Public Works committee votes to take out Jarvis bike lanes: total -8 km bike lanes this year

The Public Works and Infrastructure Committee voted to take out Jarvis bike lanes in a surprise motion today, on top of the motion to take out lanes on Pharmacy and Birchmount. I don't think the councillors realize the blowback of Jarvis compared to Pharmacy/Birchmount (where removal is quite sad, but not much organized local opposition). Jarvis may yet prove to be a lightening rod around which cyclists will gather (to be energized?).

I've collected some choice tweets below. And please read Mez's great piece on why Jarvis is important and why we should defend it:

The Mayor had been musing lately about removing them, mentioning some phantom complainers to his phone line (which is 416-397-FORD by the way). Rob Ford, May 20, 2011:

“I’ve never supported the bike lanes on Jarvis. Eventually would I like to see them go, absolutely, but is it a priority now? I haven’t got any documentation or anything like that so no, it’s not something that’s going to happen immediately,” Mr. Ford told reporters on Thursday. “Whoever started this rumour, it’s just a rumour for now.”

It's not like it was ever justified. Motor vehicle travel times have nudged up approximately 2 minutes between Charles and Queen Street. Not knowing the margin of error, I'm not sure if that 2 minutes is even significant. At any rate the actual motor vehicle traffic volume remains unchanged: averaging 13,000 motor vehicles in both directions. That means just as many cars could travel the same street in the same time period as before. Removing one car lane has had no impact whatsoever on overall motor vehicle traffic volumes. But just to be on the safe side, staff were going to look at measures to "mitigate travel times impacts" such as a northbound left turn phase at Gerrard and Jarvis. If this passes council they won't have to bother.

Jarvis bike counts at Dundas

The City's cycling department had been conducting bike counts on Jarvis, as well as measuring the impact of car traffic of the bike lanes before and after their installation. They've started doing before and after counts on all bike lane installations - hopefully this will sway some councillors to use reason over ideology. With the automatic counters on Jarvis Street and Dundas St, bike traffic has jumped three fold from 290 to 890 cyclists!

There are eight Bixi stations all within one block of Jarvis, installed since May. It's possible that bike traffic will increase even more as more and more tourists and commuters take to Bixi. In May Bixi saw 40,000 trips and June is shaping up to be many more trips. Looking over time on this map of Bixi stations you can see just how much stations around Jarvis, and in general, are being used.

If the Mayor wants to get rid of Jarvis bike lanes, he's going to have a fight on his hands. But we've got the bike counts and I believe City Hall can be filled with even more cyclists than the original Jarvis bike lane decision which packed the public seating. Mark your calendars for July 12/13!

Comments

What fight do you think he'll have, exactly?

Here's the way I see it happening: He'll present the motion, the councillors will vote the way they normally do, it'll pass, cyclists will complain, he'll be voted in next time cause the people who voted for him love it when the "downtown elite" get shafted.

Cynical? Me? Not until recently. :P

As cities around the world work to incorporate cycling into urban areas Toronto is acting to reduce what little it has. If nothing else, isn't that embarrassing?

Conservatives hate, and use hate: that's their nature. They can always find enough sheep to follow them: that's sheep's nature. 'Progressives' have a more nuanced argument, and are too smug about it: that's their nature. Repeat it until in Toronto, and the rest of the world, until we've made both uninhabitable.

Forgive my ignorance.. but what exactly is the reason behind removing the Jarvis bike lanes?

Is it really just about reducing wait times?

I simply can't understand how can city as Toronto trying to go against its own citizens. All over the world, not only in TO, is growing community of cyclist and every reasonable city council has to realize need of support for this trend. But this bike lanes plans seem to be opposite - cancelling lanes on Pharmacy and Birchmount Avenue, now Javis St... What's the point of having new lanes when we're cancelling old ones? I'm really interested how far will this go.

If they remove the bike lanes, I will be using the whole traffic lane with my bike. You might as well do the same.

@W. K. Lis: "If they remove the bike lanes, I will be using the whole traffic lane with my bike. You might as well do the same."

I think this is a perfectly justified response. But please don't make it seem like spite. Someone (a cycling supporter) described it on twitter as "civil disobedience," which is completely incorrect. It's NOT civil disobedience: it's a perfectly legal and sensible way of protecting one's safety.

I recommend that the Bike Union start an education campaign to remind ALL road users that cyclists have every right to take up the whole lane.

See also: http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/article/690848

Also, as much as I agree with Dave Meslin's call for people to join the Bike Union and flood City Council with activists, over the long-term the focus can't be on City Hall. Cyclists need to reach out more to residents' associations, tenant groups, BIAs and other broad-based community groups. Currently, it's too easy for someone like Michele Berardinetti to say her "community" does not want bike lanes just because a few grumps wrote her an email.

As it is, cycling activists are too often viewed as a special interest group, separate from the larger community. This must change if cycling is going to survive the next few years.

What was Grimes' input and vote? The minutes aren't up, and apparently they don't record who voted which way anyway.

He's my local councillor; I need to give him a boot. (Like that will help, but anyway.)

John, I've been keeping the star article in my bookmark tab forever. Occasionally a show it to an outraged friend or family member that complains.

Even without bikes 3 lanes on Jarvis won't help taffic, it just means more cars are fighting to get into the bottleneck at queen street.
Since I also drive, I actually preferred a consistent 2 lane system with less aggressiveness and slightly faster moving speeds.

If the vote goes in favour of removing the lanes, we need to find out when the removal is scheduled and hold an intervention, a lane occupation.

Being anti-bike is bad for tourism.

Last summer, my wife and I had a fantastic vacation in Montreal (from suburban New York, USA). One of the big attractions were the ubiquitous Bixi Bikes and all the safe and protected bike lanes. What a great way to discover a city, especially for us who were not bicycle riders before!

The bike lanes and paths enabled us to feel much more comfortable biking around Montreal. This comfort, in turn, allowed us to reach far more neighborhoods and neat places (like Atwater Market) that we never would have visited by car. And all that exercise improved our moods and appetites, so WE SPENT A LOT MORE MONEY SHOPPING AND DINING IN MONTREAL!

Toronto would have been next, but with this new anti-biking orientation, I don't feel it will be as welcoming a place to visit. We'll search for a city that is more receptive to vacations for active lifestyles. Maybe we'll go back to Montreal, or check out Paris, Amsterdam, or Copenhagen.

The truth is that the centre lane of Jarvis was removed to enhance the public realm, to improve the quality of life in that neighbourhood, not to accommodate bike lanes.

To have them removed after bike traffic has grown so much is bad transportation policy, bad fiscal policy, and a detriment to the neighbourhood.

Knowing the facts, if they decide to craft political folly instead of acting responsibly (and that is exactly what this is), then the councillors who support this motion are not fit to lead, and they need to be held accountable.

To some larger extent, this PWIC meeting was a disaster, but when one points fingers, one usually has three fingers pointing back - and I think that at least one of these goes to the whole choice for Jarvis for bike lanes as a way of distinguishing the CU.

Even though Jarvis was nasty dangerous to bike one prior to lanes, and the Sherbourne lanes were/are real crappy to ride on, fundamentally, Jarvis is beside a bike lane on Sherbourne St., and the accident/crash data tend to show problems on the east-west streets, and less on the N/S.

So Kyle Rae wanted to get some "green" cred with cyclists ahead of a possible election, or as a possible legacy as he was part of the problem with the Bloor/Yorkvile travesty, and bike lanes are not only way cheaper than a reconstruction for wider sidewalks, but there's a "bounce".

But these bike lanes obviously rankle more than a few votorists in Northern Toronto; others in the media and elsewhere start banging the drums about it; and gee, does it help get Ford in?

Then the CU and others start on the next campaign of separated bike lanes - good in theory, but again, we're not Europe, we're Caronto, and about half of it is baked ie. worthwhile. This includes Sherbourne and Richmond/Adelaide, 10 years after first being in the Bike Plan to be studied for an innovative treatment like a separated lane.

So - not really surprising that there was a nasty attack on these Jarvis bike lanes - and not a real surprise that there was going to be other Carap that gets approved, including the taking away of the Bloor/Danforth EA which the CU was kind enough to urge retaining, and many of the emails/deputants did speak of keeping this going - thanks!

A way forward might be to simply add a phrase to the Parker motion - "that the Jarvis lanes not be removed until after the Sherbourne St. bike lanes are fully reconstructed" - or some thing like that ties having the Sherbourne facility well done ahead of any Jarvis removals.

This will make the momentum of Finally!! getting smooth pavement on Jarvis greater as there will be extra incentive to find the money to do this reworking, and it also gives many of us an option when Sherbourne is ripped up, as usually there's zilch when a road project occurs. And there's a whole separate issue of if one takes away the lanes, then does one restore the old Jarvis with the alternating lane, or go back to the EA process for a rebuild, and does the Ford government actually want to spend a few millions on actually beautifying the street, as Mr. Parker alleges was the true sentiment behind his motion..

We have needed east-west things and connections and road repairs far more than Jarvis bike lanes in my view, though now that they're here, maybe the above tweaking will let us have a continued use of them until Sherbourne is rideable.

And for other things: the cost of the removal of the Scarborough lanes would repaint the 8kms of Bloor between High Park and Sherbourne for bike lanes - and of course there's more detail that could be offered about some other things too.

And in case Herb decides to censor my remarks, I'll just copy this ahead of posting.

Jarvis connects to Mount Pleasant - Sherborne does not. It's about transportation, so the connected routes should be the ones with the bike lanes.

@ Hamish

This is more about a baseless removal of cycling facilities, and less about inticate details.

There's a forest behind them trees dude.

Not mentioned in reports about yesterday's crappy bike day at the PWIC:

  • DMW moved that the City move ahead with separated bike lanes on John Street. His motion failed after John Parker joined Perks and Layton to oppose, in a very unusual tie vote (tie=motion fails).
  • Separated bike lanes for Harbord/Hoskin are back on the table, even though the report recommended against them
  • the City will report back in October about a number of other bike lane proposals south of Queen: Peter, Portland, Bremner, Wellington, and others from Adam Vaughan's Ward 20 plan and the existing bike plan. Don't know whether this actually means anything.

Do you realize that the Jarvis redundant lane has become the biggest BURDEN for cycling in Toronto? It has made bike lanes into a political hot potato.

We need many MORE families and their kids speaking up at City Hall.
We need to remind our councillors that they are building a city for the future generation, not the current generation. We need to remind our Councillors that all our city's streets are for all of us who are residents; not just those who drive cars.

We need many more like Adelaide (see:)
Bike Lanes Be Gone By Matthew Kupfer - Toronto Standard - June 24, 2011

Adelaide for Mayor!! Adelaide FTW!

@lukev

Jarvis was not some needless provocation to the Moore Park people. These are the same type of self-entitled people who fought the St. Clair ROW, who opposed Transit City, who opposed the University lanes, who freaked out over right-turn-on-red restrictions and everything else that even slightly lowers car priority in this city, even if only perceptually.

It amazes me that this city's so-called conservatives, people who like to lecture us about “living within our means” and the need for austerity, will turn into a shrieking mob of socialists demanding free roads, free parking and cheap gas whenever the laws of physics show the impossibility of cramming more single-occupancy vehicles onto our finite roadspace.

Matt Elliott has a useful summary of the facts about Jarvis:

the total number of vehicles (cars + bikes) using the road in both directions during daily peak eight hour periods increased from approximately 13,290 to 14,180 after the installation of the lanes. 100% of this increase comes from bikes.

In other words: a $63,000 one-time investment in infrastructure increased the daily utility of a Toronto roadway by about 7%. That’s an incredible value-to-dollar ratio.

This isn’t some hippie pinko gut-based opinion. This is black-and-white fact. The Jarvis Street bike lanes aren’t preventing people from moving through the city. They’re enabling people to move through the city.

I actually had hopes for Minnan-Wong (and Parker, for that matter). My error was that I assumed their conservatism was real, of the Burkean variety, and not a load of self-indulgent performance art. Motorized Socialism was never going to be appeased by keeping bikes off Jarvis.

back @ anonymous pedaller:

I think I'm well aware of both forest and trees.

My email deputation printed out at 6 pages; and also included both MPPs and City Legal, and some other councillors beyond the PWIC. It isn't hotlinked via the agenda history, but all the motions are - http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis/viewAgendaItemHistory.do?item=2011.PW5.1

I was surprised to be #1 on the dep list too, Ms. Garcia being 20-ish of c. 25, and unfortunately, she didn't use all of her five minute time, and in her remaining minute she could have said a bit about Bloor/Danforth, which was one of the four priority requests of the CU, thanks.

Did the Pedaller take the day to be there, or to make a deputation? One has to actually give a real name and not be anonymouse...

Jarvis wasn't on the agenda, nor in the report. It was wrong to have such a massive report given out a mere week ahead of decision, and without the benefit of being filtered and refined through a Cycling Advisory Cttee (which was curtailed by Miller/Heaps) and cut by Ford, and it must be restored with a Network sub-committee to assist with refining proposals/initiatives.
I've already vexed back up to Minister Wynne and some councillors along with a possible way of deflecting this removal concern.

The forest is quite plainly that there is some merit in the point that Jarvis has Sherbourne right beside it; though it desperately needs paving, and Jarvis was too dangerous to ride on before.

The forest is that the crash/harm data don't really support doing things on Jarvis, but far more on east-west streets, especially west of Bathurst. And then there's a world beyond the core.... and those proposals for dedicated lanes, which have potential in theory maybe, but the staff only sorta said look at half of what was proposed, the most logical one being Richmond and Adelaide, which the Bike Plan said ten years ago should have a separate study, but being on the blindp side, we won't ask why nothing really happened eh?

As for being misguided, I don't think Ms. Garcia's quote in the Pedal Annual 2011 bike show guide is online but on p. 30 there was this (and she might have been following orders...)
"The most obvious change is the new administration. To date, this change has been very positive for cycling in Toronto. For example, one of the councillors on Mayor Ford's executive committee, Denzil Minnan-Wong (who is also chair of the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee), is championing Toronto's first network of physically separated bicycle lanes for the downtown. Minnan-Wong's proposal is one of the most sensible plans for improving Toronto's cycling infrastructure in years. Beyond this exciting development, it's too early in the new administration to note other changes that will affect cycling in Toronto. Overall, we feel confident that the next four years will result in much-needed advances to Toronto's bike network."

So there was no real indication ahead of time, not Mr. Ford's voting record to remove bike lane funding nor his remarks, and no reason to suspect anything since the changes to Transit City happened in a vacuum, and have been unknown, despite that $49M cost in cancellations? And if the CU has the "ear" of Minnan-Wong, why have a Cycling Committee to meet in public?

But at least Councillor Perks was eloquent in congratulating the Fordkers for a masterful job of making cuts look like gains, and maybe instead of tweaking me about details and broad issues, ask the CU about why they built up the M/Wong plan while ignoring road measurements, past practices, election promises, and also other agenda items and their potential damage.

Yes, c'est damage - and the fix for Jarvis is to link any decision to it until after the Sherbourne lane is fully completed, as that will actually encourage that rebuilding to occur, since apparently we're in a funding crisis. And we also need to be a bit reasonable about things at times since we're not Europe/Amsterdam yet, just with that potential.

I will keep urging Bloor/Danforth which does respond to crash data, and even has a good study to back it up from nearly two decades ago, and could help out the subway too, plus that 5800-name petition. May I request others to help pressure their councillors, and the great work of the ward organizing could be fairly helpful, though it's the power balance between the outer core and the inner more bikeable one that needs reviewing.

And that's back up at the province and there are carrupt and weak politricks there too; even the Greens might be failing us there.

End of treetise, though I did think of a new word - self-censored.... but :)

If the bike lane disappears, I'm going to be VERY TEMPTED to take over one vehicular lane with my bicycle when I pass through during rush hour. As I understand it, it is my right to use the full lane if safety is an issue. Let's see how the politicians feel about that.

Raven,

That's part of the plan. I'm trying to organize a day when cyclists do just that on Jarvis prior to the council vote, to show how traffic would be affected by eliminated a useful piece of infrastructure. According to Ontario and Toronto's own information... it's never safe to pass a cyclist in a lane. Cyclists are staying to the right only as a courtesy to drivers.

See more about the idea here:
https://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_111042595657239

Here's an interesting article about how Europe is trying to adapt away fromcars. Quite the opposite of Toronto

**Europe Stifles Drivers in Favor of Mass Transit and Walking - NYTimes.com
**http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/27/science/earth/27traffic.html?_r=1&pagewant
ed=2
Across Europe, Irking Drivers Is Urban Policy
Published: June 26, 2011

ZURICH — While American cities are synchronizing green lights to improve
traffic flow and offering apps to help drivers find parking, many European
cities are doing the opposite: creating environments openly hostile to cars.
The methods vary, but the mission is clear — to make car use expensive and
just plain miserable enough to tilt drivers toward more environmentally
friendly modes of transportation.
Cities including Vienna to Munich and Copenhagen have closed vast swaths of
streets to car traffic. Barcelona and Paris have had car lanes eroded by
popular bike-sharing programs. Drivers in London and Stockholm pay hefty
congestion charges just for entering the heart of the city. And over the
past two years, dozens of German cities have joined a national network of
“environmental zones” where only cars with low carbon dioxide emissions may
enter.
Likeminded cities welcome new shopping malls and apartment buildings but
severely restrict the allowable number of parking spaces. On-street parking
is vanishing. In recent years, even former car capitals like Munich have
evolved into “walkers’ paradises,” said Lee Schipper, a senior research
engineer at Stanford University who specializes in sustainable
transportation.
“In the United States, there has been much more of a tendency to adapt
cities to accommodate driving,” said Peder Jensen, head of the Energy and
Transport Group at the European Environment Agency. “Here there has been
more movement to make cities more livable for people, to get cities
relatively free of cars.”
To that end, the municipal Traffic Planning Department here in Zurich has
been working overtime in recent years to torment drivers. Closely spaced red
lights have been added on roads into town, causing delays and angst for
commuters. Pedestrian underpasses that once allowed traffic to flow freely
across major intersections have been removed. Operators in the city’s ever
expanding tram system can turn traffic lights in their favor as they
approach, forcing cars to halt.
Around Löwenplatz, one of Zurich’s busiest squares, cars are now banned on
many blocks. Where permitted, their speed is limited to a snail’s pace so
that crosswalks and crossing signs can be removed entirely, giving people on
foot the right to cross anywhere they like at any time.
As he stood watching a few cars inch through a mass of bicycles and
pedestrians, the city’s chief traffic planner, Andy Fellmann, smiled.
“Driving is a stop-and-go experience,” he said. “That’s what we like! Our
goal is to reconquer public space for pedestrians, not to make it easy for
drivers.”
While some American cities — notably San Francisco, which has
“pedestrianized” parts of Market Street — have made similar efforts, they
are still the exception in the United States, where it has been difficult to
get people to imagine a life where cars are not entrenched, Dr. Schipper
said.
Europe’s cities generally have stronger incentives to act. Built for the
most part before the advent of cars, their narrow roads are poor at handling
heavy traffic. Public transportation is generally better in Europe than in
the United States, and gas often costs over $8 a gallon, contributing to
driving costs that are two to three times greater per mile than in the
United States, Dr. Schipper said.
What is more, European Union countries probably cannot meet a commitment
under the Kyoto Protocol to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions unless
they curb driving. The United States never ratified that pact.
Globally, emissions from transportation continue a relentless rise, with
half of them coming from personal cars. Yet an important impulse behind
Europe’s traffic reforms will be familiar to mayors in Los Angeles and
Vienna alike: to make cities more inviting, with cleaner air and less
traffic.
Michael Kodransky, global research manager at the Institute for
Transportation and Development Policy in New York, which works with cities
to reduce transport emissions, said that Europe was previously “on the same
trajectory as the United States, with more people wanting to own more cars.”
But in the past decade, there had been “a conscious shift in thinking, and
firm policy,” he said. And it is having an effect.
After two decades of car ownership, Hans Von Matt, 52, who works in the
insurance industry, sold his vehicle and now gets around Zurich by tram or
bicycle, using a car-sharing service for trips out of the city. Carless
households have increased from 40 to 45 percent in the last decade, and car
owners use their vehicles less, city statistics show.
“There were big fights over whether to close this road or not — but now it
is closed, and people got used to it,” he said, alighting from his bicycle
on Limmatquai, a riverside pedestrian zone lined with cafes that used to be
two lanes of gridlock. Each major road closing has to be approved in a
referendum.
Today 91 percent of the delegates to the Swiss Parliament take the tram to
work.
Still, there is grumbling. “There are all these zones where you can only
drive 20 or 30 kilometers per hour [about 12 to 18 miles an hour], which is
rather stressful,” Thomas Rickli, a consultant, said as he parked his Jaguar
in a lot at the edge of town. “It’s useless.”
Urban planners generally agree that a rise in car commuting is not desirable
for cities anywhere.
Mr. Fellmann calculated that a person using a car took up 115 cubic meters
(roughly 4,000 cubic feet) of urban space in Zurich while a pedestrian took
three. “So it’s not really fair to everyone else if you take the car,” he
said.
European cities also realized they could not meet increasingly strict World
Health Organization guidelines for fine-particulate air pollution if cars
continued to reign. Many American cities are likewise in “nonattainment” of
their Clean Air Act requirements, but that fact “is just accepted here,”
said Mr. Kodransky of the New York-based transportation institute.
It often takes extreme measures to get people out of their cars, and
providing good public transportation is a crucial first step. One novel
strategy in Europe is intentionally making it harder and more costly to
park. “Parking is everywhere in the United States, but it’s disappearing
from the urban space in Europe,” said Mr. Kodransky, whose recent report
“Europe’s Parking U-Turn” surveys the shift.
Sihl City, a new Zurich mall, is three times the size of Brooklyn’s Atlantic
Mall but has only half the number of parking spaces, and as a result, 70
percent of visitors get there by public transport, Mr. Kodransky said.
In Copenhagen, Mr. Jensen, at the European Environment Agency, said that his
office building had more than 150 spaces for bicycles and only one for a
car, to accommodate a disabled person.
While many building codes in Europe cap the number of parking spaces in new
buildings to discourage car ownership, American codes conversely tend to
stipulate a minimum number. New apartment complexes built along the light
rail line in Denver devote their bottom eight floors to parking, making it
“too easy” to get in the car rather than take advantage of rail transit, Mr.
Kodransky said.
While Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has generated controversy in New York by
“pedestrianizing” a few areas like Times Square, many European cities have
already closed vast areas to car traffic. Store owners in Zurich had worried
that the closings would mean a drop in business, but that fear has proved
unfounded, Mr. Fellmann said, because pedestrian traffic increased 30 to 40
percent where cars were banned.
With politicians and most citizens still largely behind them, Zurich’s
planners continue their traffic-taming quest, shortening the green-light
periods and lengthening the red with the goal that pedestrians wait no more
than 20 seconds to cross.
“We would never synchronize green lights for cars with our philosophy,” said
Pio Marzolini, a city official. “When I’m in other cities, I feel like I’m
always waiting to cross a street. I can’t get used to the idea that I am
worth less than a car.”

Does anybody know what commute route by car mayor ford and his brother take to go to work everyday does it include Jarvis street?

Rob Ford lives in Etobicoke. In the following video he talks about driving to city hall every day (which he later amends to three times a week) using Queen and Dundas streets.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=xwxiv2aznB0#at=77

Kevin Love