Mayor Rob Ford and Councillor Parker are in full spin mode as they try to justify the vote to remove the Jarvis bike lanes, while they attempt to steamroller over Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam.
Councillor Wong-Tam is the Councillor for Ward 27, which includes Jarvis Street. She won the last election over Ken Chan; Wong-Tam campaigned on keeping the Jarvis bike lanes; Chan campaigned to remove them. Wong-Tam won.
Wong-Tam only found out 5 minutes before the PWI committee vote that Parker was going to introduce a motion to remove the Jarvis bike lanes, with no plan on what to do with that road space.
Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam, whose ward includes Jarvis Street, argued local residents should have been consulted and suggested Thursday’s motion was a direct order from the mayor.
“Someone gave him orders from higher above,” she said, noting Mr. Parker told her, “I’m going to kill Jarvis bike lanes,” minutes before he introduced his motion.
“He got his marching orders from somewhere. I take my marching orders from the residents,” she said.
The motion may also jeopardize $1 million plans in the works for the Jarvis-Charles intersection:
<Greenery, new features to improve street life, straightening out a “weird jog” in Jarvis and synchronizing stop lights to improve flow, all funded with so-called Section 37 funds already earmarked, are suddenly on hold, she said.
“What Councillor Parker did was irresponsible. This looks like a vengeful move to take away the bike lanes,” she said. “That’s not good urban planning.”
This is how Councillor Parker spun his steamroll in his email to his ward citizens. He attempts to make it seem like he's opening up the discussion, while at the same time completely ignoring Councillor Wong-Tam. If Parker had concerns why not discuss it first with Wong-Tam and have her put forward the motion? Isn't that the way City Council usually works? Isn't that what happened with the Pharmacy and Birchmount bike lanes? Why is Ford so eager to play up "election promises" while willing to completely ignore a local councillor's campaign promise to keep the Jarvis bike lanes?
A memo from Councillor John Parker to the residents of Ward 26, Don Valley West:
From: John Parker
Toronto City Councillor
Ward 26 - Don Valley West
Toronto is a large and growing city. As bad as our gridlock problems are at present, they can only be expected to become more challenging in the future. We cannot grow enough roads to accommodate every new resident in a private car; alternative means of mobility will be required. Included among these measures will be increased use of rapid transit for long trips and bicycles for short ones.
To be fair, it is important also that we make the most of the motor vehicle carrying capacity that our roads can provide. And there will always be a robust debate between competing modal priorities and other considerations as investments of scarce land area and taxpayer dollars come under consideration.
Bike lanes provide a logical way to accommodate bicycles and cars on the same roadways. If well thought out and implemented, bike lanes can serve the interests of both cyclists and motorists, keeping each out of the way of the other. The value and importance of establishing a responsible bike lane network in Toronto is beyond debate.
Since 2001 the city of Toronto has had a comprehensive bike plan that envisions a network of bike lanes throughout the downtown area. It was drawn up after widespread consultation and was prepared by the city's transportation services department together with Marshall Macklin Monaghan, one of Canada's leading engineering firms.
The plan includes bike lanes on Sherbourne. It does not include bike lanes on Jarvis. Sherbourne is about one block to the west of Jarvis. Bike lanes have been implemented on Sherbourne and they provide ample capacity for bike traffic.
In the last council session a plan was drawn up to make improvements to the Jarvis Street corridor. It featured the removal of the centre lane (reducing Jarvis from five lanes to four) and measures aimed at enhancing the streetscape with generous landscaping and other humanizing elements along widened sidewalks.
A debate ensued between those who favoured the efforts to rescue Jarvis from its status as an unsightly traffic corridor and those who favoured retaining the valued fifth traffic lane.
Somehow, close to the end of the process, the decision was made to abandon both the fifth lane and the plan to improve the Jarvis streetscape, and instead to implement bike lanes. The decision to implement the bike lanes was then expedited and the bike lanes were installed in short order.
At last week's meeting of the City of Toronto Public Works and Infrastructure Committee the matter of bike lanes was the main item on the agenda. The key proposal included a number of measures to intended to improve elements of the existing bike plan - in many cases proposing "separated" bike lanes to provide greater safety for cyclists, as has been done in other cities. The proposal included separated bike lanes for Sherbourne.
I voted in favour of these proposals, and they were approved.
In the course of the day I brought forward two motions. One was to ask staff to consider establishing a bike path as an extension to Redway Road near Thorncliffe and Leaside in order to provide a link between Millwood Road and Bayview. The other was to reverse the earlier decision concerning Jarvis Street. Both motions passed and will proceed to consideration by the full Council.
Some have suggested that my Jarvis motion was a step backward for the cause of bike lanes. It was not. It was a recognition that the bike lanes on Jarvis are redundant. It also creates the potential for a return to the earlier discussion regarding Jarvis, a discussion that got started in the last council session but somehow got sidetracked.
Official email form letter from Rob Ford. They left out the detail that the extra wait time is all of 2 minutes, that staff had proposals to improve the wait time, and that they do not have a plan to actually replace the bike lanes with the 5 lane in the centre as before:
Thank you for your email regarding the bike lanes on Jarvis Street. I appreciate hearing from you.
Toronto’s economy loses billions of dollars every year from gridlock and traffic congestion. We need to make the situation better – not worse. The Jarvis Street bike lanes experiment has been a failure. Ninety-four percent of commuters now face longer commutes on Jarvis Street. Over 15,000 commuters each day are suffering from longer travel times, for the sake of 600 additional cyclists.
The City should remove the bike lanes as soon as possible and improve travel times for thousands of daily commuters. City staff have been directed to develop a low-cost plan to do so. Bike lanes were never intended to be installed on Jarvis Street. The original Environmental Assessment recommended against installing bike lanes – but City Council amended the report to approve bike lanes anyway.
As promised during the mayoral election, I am dedicated to delivering customer service excellence, creating a transparent and accountable government, reducing the size and cost of government and building a transportation city.
Thank you again for taking the time to share your thoughts. Please feel free to contact my office again at any time.
Mayor Rob Ford
City of Toronto
Aren't you glad that our mayor makes decisions based from his gut feelings and then has the Ford Team come up with justifications after the fact?
AndrewM (not verified)
Here's a letter that I sentTue, 06/28/2011 - 11:20
Here's a letter that I sent to my councillor about this nonsense.
I write regarding the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee's recent vote to remove the bicycle lanes on Jarvis Street. I understand that this issue will be debated and voted on by council on July 12 or 13 of this year.
When this issue comes before council, I hope that you will vote to preserve the existing bicycle lanes.
I refer to two key source documents in this letter and hope that you will review them prior to the debate and vote on this issue:
Jarvis is safer with the bike lanes
I use the Jarvis street bicycle lanes regularly. My experience is that these lanes have made a busy street accessible, safe, and convenient. My observations are bolstered by traffic counts, which, according to the Bikeway Network Update, demonstrate that bicycle traffic on Jarvis has increased more than three-fold since these lanes were installed.
These lanes also provide a route for users of the 8 Bixi stations installed on or within 1 block of Jarvis.
The bicycle lanes don't interfere with car traffic
Bicycle traffic has increased without any significant reduction in car traffic - according to the Bikeway Network Update, car volumes on the street remain at approximately 13,000 during an eight hour period - the same levels that existed prior to the installation of the bike lanes - so Jarvis now accomodates nearly three times as many bicycles without any reduction in car usage.
Furthermore, because Jarvis still accomodates four lanes of car traffic, any increase in car travel time has been minimal - as low as two minutes for southbound trips during morning rush hour. Northbound trips during afternoon rush hour have increased by only 3 to 5 minutes, much of which is probably due to delay caused by the northbound left turn at Gerrard. Rather than removing bicycle lanes, we should be trying to address the specific problem by installing an advanced green or otherwise better accomodating left turns at that intersection, or at least trying these inexpensive, simple, and minimally disruptive techniques before taking the drastic step of removing the bicycle lanes.
The process used to bring this to council was flawed
I am particularly concerned about the manner in which this matter has been brought before council for a vote. The PWIC tabled this issue without any prior notice, without any community consultation, and most importantly without speaking to the local councilor. If the city intended to make significant changes in our ward, I would hope that you would be notified first, be given the opportunity to consult with your constituents, and represent our interests when the matter was brought before council for a vote. In fact, the PWIC expressly voted against a motion to do just that.
This sets a dangerous precedent for future unilateral action by committee members. Even if some councilors support the removal of the bicycle lanes, I would hope that they will recognize how the process that has been followed turns democracy on its head, and will vote against the PWIC's recommendation to remove the bicycle lanes until a fair procedure has been followed.
Removing the bicycle lanes will be expensive
I understand that the city anticipates a significant shortfall in next year's budget. Surely the city could spend the money that it will cost to remove the bicycle lanes on more pressing issues.
For these reasons, I ask that you vote to preserve the existing bicycle lanes on Jarvis street.
Cea (not verified)
Toronto is truly pathetic onTue, 06/28/2011 - 15:08
Toronto is truly pathetic on bike lanes, but the north end of the Jarvis lane is scary because it lane ends just where the traffic accelerates to start the race up the Mount Pleasant freeway. A biker is suddenly thrown into that traffic, and the only sensible way north is to keep going on Mount Pleasant and then cross at the pedestrian lights. Either make that work clearly, or pave the bumpy Sherborne lane smoothly and use that. And once you get that far, what about finding a north-south link that goes further north than the existing ones?
John (not verified)
In his email, John ParkerTue, 06/28/2011 - 16:54
In his email, John Parker says we need a bike lane on Sherbourne, not Jarvis. And yet he voted against a common sense motion to postpone the removal of the Jarvis bike lanes until pot-holed Sherbourne had been resurfaced. He complains about a lack of consultations when the bike lanes were added to the Jarvis streetscape redesign. And yet, he voted against a motion to hold community consultations before taking action on Jarvis. Finally, Cllr Parker did not even move to restore the original streetscape redesign for Jarvis, with wider sidewalks but no bike lanes. Instead he effectively voted to restore the reversible middle lane whose removal was the purpose for the streetscape redesign process in the first place.
Cllr Parker has no idea how much any of this will cost. Restoring the reversible lane will require the purchase and installation of new signal lights, not just a new paint job. In addition, as Herb points out, it puts in jeopardy $1 million in Section 37 funds that were to be used to improve the streetscape. These funds cannot be banked or thrown into general revenue. They can only be used for local streetscape improvements. And to top it off, there was a cheap fix available for the slight increase in travel times caused by the presence of the lanes. The City data suggests that restoring the middle lane will not increase road usage and will only scarcely improve travel times for motorists. It's one thing to screw over cyclists and the Jarvis community in order to help out motorists. It's another thing altogether to screw over cyclists and the Jarvis community in order to help nobody at all, at the taxpayer's expense.
John Parker has a reputation as a "principled conservative." But Parker's motion is a needless waste of money that will neither improve traffic, improve the streetscape, nor improve the Jarvis neighbourhood. It certainly will not improve cycling or provide new transportation options. This is not conservatism. This is pure, needless destruction that could cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars.
John Parker denies he was "instructed" to kill the Jarvis lanes, but it seems hard to believe a man of principle would make such a pointless and costly motion unless he was forced to do so by someone more powerful.
So which is it, Councillor Parker? Have you lost your principles, or your balls?
Everybody seems to have lostThu, 06/30/2011 - 00:33
Everybody seems to have lost sight of the fact that the centre lane of Jarvis was removed to restore the public realm / streetscape. Bike lanes were only the added at the end, giving rise to an intensely polarizing debate, and of course the rhetoric "war on the car".
Rob Ford wants people to think this is about bike lanes, when in fact it is about moving wealthy drivers swiftly through an urban neighbourhood.
Maybe all we really need is a modern day Robin Hood?
Elizabeth BienkowskiThu, 06/30/2011 - 09:08
Elizabeth Bienkowski (email@example.com) sent me this email:
A look at the map suggestsThu, 06/30/2011 - 18:53
A look at the map suggests the Moore Park Residents' Association has an inconsistent standard here. For at least half of its length, Moore Avenue between Bayview and Mount Pleasant has the width to support three or four lanes and a top speed of at least 50 km/h. Instead, it has a top speed of 40 and extensive and expensive traffic calming measures in place. The Moore Park residents' association hardly has a unique attitude here: residents of the Annex work to exclude traffic while driving themselves. The rule seems to be: promote your right to unimpeded access to other people's streets, but keep them off your own. In the long run, this attitude leads to an unsustainable conflict, and it will bring car culture down. I just don't want it to bring our city down with it.
Some other posts aboutFri, 07/01/2011 - 11:00
Some other posts about Jarvis. Mez Dispenser:
Ford for Toronto:
Random cyclist (not verified)
What is really interesting isSat, 07/02/2011 - 08:52
What is really interesting is what WongTam says about the Jarvis decision.
She doesn't say she supports the Jarvis lanes she says she wants consultations
about their removal.
Before the cycling community dumps on Parker
they should find out if Wong Tam actually supports keeping the lanes.
I have doubts.
scarbarian77 (not verified)
The irony of this is JohnSat, 07/02/2011 - 12:49
The irony of this is John Parker's ward is full of speed bumps and traffic signalling designed to slow down traffic. If his residents were really concerned about 2 minutes of commuting time, he could just remove those speed bumps.
This is a narrow sighted move by Parker - he thinks that Jarvis should just be a highway for a few rich people in his ward to drive to work, while the rest of Toronto suffers by losing another bike lane. The worst part is congestion will only get worse, since less people commuting by bike means more people will be forced to drive in a car on Jarvis instead.
Maybe Parker should spend more time thinking about who he represents, and less time tweeting about hot chicks.
Random cyclist (not verified)
If we are talking aboutTue, 07/05/2011 - 17:42
If we are talking about 13,000 cars, and they are being delayed by 3 minutes (at the low end), that's 39,000 additional minutes of idling. That's more than an hour of extra idling per additional cyclist on Jarvis. And of course, these are almost certainly not additional cyclist on the road - just on Jarvis, instead of Sherbourne, Church, etc.
Installing these lanes seems to have been more anti-car than pro-bike, or even pro-environment.
Oh yes, that's it: putting inWed, 07/06/2011 - 09:21
Oh yes, that's it: putting in bike lanes hurts the environment. By that measure, so do sidewalks. If we took out the sidewalks on Jarvis we could fit at least one more car lane. And in theory that would reduce the waiting time by another 2 minutes.
There is no end to this game that you and Rob Ford are playing. You can always argue that if only another car lane is squeezed in here or there that you could reduce idling by a couple minutes. Meanwhile, you encourage more and more people to drive, and they will drive because there are no alternatives. So any additional time you save is soon lost because of more cars on the road.
Even if you win this battle we all lose.
On the Jarvis bike lanes:Wed, 07/06/2011 - 02:45
On the Jarvis bike lanes: look, John Parker's constituents don't really like cars a lot. Try driving in his ward sometime: you'll encounter a whole lot of traffic calming. I lived in that ward back when Jane Pitfield represented it, and we got asked about traffic calming (read exclusion) for our street, which we voted against. We thought that if we could drive on other peoples' streets, they should have the right to drive on ours. Judging from developments before and since, we made up a distinct minority.
This makes the whole argument that if the residents of Jarvis apply traffic calming to their street, 13000 motorists will sit there in gridlock, polluting away so infuriating, since judging from the policies in Toronto, many of those 13000 motorists would not welcome other peoples' car on "their" streets. Almost everyone, except the very poor or the very honest, plays the same game: treat my car as an wonderful invention, an indispensable mod con, a vital and treasures possession. Treat other people's cars like ebola or leprosy.