way places where they will not be used by the majority of cyclists in the city.

It will cost a lot of money to remove bike lanes that currently exist and are not causing any problems on the roads. It will cost much more to build a network of off-street routes that will not be used by most cyclists. Neither of these projects will solve any problems of car gridlock or bicycle safety, and they will not improve traffic conditions for cars or cyclists. The solution would be to build on the existing network of bike lanes, not tear them down.

More views, news and ideas on this topic at:
The Reeves Report: Compromising on Bike Lanes at Toronto City Hall: Pt. II

The Jarvis vote: what the hell happened?

Those who supported the elimination responded by generally just wandering around the council chamber and not listening. The hundreds of taxpayers who came to City Hall to support maintaining the lanes were dismissed by some councillors — notably Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday — as “bike people.”

Toronto Star: Council Votes to Scrap Jarvis Bike Lane
Many of the councillors who wanted to save the lanes walked out of City Council before the final vote, resulting in a lopsided, 28-9 vote in favour of killing the lanes. [Note: that would be 8 councillors, who after 7 hours of debate with 27 councillors and 1 mayor who were going to vote to remove the lane for no reason, and could not be reasoned with, walked out in disgust.]
Also of note from the Global video story is that there are a number of Bixi bike stations installed on Jarvis. Jarvis is a busy cycling route and it has become 3x as busy as it was a year ago. And Bixi rentals are booming. So, here is yet another reason to keep the Jarvis bike lane.
One of the councillors pushing for the bike lanes to be removed was Coun. Denzil Minnan-Wong. He said it would be safer for cyclists and motorists to have separate bike lanes away from major streets.
This is unbelievable. I've read many news accounts of the vote and this is the only reason for removing the lane? If this is the reasoning, why are they not removing all the lanes that still exist on major streets downtown? And why are they going to build a fancier lane on Sherbourne then? The real reason they removed the lane is out of spite for the previous, Miller, administration.

How council voted
Voted to remove the bike lanes (28):
Paul Ainslie, Ana Bail√£o, Michelle Berardinetti, Josh Colle, Gary Crawford, Vincent Crisanti, Mike Del Grande, Frank Di Giorgio, Doug Ford, Rob Ford, Mark Grimes, Doug Holyday, Norman Kelly, Chin Lee, Gloria Lindsay Luby, Giorgio Mammoliti, Mary-Margaret McMahon, Peter Milczyn, Denzil Minnan-Wong, Ron Moeser, Frances Nunziata (Chair), Cesar Palacio, John Parker, James Pasternak, Jaye Robinson, David Shiner, Karen Stintz, Michael Thompson
People of Toronto: If one of these people is your councillor, please ask them what reason they had to vote to remove the lanes - lanes that provided a more safe cycling route, that had shown increased cyclist traffic, that showed no decrease in car traffic, and would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to remove and zero dollars to let them remain. We deserve a real answer.

It is interesting to note that in all the news stories about this vote in council, and, although the issue was debated for many hours, there are no reasons cited from the side that voted to remove the lanes for removing the lanes. Outrageous.

Some media has spun the story to say that this was a win for cyclists (wtf?!) - since the Jarvis bike lane with stay there for a year while the Sherbourne lane is revamped. But no, this is a loss for cyclists and a loss for reason, and taxpayers, and logic.

Voted against removing the bike lanes (9):
Maria Augimeri, Raymond Cho, Glenn De Baeremaeker, John Filion, Mary Fragedakis, Josh Matlow, Joe Mihevc, Gord Perks, Anthony Perruzza

Walked out in protest (would have voted against removing the bike lanes) (8):
Shelley Carroll, Janet Davis, Sarah Doucette, Paula Fletcher, Mike Layton, Pam McConnell, Adam Vaughan, Kristyn Wong-Tam

What it cost to install the Jarvis Bike Lane originally: $59,000
How much it will cost to remove it: $200,000
How much it will cost to remove the Birchmount and Pharmacy bike lanes: $210,000
Total addition to Rob Ford's Gravy Train: $469,000
Reason for removing the lanes: none.


Mark Richard Francis said...

The only reason why Ford is supporting bike lanes in ravines and hydro corridors is to be able to tell non-cyclists that he's doing something for those pesky cyclist. There's no usable hydro corridors downtown. Ditto with the ravines. Ravines tend to run north-south, not east-west, anyway. It's a political plan, not a practical one, and is, as such, gravy.

Mark Richard Francis said...

Note that some voted to get rid of the Scarborough bike lanes but keep the Jarvis ones. I believe the diff was over local wishes.

Thor said...

There were studies on the use of the bike lanes after they were put in. On Jarvis, ridership tripled in a year. I think that they found only few used the lanes in Scarborough.

But, why remove any of them at all if the removal will cost so much and the lanes are not causing any harm to traffic congestion or neighbourhoods?