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The Jarvis Bikelane is Doomed, and here’s why.

I didn’t like writing the title of this post, but the following HAS to be said.

We’re in danger of losing the 1-year-old Jarvis bikelanes as the Ford Mayoralty has shown that they believe (and they’re right) that the Torontonians that voted for Rob Ford and his idealogical counterparts voted for them to 1) reduce waste at city hall and 2) end the so-called “war on the car”

The Ford Mayoralty is catering to the drivers in Toronto.

The cycling advocacy community in Toronto (mainly the Bike Union) is pulling out all the stops to try and get City Council to “Save Jarvis” (as well as the bikelanes on Pharmacy and Birchmount avenues in Scarborough) by encouraging their members and people that bike on Jarvis to contact Rob Ford and their local councillors.

Does anyone else see the problem in this strategy, or is it just me?

Don’t get me wrong… what the Bike Union is doing is GREAT, but it can’t stop there:

To paraphrase Kanye West, Rob Ford does not care about cyclists.  They did not vote for him, and he knows they won’t vote for him in the future.

Therefore, cyclists can email and phone his office (and the offices of all the City Councillors who are in the Ford voting bloc on Council) all they want, but it will be dismissed, because neither Ford nor the right-wing of City Council has any vested interest in the needs of cyclists.

Getting cyclists who use the Jarvis bikelanes to contact the Mayor is akin to (if you’ll forgive me for a rather crude analogy) hitting on a good looking guy/gal while they’re having sex with someone else.

It’s all fine and good to mobilize and galvanize the cycling community, but until Rob Ford isn’t mayor anymore, or at least until his stranglehold on Council breaks, it is the Totally Wrong Way to save bikelanes or get new ones installed.

The ONLY way to save or get new bikelanes in the current political climate is to have DRIVERS contact Rob Ford and their councillors (especially the non-downtown councillors).

Go to the shopping malls surrounded by parking lots in Etobicoke, North York and Scarborough and  hand out information pamphlets about how bikelanes actually help *ease* traffic congestion (and how they can contact Rob Ford).

Talk to the DRIVERS stuck in traffic downtown about how getting people on bikes means getting people out of cars and therefore their commute may get a little easier.

Get DRIVERS to phone Rob Ford (Rob loves the phone) and tell him:

  • They’re a driver and a taxpayer and…
  • They like bikelanes because it gets cyclists to the side of the road and not in front of their cars, slowing them down, or:
  • They’re son/daughter wants to ride their bike to school and they should be safe on the roads, or:
  • Getting people out of their cars and on bikes will mean less cars on the roads, which means better car traffic flow.


  • I still think it’s important for cyclists to call Rob Ford because he always refers to the number of calls he’s received when he makes important decisions. Sure, he could completely lie and say that he’s received more calls against the bike lanes than for the bike lanes, but having cyclists *not* call Rob Ford won’t help in this regard.

    By the same token, a lot of us everyday cyclists are occasional drivers (I am anyway). So I could just call Rob Ford and tell him I love bike lanes because it decreases conflict between cyclists and motorists.

    Though the Cyclists Union did talk to a lot of motorists who like the Jarvis street bike lane. So I think that is also important to show.

  • martha

    I phoned Rob Ford and (in the message) left the details that I both drive and ride, and have done both on Jarvis before and since bike lanes and that from my personal experience as a driver the bike lanes Work Really Well by keeping everyone in their own area: bikes stay in their lanes, cars stay in theirs. For what it’s worth.

  • Exactly James. That’s why I make the point that what the Union is doing is great, but in and of itself it won’t save the lanes. :(

  • So where can I pick up my leaflets to hand out when I go shopping at Sherway Gardens this weekend? And how about bumper stickers? I’m going to have my sister’s car for a bit and they are eco nuts and wouldn’t mind me slapping one on and driving around!

  • Greg

    I called his office a few days ago (416-397-3673) to stand up and be counted as a supporter of the Jarvis Street bike lanes. I’ve also put it on my Facebook, 14 people have called that I know of from there and I put it on our Tenant Association website (our 450 unit building is on Jarvis Street with two huge bike rooms) so I’m doing my part and most everyone I speak to about it (and I speak a LOT about it!) agree with keeping the lanes.
    I have some faith, I think we just may squeak by and keep the lanes.

  • wendyo

    I usually ride down Sherbourne Street but ride up Jarvis from the St. Lawrence Market in the evening but just take the bike lane from Queen till I turn east on Shuter. Never was a real fan of the Jarvis lanes since they don’t go far enough, or would have preferred closer to Yonge as a north/south street.

    Although I actually use this bike lane very little, I actually prefer this route as it’s faster. I really don’t expect that this lane will be saved but as to timing of it’s removal (I understand they want it removed by the end of the year), it should at least wait until after the Sherbourne construction is complete which I think is slated next year. If cyclists can’t use Sherbourne for awhile, they need an alternate.

  • It wil be a huge shame if the Jarvis Bike-lanes can’t be saved! The whole initiative was in the interest of Toronto’s public. I can understand if some people still prefer to drive to work or to – where-ever, but why take away the liberty of safely travelling to-and-from work on a transit system that benefits everyone! (By being green-transport!) I hope the Toronto public takes action to save their bike lanes – It will surely be a huge tragedy if it can’t be done. Great article! thanks!

  • Mike

    Having the bike lanes removed on Jarvis is just plain stupid! What is needed is a curb-separated lane on the West side of Jarvis that will accommodate two lanes of bike travel. This would eliminate the jog in the car lanes that happens at Queen and allow traffic to move along much better. The problem with the current system is that drivers are always parking for drop-offs and pick-ups in the bike lanes which leads to bikes having to come out into the traffic lanes. There is no separation! Oh well, Rib Ford has decided to remove them now so it doesn’t matter anymore. Humpf!

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