Why kill the Jarvis bike lanes and at the same time claim to be building a bikeway network?
Everyone with half a brain and who was honest enough to the traffic experts knows that Jarvis works with bike lanes. Car traffic volumes were the same before and after. Logically, putting back the fifth lane wouldn't change car traffic volumes either. With bottlenecks at the top and bottom of Jarvis, it doesn't matter how many lanes you install in between, only so many cars can squeeze through the pinch point during any period of time.
We also know that the number of vehicles entering downtown hasn't changed in the last 20 years - there is no traffic congestion problem downtown.
We also know that the original Jarvis Street Environmental Assessment always called for a reduction to four car lanes, whether it be for increased sidewalks or bike lanes. At the City Council meeting a number of councillors brought up the ghost of the EA as an argument for removing the bike lanes, yet they were all to willing to ignore it as Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong called for the re-installation of the fifth car lane.
We know that the city is in a budget crisis and yet a councillor's pet project would cost $200,000 that would have no significant positive impact for anyone. We also had a pretty good idea that most motorists who use Jarvis aren't even actually anti-bike lane, even on Jarvis. So why did the Jarvis bike lanes die?
The answer is Politics, claims Marcus Gee. And politics follows a different logic:
The Jarvis lanes were a red flag to motorists from the start. Jarvis is one of the few broad streets taking car commuters in and out of downtown. Removing the roadway’s reversing fifth lane to make room for bikes added minutes to that painful commute. Suburban councillors with car-commuting residents denounced the bike lanes. They were doomed from the moment Mayor Rob Ford took office on a pledge to end the “war on the car.”
Jarvis had to be sacrificed if the mayor and hostile councillors were ever going to back bike lanes elsewhere. It was an unspoken tradeoff: You can have your lost traffic lane on Jarvis back if we can take away space on other, less vital roads for bike lanes.
That will strike cycling zealots as the worst kind of appeasement. In their world, cycling is so virtuous and car commuting so ruinous that making any kind of concession amounts to surrender. They are vowing to fight on to save the Jarvis lanes during the 18-month reprieve they won for the lanes at Wednesday’s council meeting.