Bike Lanes on Jarvis … In OurHomeToronto
OurHomeToronto has started the process of converting Jarvis Street into a bike corridor marking the first tangible sign of one of city cycling advocates’ biggest victories.
While the installation will cause a few partial lane restrictions over the next week, the road will remain open for all but a day or two of the work. Today, workers will remove parking machines and, once rush hour is finished, the reversible centre lane will be closed to traffic. Over the next week, signs and signals for the centre lane will be taken down. Next Saturday, July 25, crews will paint the bike lanes along Jarvis between Bloor and Queen streets, closing down short sections of the road for a few hours. Sidewalks will stay open. “They should be able to get it done in one day, weather permitting,” said Daniel Egan, the city’s manager of cycling and pedestrian infrastructure. There will be some lane restrictions over the following week as workers install signs and paint diamonds along the bike route. The installation of bike lanes on the street, which is heavily used at rush hour by drivers heading to and from the core, is a major point of contention between municipal politicians and advocacy groups on both sides of the issue.
Cycling advocates argue adding the bike lanes will help bike commuters by connecting to east-west bike lanes on Gerrard and Wellesley, allow residents of the dense neighbourhood along the street to cycle more easily and make it easier for students at schools on Jarvis to cycle. “It’s nice to see a large project moving forward,” said Yvonne Bambrick, executive director of the Toronto Cyclists Union. “It’s been a goal of this city to return Jarvis, which was once a grand boulevard and cultural corridor, to a more liveable street, rather than what it’s become, which is sort of an urban highway.”
Residents of Rosedale and other neighbourhoods to the north, meanwhile, opposed the plan on the basis that it would jam the street at rush hour. A traffic study by external consultants concluded that the bike lanes would add two minutes to rush hour travel time for cars on Jarvis. City council voted 28 to 16 in favour of the plan in May of 2009. In the months since, cycling advocates have had mixed success in getting the city to improve infrastructure for bikes. While council has approved a bike-sharing program to launch next year, it also nixed a pilot project to install curb-separated bike lanes on University Avenue when Councillor Paula Fletcher mistakenly voted against the proposal. The city has also added fewer kilometres of bike lanes overall this year than in past years, Ms. Bambrick said. The issue, however, may not be done for good. Mayoral candidate Rocco Rossi has pledged to remove the bike lanes if elected in the fall. Rob Ford has also been a frequent opponent of bike lanes.
Adrian Morrow … with comments from James Metcalfe
Toronto — Globe and Mail Update