Is there a chance the Jarvis bike lanes could be saved? I certainly hope so, but let's look at the details.
Last year Councillor Minnan-Wong made a last minute motion to remove the Jarvis bike lanes at the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee (PWIC), without consulting/warning Councillor Wong-Tam or the ward citizens who use it. Councillor Minnan-Wong managed to get it pushed through City Council despite the protests of cyclists and Councillor Wong-Tam, and despite the $250,000 price tag to bring back the reversible lane. Such is politics where there is never a Gravy Train when it's your own pet project.
But Toronto Cyclists Union members - and in particular Ward 27 cyclists - are still fighting to get that decision changed. They have a Drivers for Jarvis campaign to showcase that drivers (like Steve and his Jaguar pictured above) in fact find bike lanes useful and want to keep them on Jarvis as well.
It is an uphill battle. Councillor Wong-Tam would have to work hard to convince enough colleagues to pass it at PWIC and/or city council. If she can't get PWIC to reverse its decision (the same PWIC dominated by Minnan-Wong) then I believe there will have to be a 2/3 majority at council to get it on the agenda. A difficult prospect but who knows how this would shake down. Surprising things could happen, such as the recent tweet by Councillor Berardinetti - the same infamous councillor who pushed through the removal of two bike lanes in her ward. Berardinetti, in response to Dave Meslin's complaint of the cost of removing the Jarvis bike lanes, suggested that they save the Jarvis bike lane and save the quarter million dollars for transit.
Will enough councillors have this change of heart?
How dedicated is Councillor Wong-Tam to keeping the bike lanes? She has been quoted in the media as wanting to keep the Jarvis bike lanes, saying that "removing the bike lanes is a step back and throws into disarray a plan to beautify Jarvis Street.". In person she expressed to me that it was important that we fight to save the Jarvis bike lanes. I haven't been able to find any press release or news item from her office suggesting that saving the Jarvis bike lanes was a key priority or how we could go about saving them. She is, however, holding a public meeting on the topic of "Jarvis Street Cultural Corridor". This might be where she will make a principled stand for bike lanes on that busy, fast corridor, though none of the speakers seem to be experts in cycling, which includes Heritage Toronto, Cultural Affairs, ERA Architects, and Heritage Preservation Services. So maybe the meeting is more about the buildings than about the streetscape? It's unclear. The Ward 27 Bike Union group has posted an event asking for cyclists to come to call for keeping the bike lanes.
The last time I heard the term "cultural corridor" was in regards to John Street. And in that case calling it a cultural corridor/pedestrian priority area was a justification for not incorporating bike lanes. So in regards to Jarvis we should be careful when it comes to vague terms like cultural corridor and what it means for safe, efficient transportation for cyclists.
It's unclear at this time what specifically Councillor Wong-Tam is doing to save the Jarvis bike lanes. Perhaps there's stuff going on behind the scenes that I'm missing. If there is feel free to let us know in the comments.
There are still councillors to convince. The unofficial leader of the pro-LRT cohort, Councillor Karen Stintz, was herself against the bike lanes, claiming she heard from a mother who's children were going hungry for minutes(!) because she was late for dinner. (Think of the children! Meanwhile the mothers who choose to bike on Jarvis with their kids have only themselves to blame.)
Here's where I think councillors will most likely stand, based on their support for bike lanes on principle or based on their alliances. A simple majority to overturn the removal of the Jarvis bike lanes is possible, though not ensured, and a 2/3 majority is unlikely.
NO Camp: 19
- Rob Ford - Mayor of Toronto
- Mike Del Grande - Ward 39 Scarborough-Agincourt
- Doug Ford - Ward 2 Etobicoke North
- Mark Grimes - Ward 6 Etobicoke-Lakeshore
- Doug Holyday - Ward 3 Etobicoke Centre
- Norman Kelly - Ward 40 Scarborough-Agincourt
- Denzil Minnan-Wong - Ward 34 Don Valley East
- Frances Nunziata - Ward 11 York South-Weston
- Paul Ainslie - Ward 43 Scarborough East
- Peter Milczyn - Ward 5 Etobicoke-Lakeshore
- Vincent Crisanti - Ward 1 Etobicoke North
- Giorgio Mammoliti - Ward 7 York West
- Cesar Palacio - Ward 17 Davenport
- David Shiner - Ward 24 Willowdale
- Michael Thompson - Ward 37 Scarborough Centre
- Gary Crawford - Ward 36 Scarborough Southwest
- Frank Di Giorgio - Ward 12 York South-Weston
- Ron Moeser - Ward 44 Scarborough East
- James Pasternak - Ward 10 York Centre
- Michelle Berardinetti - Ward 35 Scarborough Southwest
- Jaye Robinson - Ward 25 Don Valley West
- Gloria Lindsay Luby - Ward 4 Etobicoke Centre
- Chin Lee - Ward 41 Scarborough-Rouge River
- John Parker - Ward 26 Don Valley West
- Karen Stintz - Ward 16 Eglinton-Lawrence
Likely to vote Yes based on alliance or principle: 20
- Josh Colle - Ward 15 Eglinton-Lawrence
- Josh Matlow - Ward 22 St. Paul's
- Mary-Margaret McMahon - Ward 32 Beaches-East York
- Ana Bailão - Ward 18 Davenport
- Raymond Cho - Ward 42 Scarborough-Rouge River
- Anthony Perruzza - Ward 8 York-West
- Glenn De Baeremaeker - Ward 38 Scarborough Centre
- Shelley Carroll - Ward 33 Don Valley East
- Sarah Doucette - Ward 13 Parkdale-High Park
- Paula Fletcher - Ward 30 Toronto-Danforth
- Maria Augimeri - Ward 9 York Centre
- John Filion - Ward 23 Willowdale
- Mike Layton - Ward 19 Trinity-Spadina
- Kristyn Wong-Tam - Ward 27 Toronto Centre-Rosedale
- Mary Fragedakis - Ward 29 Toronto-Danforth
- Adam Vaughan - Ward 20 Trinity-Spadina
- Janet Davis - Ward 31 Beaches-East York
- Joe Mihevc - Ward 21 St. Paul's
- Pam McConnell - Ward 28 Toronto Centre-Rosedale
- Gord Perks - Ward 14 Parkdale-High Park
If we are going to have any chance of saving the Jarvis bike lanes I think it would be necessary for Councillor Wong-Tam to make an official statement, start holding public strategy meetings with the help of advocates on how to save the bike lanes and start working to sway enough councillors to pass a reversal. She might be doing some of this, it's just not public information.