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“Ride for Jarvis” goes Tonight

The Toronto Cyclists Union is organizing a “Ride for Jarvis” tonight and plans to have hundreds of cyclists riding on Jarvis Street to show/protest/unify against City Hall decisions that are removing bikelanes and implying that a Torontonian who drives is more important than a Torontonian who bikes.

This ride will attract 3 types of cyclist:

  • Cyclists who feel there must be a public show of support for bikelanes
  • Cyclists who are militant and want to take over city streets as a symbolic “F— You!” to drivers and City Hall
  • Cyclists who just want streets to be safer and are disappointed that City Hall is trying to make streets more dangerous

The cyclists it will not attract are those who believe that jamming up car traffic and pissing off other Torontonians is the exact opposite of what cycling advocates should be doing.    It will not attract Torontonians who believe that bridges should be built (and not burnt) between cycling and driving and pedestrian groups.  It will not attract cyclists who believe that the Bike Union is an important voice for cyclists, but do not agree with the Union’s methods of “advocating” or the fact that some central people who run the Union are anti-car.

It remains to be seen what kind of media attention this will get, but I am willing to bet that it’s the militant cyclists that the mainstream media will focus on for soundbites and video clips.

Because of this, I doubt this ride will do *anything* other than be a community-building event for the type of cyclists who go to an event like this and an item in a Toronto Cyclists Union Annual Report.

This is essentially because 1) those that hold the balance of power at City Hall do not care what cyclists think, and 2) everyone already knows that cyclists support bikelanes.

However, it should be a fun and interesting event, and I hope that a good percentage of the 1000+ people who have marked themselves as “attending” on the Facebook Event Page actually show up.  Facebook Event RSVPs and notorious for not being accurate.

[top photo from the Toronto Sun]

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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.

 

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How to Save the Jarvis Bikelanes

If you haven’t heard already, on Thursday the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee at City Hall voted to take out the Jarvis Bikelanes that were installed about a year ago.

This is not the final decision on the Jarvis bikelanes though… the matter now goes to City Council on July 12-13, and the Toronto cycling community is mobilizing to convince City Councillors to save the lanes and save the taxpayers money (the cost to remove them is in the $250,000 ballpark).

The lanes were installed last year and took a very car-oriented street (5 lanes, with a reversible middle lane) and turned in into a slightly more humane street with 2 car lanes and 1 bikelane in each direction.  City of Toronto studies have shown that car travel times (and volume) have basically stayed the same while bicycle traffic has tripled (from about 300 to 900 cyclists using the lanes in an 8-hour period). [source - pg. 17 - PDF file]

The other thing which should be remembered is that even if the bikelanes are erased, there is no guarantee that the middle lane will be re-created – the signaling for the lane is expensive to re-create, and as well, Jarvis is due for planned streetscape improvements (before the bikelanes were planned, expanded sidewalks and pedestrian improvements were planned, with a similar reduction from 5 to 4 car lanes.

So… what can you do to help save the Jarvis Bikelanes?

1. Check out the Bike Union’s “Save Jarvis” page, which runs down these options as well

2. Sign the petition to save Jarvis.  The more signatures it has the more City Councillors will pay attention to it.

3. If you don’t have a regular job and your days are free/flexible, attend the City Council meeting on July 12-13.

How to Stay Updated on This Issue:

 

 

 

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