Jarvis bike lanes protest planned for Wednesday
More than 900 cyclists are planning to take over Jarvis St. on Wednesday evening to protest city council's contentious decision to remove the road's bike lanes.
City council voted 28-9 last week to spend $410,000 to erase the year-old, two-kilometre bike lanes on Jarvis St., as well as lanes on Birchmount Rd. and Pharmacy Ave. in Scarborough.
The same vote also approved a plan, put forward by Ford ally and Public Works Chair Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong, for a 14-kilometre network of physically separated lanes on four downtown streets, and asked staff to try to avoid erasing the Jarvis lanes until there is a protected lane on nearby Sherbourne St.
"While we agree with Councillor Minnan-Wong that Toronto needs a network of protected bike lanes, we strongly oppose the notion that they emerge at the cost of infrastructure elsewhere," said Andrea Garcia, director of advocacy for the Toronto Cyclists Union, the group planning Wednesday's event.
A Facebook page for the event lists 937 confirmed attendees as of noon Tuesday.
"While we move forward with protected bike lanes, the Ford administration sent a strong signal that people in cars matter more than people on bikes. Mayor Ford chose to ignore the facts and the community while making decisions based on an ideology that bikes don’t belong on arterial roads," Garcia said.
Organizers plan to meet at 6:30 p.m. at Allan Gardens, east of Jarvis St., between Carlton and Gerrard Sts., and will then takeover the entire roadway in a critical mass-styled ride.
"This is a family friendly event where we plan to ride together on Jarvis Street and take lanes of traffic. Come one, come all!" the event description states.
The Jarvis lanes were installed last year at a cost of $59,000 and at the expense of a fifth car lane, which changed direction depending on the time of day.
Staff say the bike lanes prolong car commutes from two to five minutes during rush hours.
The protected lanes, likely similar to those in Montreal, will be a first for Toronto but most will probably go on streets that already have painted lanes. With the loss of Jarvis, Birchmount (2.5 km) and Pharmacy (3.4 km), while adding Dawes Rd. (2 km), the overall cycling network shrinks.