Cyclists take over Jarvis to protest bike lane removal
Organizers estimate nearly 1000 rallied in protest to Mayor Ford's cuts to bike lanes on arterial roads in the city after meeting at Carlton and Jarvis Wednesday night. (Lucas Oleniuk/Toronto Star)
On Wednesday evening hundreds of cyclists filled Jarvis St., sidewalk to sidewalk, rallying to preserve the one precious strip they call their own.
“We deserve a safe place to ride our bikes. This not about partisanship, this is not about how we feel about Rob Ford. This is about how we feel about biking safely on our streets in Toronto,” yelled Dave Meslin, one of the organizers of the rally, into a megaphone.
The sentiment was endorsed by the musical jangling of hundreds of bike bells.
- Related: Online reaction of cyclist protest
City councillors voted 28-9 last week to scrap the bike lanes on Jarvis St., as well as Birchmount Rd. and Pharmacy Ave., in Scarborough, at the cost of nearly half a million dollars. Cyclist advocates were quick to protest that decision, saying the city is already falling behind on bike lanes.
The Jarvis lane will remain open until a separated lane on neighbouring Sherbourne St. is opened in late 2012.
Andrea Garcia of the Toronto Cyclists Union says 1,200 people signed up to attend the “Ride for Jarvis, Ride For Toronto” event on Facebook. She says around 300 to 400 gathered in Allan Gardens. Later estimates show the attendance to be around 1,000 people.
“My bike’s been stolen,” proclaimed the sign of Stefoknee Wolscht, who came to protest on foot. “Don’t steal my bike lanes too.”
“Bike lanes are harder to replace than bikes,” added the regular Jarvis St. cyclist.
Rick Caborn, a cyclist in the protest, doesn’t usually use Jarvis St., but his wife just got a bike and is about to start. Once the lanes are gone “she’ll still be riding down Jarvis but less safe, causing congestion, confusion for other drivers and being a bigger hassle,” he said.
Frustrated motorists got a taste the hassle Wednesday evening, as they were forced to do U-turns to avoid the cyclist procession.
But Meslin isn’t letting the lanes go without a fight.
“If those trucks come out here to take out these lines, I’ll put my body down in front of those trucks.” yelled Meslin to the crowd. “Who’s with me?”
— Alyshah Hasham, Staff Reporter