Jarvis Street Bike Lanes Under Threat

By Sarah Ripplinger

Cyclists pedaling along one side of the Jarvis Street bike lanes.

TORONTO, ON – Toronto City Council will debate and vote for or against a motion to remove the painted bike lanes along Jarvis Street next Tuesday and Wednesday.

Jarvis Street Bike Lanes Could Cease to Exist

The motion could mean the removal of the lanes, located on either side of the north-south running street, that have seen a three-fold increase in bike traffic since their creation almost a year ago.

The Toronto Public Works and Infrastructure Committee started the action by voting 4-2 in favor of removing the Jarvis bike lanes at a recent meeting. The final decision will be up to city council, which is heavily divided on the issue.

Before the lanes were created, about 290 cyclists in total biked along Jarvis Street on weekdays during the peak eight hours of the day. Since the creation of the bike lanes, that number has jumped to an average of 890 cyclists over an eight-hour peak period – a 300 percent increase.

The Toronto Cyclists Union has launched a Save Jarvis! campaign in the hopes of preserving the lanes. Dave Meslin, founder of the Toronto Cyclists Union, tweeted that he has “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.”

Mayor Rob Ford has been notoriously anti-bike, notably stating that “roads are built for buses, cars and trucks, not for people on bikes.”

Those against the lanes say they slow down traffic and would be better suited to a less arterial route.

A report by council staff shows that car traffic has remained the same – about 13,000 vehicles over an eight-hour period – since the lanes were established last July.

The other argument may have some merit. If Mayor Rob Ford does plan on implementing a bike plan that includes separated bike lanes on Sherbourne Street, which runs parallel to Jarvis Street.

Even if that was to come to pass, though, the lanes along Jarvis would continue to serve as an alternate route for cyclists. Certainly, closing them down before an alternative was made available would be premature.

What do you think? Share your thoughts on the Jarvis Street bike lanes debate by commenting below.

Originally published on momentummag.com.

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