politics

Let's see the stats on improved travel times at Jarvis/Gerrard advanced left turn phase

The Public Works and Infrastructure Committee (PWIC) voted to reinstall the fifth lane of Jarvis and remove the Jarvis bike lanes after the installation of the Sherbourne Street separated bike lanes at its meeting on June 23, 2011. Cyclists, the Toronto Cyclists Union in particular, supported the Sherbourne separated bike lanes but were against creating a trade-off with the Jarvis bike lanes. The number one argument used to push for removing the Jarvis bike lanes was that it slowed down traffic (by about 2 to 5 minutes). In the report Transportation Services staff had noted that travel times could be improved by installing an advanced left turn signal at Jarvis and Gerrard streets. The staff have installed the advanced left and have studied the results. It's time that PWIC released the results so the public knows if it has helped resolve travel time issues.

At PWIC’s June 23. 2011 meeting, PWIC had before it a June 9 , 2011 City staff report, Bikeway Network 2011 Update. City staff advised in the report, referring to Jarvis Street, that:

Travel times increased by approximately two minutes in both directions following the installation of the bike lanes in the a.m. peak hour and by three to five minutes in both directions in the p.m. peak hour.

  • Much of the increased travel time could be attributed to the delays and queues experienced at the Jarvis Street/Gerrard Street East intersection, particularly in the northbound direction during the p.m. peak period.
  • The introduction of an advanced left turn phase in the northbound direction at this intersection, scheduled this summer, will reduce the delays at this intersection and the overall travel times between Queen Street East and Charles Street East.

An advanced left turn phase in the northbound direction of Jarvis Street at the intersection of Jarvis Street and Gerrard Street East was introduced in the summer/fall of 2011. New stats for the intersection of Gerrard and Jarvis have been internally generated by the City and a travel time analysis may be available that would help the public and the Committee in understanding if there has been a change in the delay experienced by motorists on Jarvis Street during rush hour after the change in signal timing.

PWIC should release the new travel time statistics now so that the community can be able to assess the real impact, if any, of the removal of the 5th lane of Jarvis and the installation of the Jarvis Street bike lanes.

Poll down since provided misleading sense of accuracy and website security issues hopefully solved

I Bike TO update: I've resolved some security issues that appeared on Monday. The website should be running smoothly and securely again.

I had published a poll on the proposed Toronto Cyclists Union name change. I decided to take it down since it was not going to provide an accurate sample of the bike union membership. It would do the opposite of just muddying the discussion. Website polls are blunt tools that can only tell us who is most eager to vote and not a representative sample of the population. The resulting numbers may look accurate enough but they won't mean much.

In this case the population is the bike union membership, so to know what they are thinking we would have to conduct a survey of a random sample of the membership. To be precise about 325 people would have to be surveyed. I used this handy sample size calculator based on a membership of 2100, confidence level of 95% and margin of error of +/- 5. For those interested in this survey methodology stuff, wikipedia does a good job of giving an overview. For everyone else, let's just keep conversing.

Removing Jarvis bike lanes requires environmental assessment states legal opinion commissioned by Bike Union

P1070156  Ride For Jarvis Bike Lanes

The Toronto Cyclists Union yesterday threw down a legal opinion (drafted by Iler Campbell LLP) at the City, making the claim that City Council's vote to remove the Jarvis bike lanes and install a 5th lane requires a full Schedule C Environmental Assessment. If the City doesn't respond within 10 days they will approach the provincial Ministry of Environment.

The Torontoist:

Commissioned by the Cyclists Union, Iler Campbell LLP’s opinion contends that bike lane decommissioning and a reversible centre-lane addition on Jarvis Street is subject to a minimum of a Schedule B project screening—that is, screening for projects that “have the potential for some adverse environmental effects.” However, the firm recommends that a more intensive Schedule C assessment (for projects that “may have significant environmental effects”) be undertaken.

Installing the 5th reversible lane (as it was before the original environmental assessment was done) would go against the Official Plan and provincial guidelines that recommend improving streets for active transportation. It would inhibit active transportation and encourage more air pollution and worse health. It is hoped that the City and/or the province will agree it requires a Schedule C Environmental Assessment because of these potential adverse effects so the public can be properly consulted.

Can the Jarvis bike lanes be saved?

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

Wildcards: 6

  • 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.

Protest of Michael Bryant's lecture at the ROM

There will be a demonstration against Michael Bryant this Thursday March 29 at 5pm at the Royal Ontario Museum. The following is the press release from Benjamin Mueller-Heaslip, who is organizing the event. His contact info is at the bottom and you can contact him with questions and concerns:

On Thursday March 29 Michael Bryant, the former Attorney General and MP who was excused from standing trial after killing cycle messenger Darcy Allan Sheppard, will be lecturing the Liberal Party at the Royal Ontario Museum.

The incident was captured by surveillance video and witnessed by many who were willing to share their accounts. A special prosecutor, Richard Peck, with ties to the liberal party worked with the defence team to document and publish Mr. Bryant’s version of the events.

The exceptionality of Mr. Bryant’s case is undeniable: no rational person in the same circumstances could expect the exemption from a fair trial and weighing of evidence that was granted to our ex-attorney general. Anyone without his political connections, that is. In fact, it’s quite difficult to imagine a more clear-cut example of legal bias.

A step backwards as City fails to make Union Station at Front Street safer for cyclists

City Council on March 5th adopted the plan for Front Street with a more pedestrian friendly design that reduces the width to two wider lanes. Yet in the process they ignored the needs of cyclists by not including bike lanes, and even made access to Union Station worse by moving bike parking and BIXI stations away. What it did keep intact is loading and taxi zones and even places for cars to do u-turns, all of which meant something had to be compromised, namely bike lanes.

American city leaders learning bike design practices from the best

It's been pointed out (by Streetsfilm here and by others) that the Dutch actually had to work at getting the best bike infrastructure in the world, it wasn't in the genetics. (If that were true I would have seen a lot more Dutch farmers biking everywhere while growing up in rural Alberta.) This film looks at a recent trip to the Netherlands by American city leaders.

Recenty Streetfilms joined a group of city leaders from Chicago, Washington, DC and Miami on a study tour of the Netherlands, through the Bikes Belong Foundation's Bicycling Design Best Practices Program. The program shows American transportation professionals and policy makers real life examples of what it looks like to invest in cost-effective bicycle facilities. This video takes you on a tour of the incredibly well thought out street designs in the Netherlands. You'll see the infrastructure, hear from the experts on the ground, and watch the tour participants react and imagine how they might implement similar designs in American cities.

The trials and tribulations of getting to the nitty gritty of bike lane politics

I feel like I should explain (while also being a bit pugilistic, fighting the good fight). Being a volunteer blogger I have to rely on the goodwill of others who have gathered information for me, or who are actively involved in the issue and are willing to share with me what's going on. I think it's better to get the information out there while couching it in terms like "likely" and "maybe" rather than keep it locked up. Last Friday's post about Councillor Wong-Tam is a case in point.

That blog post presented information on how Councillor Wong-Tam had sent a memo calling for a "trial" on Sherbourne separated bike lanes to City cycling manager Dan Egan without a public announcement. Cycling advocates didn't know that she was planning to do so, and there didn't seem to be any public record of her planning to do so except for a passing reference in the Dandyhorse Magazine about "bike spotting" from across Canada.

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