Jarvis bike lanes to be removed: Council motions fail

The Jarvis bike lanes are going to be removed in a few weeks.

The council motions presented by Councillors Wong-Tam, Matlow and Cho failed to stop or delay the Jarvis bike lane removals. In a few weeks they will be removed, even before the Sherbourne separated bike lane is completed (which was sort of how it was originally spun). As a sop to the left, Councillor Minnan-Wong passed a motion that the money should come out of the general transportation budget and not the cycling budget.

This is a terrible precedent.

“Every time someone gets hit to the concrete from a door, or breaks a leg or an arm as they get cut off, you’ll be the ones to blame,” Councillor Mike Layton (Ward 19, Trinity-Spadina) told colleagues during heated debate. “Every time someone dies as a result of a bike accident on Jarvis, you’ll need to explain to those families why it was so necessary for us to remove these lanes.”

I am left wondering what happened to the centrist councillors who could have safely voted to keep the lanes. Where were their heads? Councillor Colle and Berardinetti had both previously stated the lanes removal was a waste of money and had insinuated they would vote to keep them.

Councillor Bailao, of all people, voted against the motion to keep them. This from a councillor which has one of the highest bike mode shares in the city; a ward which has hundreds of Cycle Toronto members. Bailao certainly figured that she would be safe from a backlash from people who want safer cycling. I hope she feels some heat over this. If we are having centrist councillors vote to remove bike lanes then we should start with persuading them before moving to the right of the spectrum.

Email her office. Call her office. 416-392-7012

UPDATE: Peter Low pointed out to me that Ana Bailao originally clarified her position on the Jarvis bike lanes to the Ward 18 group. She specifically said that "The decision to remove the Jarvis Street bike lanes was premature and a significant step backwards for safe cycling in the City of Toronto. I opposed the removal of these bike lanes and supported the motion and amendments of the local Councillor to save these lanes."

How odd then, when the vote was just about saving those lanes, she now clearly thinks they should be removed.

Again, she needs to wear this albatross and it's up to her residents to take her to task.


By removing the bicycle lanes on Jarvis, the cars will no longer have lanes for their own use. Now they will be forced to share with bicycles, e-bikes, and other slower moving vehicles. Since there are hazards, such as sewer grates, litter, potholes, weeds, and other debris, they will be forced more into the center of the lane. The cars will be forced to use only one lane for themselves.

I wrote Bailao:

Hi Councillor Bailao,

Do you remember saying this to the Ward 18 Cycle Toronto group last year?

"The decision to remove the Jarvis Street bike lanes was premature and a significant step backwards for safe cycling in the City of Toronto. I opposed the removal of these bike lanes and supported the motion and amendments of the local Councillor to save these lanes."

So what happened with your principles from last year? Did you change your mind on the need for safe and accessible cycling, regardless of age, ability and location?

Your vote to remove the Jarvis bike lanes is disappointing. In fact, your vote was a "significant step backwards for safe cycling in the City of Toronto".

As far as I can tell now, you are willing to sacrifice the safety of your residents for the convenience of a few motorists.

I would ask what are your positions on cycling infrastructure in your ward, the Lansdowne bike lanes and the Dupont bike lanes, but I don't know if we can trust your responses anymore.

Your actions on stalling the Lansdowne bike lanes, going along with the Dupont EA which will bring up the spectre of removing the Dupont bike lanes, and your vote to remove the Jarvis bike lanes suggest that you don't feel that cycling safety is all that important.

I hope that your residents find out your currently hypocritical position on safe cycling. Perhaps in the future you could keep in mind that you represent a ward with more than 15% of the people commute by bike. It is also a ward with hundreds of Cycle Toronto members.

But even if it was just 1%, it is cynical to sacrifice the safety of the few for the convenience of the powerful.

-- Herb

As a motorist and a cyclist who commutes Jarvis every day by bike (for 2 years) and by car (for half a year), I think this was a terrible decision. I need the lanes as a cyclist just as much as I need them as a responsible motorist, for everyone's safety. I will email Bailao.

I don't understand the intense desire to bike down Jarvis, it's one of the most brutal cycling streets in the city even with a bike lane. We really need to be adding separated bike lanes, on places like queen or dundas, maybe university.


People who live on Jarvis probably do not want to be trapped in their homes. That is one group who wants to cycle on Jarvis.

Students at the many schools on Jarvis also need to get to school. They too need to cycle on Jarvis.

People who work at the many businesses on Jarvis will need to get to work. They too need to cycle on Jarvis.

People who are customers of Jarvis businesses also need to cycle on Jarvis.

Looks like a lot of people need to cycle on Jarvis.

Kevin Love

A weak Mayor, a visionless Council, and abhorrently selfish Public, bring TO to 1970's era

The drivers and the councillors who think it was the right decision, are too brainwashed by the auto and oil industry to know any better for themselves and the city.
This vote was typical of Council vision, sterile and backward...

Bailao's my councillor and I just sent my letter of protest to her office. Effing pathetic. I used the Jarvis lanes when I lived in that ward and they are vital to the utility of that street as anything other than a mini-freeway for cars.

I've only biked down Jarvis a couple of times, but for me the importance of keeping the lanes is the positive effects they've had on the street. To quote the Star: "Overall collision rates have dropped by 23 per cent, including an 89-per-cent drop in pedestrian collisions." Don't keep the bike lanes for the cyclists, keep them for the drivers and pedestrians! (Except, you know, don't keep them at all, apparently, because for some reason saving 2-5 minutes on people's commutes is worth injuring and killing other people.)

Ana Bailão sent out a form letter "explaining" why she voted contrary to what she previously said.

She fails to acknowledge that reinstalling the fifth car lane was also not part of the EA and was completely a failure of consultation. Though Jarvis was often in the news there was never any discussion with the community.

Jarvis is just as connected as Sherbourne, crossing most of the same bike lanes. It is a lie to say it is isolated.

Thank you for contacting me and for your passion and dedication to this issue. I stand firmly in favour of the need to expand our cycling network and I strongly believe that, as the City of Toronto, we also have an obligation to provide safe infrastructure; infrastructure which minimizes the risk to our residents as much as possible.
I strongly believe we can and must do more for Toronto cyclists and, by accelerating the Toronto Bike plan that Council approved in 2010, we can place Toronto among the top cycling cities in Canada for curb-separated bike lanes by 2015. To join the other great cycling cities of Amsterdam, San Francisco, Portland and Montreal, we must be progressive and forward thinking in how we plan our cities – making plans not for today but for tomorrow.
With cycling, progressive policy is in separated bike lanes for busy streets. No other system offers greater safety to on-road cyclists than a curb-separated lane. This new stage of City policy begins with the curb-separated bike lanes on Sherbourne Street, which will be the start of many new cycling routes that put cyclists' safety first in a way never seen before in our city.
Since taking office in 2010, Jarvis Street has remained a lightening rod of division among Councillors. The Jarvis bike lanes were never part of the Toronto bike plan, were implemented without consultation, and were installed outside the recommendations of the Environmental Assessment undertaken to improve the public realm on Jarvis.
It has been over a year that the issue of the Jarvis Street bike lane has been continually revisited and spending Council days disagreeing does nothing to forward our goal of better cycling infrastructure for the people of Toronto. This is not progress. Instead, I propose the need to move forward, to move quickly and continue with the implementation of the Toronto Bike Plan so that we may provide the safest and most accessible Toronto cycling experience possible. This is how we will catch up to other great cycling cities.
Originally, money from the Cycling budget – money specifically earmarked for the expansion of cycling infrastructure in our city – was to be used to remove the Jarvis bike lane. I found this to be absolutely unacceptable. For this reason, I insisted on the inclusion of a motion that ensures this decision will not use Cycling & Infrastructure money and, therefore, no reduction to the amount of new lanes that will be built in our city.
I am completely committed to a network of bike lanes across our city, a network that connects all areas of Toronto together. This is where we need to go as a city, not on stand-alone routes that connect only A to B. The Sherbourne Street bike lane, which extends from Front Street to North of the Danforth, will include 7 connections to other paths, each a gateway to other parts of the City. Sherbourne is a step towards a larger cycling plan for the City by connecting into other routes and allowing cyclists a longer, safer journey than was ever previously available.
It is never a comfortable position to take out infrastructure, and it is not a decision I make lightly. Residents can always count on my careful consideration of the issues and my commitment to fight the battles that move us forward, and to save time and resources for the many projects needed to grow our City. Nor is this a decision I would make without such a strong alternative. Sherbourne Street is nearly twice as long, and - because it is part of the Toronto Cycling Plan - has more than twice the cycling connections of Jarvis. Most importantly, it is significantly safer with lower traffic volume and a curb completely separating cyclists from other vehicles. The Bike Plan is a plan that puts cycling safety first, and I will continue to advocate for the construction of new, safe and appropriate cycling infrastructure throughout Toronto.
As with all matters of safety, this is an issue that people feel a strong personal connection to. I appreciate your passionate response and will continue to advocate for improved cycling infrastructure and decisions that promote safety and accessibility. Thank you again for contacting my office and please do not hesitate to do so again.
Ana Bailão

City Councillor
Ward 18, Davenport 

The biking community needs to keep the pressure on the centrist councillors for the next couple of years.

A lot of them will fall in with the mayor no matter their political stripes - Mammoliti arguing passionately for the JBL during the Miller era for example.

The fact that there were no consultations to remove the lanes, but extensive ones to install them will be significant when a future council will vote to bring them back, it's just a matter of making sure that the next non-Ford mayor supports bringing them back at the earliest opportunity. In place less than a year at election time, they were still political in nature, even if Rob said he didn't support paying for them to be removed. Had they been in place longer, there wouldn't have been as much rage.

We sent this to Bailao today:

Councillor Bailao,

I read your Web post “Moving toward a comprehensive bike network in Toronto” and still don’t understand why you voted to remove the bicycle lanes on Jarvis.

Is it your position that Toronto should only have bicycle lanes that are separated? If so, for areas where a separated lane is impractical, is it your position that no bicycle lane of any sort should be installed – and, if one is present, that it should it be removed?

Is it that you only support bicycle lanes sanctioned in the Toronto Bike Plan? If so, what is your justification in voting for the removal of the Birchmount and Pharmacy bike lanes, which were in the plan (PW5.1 Motions 4a & 4c)?

You said, “It is never a comfortable position to take out infrastructure … Nor is this a decision I would make without such a strong alternative... Sherbourne Street”. Is it your position that parallel infrastructure is redundant and should be removed? If so, will you support the removal of the driving lanes on Jarvis and its conversion to a pedestrian-only mall, given the existence of the Don Valley Parkway?

When you voted to remove the Jarvis lanes, were you aware of the following:

• There will always be considerable cycle traffic along Jarvis that will not be served by Sherbourne St, as Jarvis runs through a mixed-use neighbourhood that contains a number of destinations including four educational institutions.

• Installing the 5th reversible lane on Jarvis requires all lanes to be reduced to a substandard width, which reduces the safety for all users of Jarvis St.

• The EA and public consultations for Jarvis recommended removal of the reversible lane and increasing the width of the right hand lane to accommodate cyclists – not unlike the configuration we have now. Reinstalling the 5th lane, on the other hand, profoundly violates the recommendations of the EA.

• In your newsletter, you mention that Sherbourne is a superior route because it includes connections to seven other cycling paths. You fail to note that four of these paths do not currently exist (and may never, at the rate we are going) – while Jarvis also connects to the three paths that do exist.

• A contra flow bike lane is being installed on Maitland Place west of Homewood Avenue (Ref 1). By voting to remove the Jarvis lane you have also marooned this additional section of cycling infrastructure, as Maitland Place intersects Jarvis but not Sherbourne.

You said, “Residents can always count on my careful consideration of the issues and my commitment to fight the battles that move us forward, and to save time and resources for the many projects needed to grow our City.” Can you explain to me how the needless expenditure of nearly a third of a million dollars to reinstate a substandard-width 5th lane that was explicitly contra-indicated in the EA is in any way going to save time and resources?

Councillor Bailao, like many cyclists in Toronto I felt dismayed and betrayed by your Jarvis St votes. And, if you’ll forgive me, your rationalization is a joke.

Cliff Mewdell

1 http://www.toronto.ca/cycling/cyclometer/newsletter/index.htm

Was there an EA done to install the 5 lanes on Jarvis Street? Just wondering about the legal aspects.

Debra and Cliff,

I have written to Councilor Bailao expressing my interest in learning the response to your letter. Thank you for composing it, and please keep us up to date.

Thank GOD people came to their senses. There is absolutely no reason to bike down Jarvis. Are people saying that they would rather keep the Javis lanes and give up the dedicated ones are Sherbourne? Because you can't have it both ways.. KWT made that deal - and time it was transparent... no putting a tiny an in Now Magazine and sneaking this move through. Anyone who thinks the Jarvis lanes are needed either lives on Jarvis (and this is really a discussion on property values) or has never travelled on Jarvis to see that the lanes DON"T GET USED. That's right folks... even your beloved KWT said that the best way to keep Jarvis bike lanes was to use them and she complained that they are way under utilized. I have no doubt that one day, bike lanes will come again - and they should - but only when the dedicated lanes on Sherbourne are at capacity. I love how everyone says that the "community" wants these lanes... the truth is that the community of drivers uses the road 100 times more than the local residents... if they want to engage the community, then they really should speak to all the north Toronto residence who actually use this road. To those that live on Jarvis... just be thankful the crack hoes are gone.

Does anyone know if it's legally possible for the City to pass a bylaw prohibiting bicycles from Jarvis? This would probably be under Ontario's regulations for municipal powers, rather than the Highway Traffic Act.

HTA 630 states:

Bicycles are prohibited on expressway / freeway highways such as the 400 series, the QEW, Ottawa Queensway and on roads where "No Bicycle" signs are posted.

Note that this doesn't limit the presence of "Ni Bicycle" signs to freeways.

Here's another bit from MTO:

•Any municipal by-law prohibiting bicycles from highways under their jurisdiction also apply to e-bikes.

Would Jarvis count as a "highway" under Toronto's jurisdiction?

I can just see Minnan-Wong have some lackey introduce this kind of motion. After all, we have separated Sherbourne lanes. We should just get out of the way of cars on Jarvis.

The following is a notice from the City of Toronto Transportation Services.

Please do not reply to this email. This email account is not monitored.

Jarvis Street Bike Lane Removal

and Reinstatement of Centre Reversible Lane

This fall, from October to December, Transportation Services will be making changes to Jarvis Street, between Queen Street East and Isabella Street, to remove the bicycle lanes and reinstate a centre reversible traffic lane to the roadway.

The reinstatement of the reversible lane to Jarvis Street will include the following changes:

· The roadway will be marked with 5 traffic lanes. The centre reversible lane will operate in either a northbound direction or a southbound direction at different times of the day.

· Reversible lane signals and signs will be suspended over the street.

· Pay and display on-street parking will be reintroduced on the west side of Jarvis Street, and parking will be permitted during non-rush hour periods.


As with all construction projects there will be noise and temporary inconveniences. In order to complete the work effectively and in a safe manner, some pedestrian and traffic restrictions will be necessary.

Partial road closures and lane reductions will be required to undertake the work. Efforts will be made to minimize traffic disruptions during the morning and afternoon rush-hours,

Your co-operation and patience during the construction period is crucial and appreciated.


From 2007 - 2009 the City of Toronto conducted a Municipal Class Environmental Assessment Study (Class EA) to develop streetscape improvement plans and traffic lane modifications along the Jarvis Street corridor from Bloor Street East to Queen Street East. The purpose of this study was to improve Jarvis Street's public realm in a manner that compliments the area's existing built form and redevelopment, while recognizing the street as a cultural corridor with an emphasis on its historical significance.

Study Information is archived online at www.toronto.ca/involved/projects/jarvis

The Environmental Assessment Study recommended narrowing Jarvis Street by removing the centre reversible lane and widening the boulevards to improve the pedestrian realm. In May, 2009 City Council approved the Jarvis Street EA Study with an amendment to provide bicycle lanes rather than wider sidewalks and an improved streetscape design. The bicycle lanes were installed on Jarvis Street in June, 2010.

In July, 2011 Toronto City Council rescinded the approval for the Jarvis Street bicycle lanes in order to revert the street to the "pre-existing condition" prior to the installation of bicycle lanes.

For More Information:

Visit www.toronto.ca/311 or call 311 (TTY 416-338-0889)

Councillor Ward 27

Kristyn Wong-Tam



Councillors (Politicians) are allowed to: lie, break promises, change their mind, change their alliances, change their position (stated or not), do the wrong thing (morally, ethically, fiscally) and they don't care what happens as long as they save their own ass in the process.

If you want to affect change then organize a group of people in your community (Ward) that support cycling in order to leverage political influence on your Councillor, and change public policy.

Then let your Councillor know that they can't blow you off - because several did when they voted on Jarvis, namely: Bailao, Parker, Berardinetti, Stintz, Colle & Robinson.

Toronto has only a few such groups, and we need a lot more if it's going to make a difference.

@ Ed
Bicycles are not permitted on 400 series highways (401, 407, 404, ect.), Jarvis doesn't qualify.

Seymore, I know that bicycles aren't permitted on freeways. That wasn't what I was asking.

My question is to what extent it's legally possible for the City of Toronto to put up "No Bicycles" signs on any old road (e.g. Jarvis) by passing a bylaw. As I quoted from HTA:

Bicycles are prohibited on expressway / freeway highways such as the 400 series, the QEW, Ottawa Queensway and on roads where "No Bicycle" signs are posted.

Note the italic section; what "roads" could these be? Where can "No Bicycle" signs be posted? Are there any limitations to where they can be posted? I haven't found anything specific.


The short answer is no.

Since removing Jarvis is essentially Ford's political vendetta against Miller, attempting to restrict its use would be pointless I assume.

You're not actually quoting the HTA, but the summary of the HTA on the MTO site. The controlled-access roadways are spelled out in regulation 630. That regulation lists the specific roads, and parts thereof, where bicycles are prohibited.

So no, the city could not unilaterally declare Jarvis a bike-free road. They'd have to ask the province to change the regulation.

Uh, looking at the e-law site, I see:

“highway” includes a common and public highway, street, avenue, parkway, driveway, square, place, bridge, viaduct or trestle, any part of which is intended for or used by the general public for the passage of vehicles and includes the area between the lateral property lines thereof; (“voie publique”)

which sounds like Jarvis is a "highway'; and

Prohibiting motor assisted bicycles, etc., on municipal highways

(2) The council of a municipality may by by-law prohibit pedestrians or the use of motor assisted bicycles, bicycles, wheelchairs or animals on any highway or portion of a highway under its jurisdiction. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 185 (2).

Unless there are some further regulations, it seems like the City could ban bicycles from any onld municipal highway it cared to. The only ones it wouldn't have a say over would be provincial highways, which these days are indeed 400, 401, etc.

While council could, in theory, pass a by law in an attempt to restrict bicycles from Jarvis, there are still other overriding laws beyond council authority and even the HTA, like the Magna Carta and our own constitution. Our courts do not allow laws that unjustifiably restrict our rights, like the right of movement; such restrictions require at least one really good reason (the courts use the word "reasonable" as a test), or, that the restrictions is merely temporary and is due to an event or other temporary circumstance (ie construction).

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