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?