JOHN LORINC: Jarvis bike lanes an election wedge issue?

Yet another press release from the Rocco Rossi camp appeared in my inbox late Friday afternoon, declaring – or more accurately, re-declaring – his outrage at the Jarvis Street bike lane, which apparently got a regulatory green light last week.

Predicting that a Jarvis bike lane will “exasperate traffic congestion” (sic), Rossi decried the decision to press ahead with a project that has spent years in the approvals process as a “clear affront to democracy and the voters of Toronto.”

A less trigger-happy candidate would surely know better than to commit this kind of nonsense to print. Why? Think ahead to Mayor Rossi’s longer-than-expected do-to list circa spring, 2014, when he’s struggling to push through the remaining items on his five-point mandate.

By the logic of his Friday statement, future opponents will get to slap Rossi around for running roughshod over the voters’ intentions. So the spin begs a question: at what point in a mandate does the ruling party or leader lose the moral authority to act? (Answer: when the mandate ends.)

Rossi is apparently trying to make Jarvis Street into the island airport of the 2010 campaign. He’s magnifying a local planning decision into a symbol of what he alleges is wrong with David Miller’s city hall, just as Miller himself positioned the bridge as a symptom of the cronyism that pervaded Mel Lastman’s regime.

It may also work effectively as a wedge for Rossi because George Smitherman defends bike lanes on arterials and didn’t have anything to say one way or the other about the Jarvis redesign when he was the MPP for the area.

More than all this, though, Rossi’s move has a decidedly familiar feel. This is the sort of thing John Tory did in 2003, when Rossi ran his campaign: they employed a blunderbuss approach, flooding the media with daily pronouncements.

Indeed, so far in this race, Rossi seems to be playing the hare to Smitherman’s tortoise. According to conventional wisdom, Furious George is keeping his powder dry, assembling the team, laying the foundation, etc.

Or is he just being complacent?

When the budget came out last week, Rossi had a pithy response ready to roll: “Toronto budget delivered on Mardi Gras – how appropriate,” he told The Sun. “It has been Fat Tuesday at City Hall for too long.” His financial analysis, such as it was, seemed largely borrowed from the number-crunching that’s been coming out of the Toronto Board of Trade. But he succeeded in getting himself into the story.

Smitherman’s team, by contrast, took the better part of a day to come up with a critique so flat and clichéd that budget chair Shelley Carroll simply brushed it aside in The Globe and Mail with a been-there-done-that parry.

What’s with that? For all Smitherman’s success as a parliamentarian and a minister, his skill as a responsive campaigner remains open to question. He was the mastermind of Barbara Hall’s disastrously unfocused 2003 run, of course, and there are some hints that he hasn’t learned from his mistakes, the most glaring of which is adopting a no-profile front-runner stance in an incumbent-free race.

He’s got nothing but a placeholder for a website, has put his campaign office out of sight of the public (as Hall did), and lacks any sort of clear statement of purpose. By contrast, Rossi, who needs as much free name recognition as he can get, is on his second round of major public speeches, and is fiercely staking out his turf in the media and on social networking sites.

It all makes one wonder: when will the tortoise get off its ass and start waddling?


  1. Rossi is correct, but for all the wrong reasons.

    I’m not that happy with bike lanes on Jarvis either. The City planned wider sidewalks and a more pedestrian-friendly cross-section. At the last minute, the cyclist lobby got involved, demanded bike lanes here (though Sherbourne is the next street over, and has a full bike lane from Rosedale to Queen’s Quay).

    I would have preferred bike lanes on Church Street, which would allow permanent curbside parking as well. Bike lanes south of Queen isn’t going to be likely on Jarvis, and at the north end, I feel that biking up Mount Pleasant road is not a pleasant experience. On the north of Church, it turns into bike-laned Davenport Road, and would make for a pleasant route into the downtown core all the way from the north and northwest. I used that route when I worked at St. Mike’s, and would have loved bike lanes on Church, but still found it a better route than Jarvis.

  2. I would echo that comment, but maybe less politely. The safest thing for cyclists is not a white line painted down the road – it is to be riding with other cyclists. Adding a duplicate route so close to the Sherbourne lane will dilute bicycle traffic and could make cyclists’ experience worse not better.

    With Jarvis, as with University – why are cycling advocates trying to create lanes that are not in the original 2001 Toronto bike plan? Get back to fighting to complete the original network, please!

  3. Nice synopsis of this, John.

    Sean… what’s wrong with bikelanes on all major north-south (and east-west) streets?

    There is dedicated space for cars on every street, and dedicated space for pedestrians on every street too.

    If we want those who choose to bike to be safe and “out of the way” of car drivers… then bikelanes everywhere make the most sense.

  4. Michael – we need to encourage cyclists on *all* streets.

    Would a driver like me biking up the middle of the curb lane on Jarvis… or in a bikelane, where I don’t “hold him up”?

  5. Every major road should have bike lanes whenever the street becomes re-developed. Jarvis, all the way up Mt. Pleasant would be great, same with Church continuing through Davenport.
    We’ll be riding on these streets anyway, why not make them safer?

  6. I’m a regular cyclist that lives off Jarvis street, and I agree with Michael and Sean here – bike lanes on Sherbourne and, ideally, Church St. make more sense than Jarvis. However, this may not be entirely the fault of cycling advocates.

    City Hall may have chosen bike lanes simply because it is easier to implement. Saturday’s National Post article on the issue highlights that a reduction in the number of lanes would require an environmental assessment and provincial approval, while the addition of bike lanes would not require these approvals.

    That said, I wonder if a “temporary” realignment/pedestrianization of a lane (akin to what was recently done on Broadway in Manhattan) would require an EA..

  7. I think one of the challenges for candidates is to articulate to drivers why cycling infrastructure can actually be in their favour in the long run. There are arguments that can break down the “cyclists vs. cars” dichotomy, and we’re not hearing them. As a candidate for Ward 27 Councillor (the area that includes Jarvis between Queen and Bloor) I took a shot at doing that here.

  8. Joe, yes, we need to encourage cyclists everywhere and make their experience as safe, fun, and convenient as possible. (But maybe not through bike lanes on all streets.) And kudos to for its role in that.

  9. Er, sorry, this site used to allow inline links. Maybe not anymore? Click on my name to find the blog post I’m referring to, if you’re interested.

  10. What needs to be pointed out is that Rossi’s statement is very misleading as it suggests to the uninformed voter that he as Mayor would have the power to kill a project he doesn’t approve of, even though it has already been approved by City Council and now the Ministry of the Environment. Since many people have very little idea of what powers the Mayor does and does not have, this is an easy way to lure potential voters who don’t realize how unlikely it is that Rossi could cancel Jarvis, even if he did get elected. (And for what it’s worth, I don’t think he will, but that’s another thread of discussion.)

    Interesting point about Smitherman, too. I am not surprised that he is laying back a bit, but I expect he will start to be more visible soon.

  11. A couple declarations/arguments are being repeated in the comments here and elsewhere. One goes something like, “We don’t need a bike lane on Jarvis since there’s one on Sherbourne and it is rarely used.”
    -As mentioned above, this suggests that there should only be specific streets that bikes are ‘supposed’ to travel on, and no one would say something like, “You don’t need Jarvis open to any vehicle traffic since there is another street close by.”
    -On the other hand, I’d be willing to entertain some idea that says “No bikes on Jarvis and no cars on Sherbourne.”
    -The bike lane on Sherbourne might be ‘underused’ (anyone actually counted?) but that likely has to do with it being full of potholes and bumps. It’s dangerous riding a bike on Sherbourne – avoiding potholes and watching surrounding traffic takes more than one set of eyes.
    -It might also be that Sherbourne isn’t exactly Toronto’s nicest street and people don’t want to ride along it.
    -It’s worth reminding that travelling on a bike isn’t all about getting from A (usually presumed to be a house north of Bloor) to B (some workplace ‘downtown’). Sure, people commute by bike, but people bike for many different reasons – shopping, eating, etc. And there’s no way a single bike lane to serve everyone’s commute route or daily needs/wants. With bike lanes, the MUST be choice for it to work properly.

    “Removing a lane or lanes will increase traffic congestion.”
    -the theory of ‘induced traffic’ is backed by sound research and evidence. ‘Induced traffic’ is the term for the discovery that adding lanes for cars on a congested route will actually *increase* traffic and congestion will stay the same, if not get worse. So, if your concern is traffic congestion, simply adding more lanes will not help you.
    -Consider that one lane dedicated to cars can be ‘repurposed’ to give *two* lanes to bicycles. Jarvis is not going from 5 to 4 lanes, but rather from 5 to 6.
    -More people cycling reduces traffic congestion. Again, more people cycling reduces traffic congestion.

  12. I find the few pro-bike comments somewhat disappointing because the last-minute hijack of the staff recommendations ensured that pedestrians (and the streetscape) had to lose. Jarvis was going to be a beautification scheme to narrow the roadway and allow for more landscaping and more space for pedestrians, who don’t get enough sidewalk space on several stretches of Jarvis.

    Let’s push for the completion of the bike network (quick, find Jarvis on that map!), rather than make everything a three or four way fight (cars, pedestrians, transit, bikes). I’ll chime in support for bike lanes on Bloor, but not Jarvis.

    Some of us bike, some of us drive, but we’re all pedestrians.

  13. @Sean Marshall

    As far as I can gather, the decision to put bike lanes in rather than a full blown street redesign had to do with an environmental assessment. An EA would take time and money, and would also require the city to hold public meetings. This current plan is really only changing the lines/rules on the street and, since it won’t change the width of the street no EA is required, and thus no public consultation (why Rossi is saying this ‘affront to democracy’ stuff – even though it has been publicly debated for years now.)

    I’d love to see Jarvis become a ‘complete street’ (space for peds, cyclists, drivers and a bit of green). Perhaps the city figured it couldn’t get these major changes implemented before the election. And repainting the lines on Jarvis doesn’t preclude it later getting a full makeover. Maybe getting rid of the ‘5th lane’ and adding bike lanes is a good start – everyone will find that it’s ok, the sky didn’t fall and be more receptive to further redesigns.. just a thought.

  14. Why do we need bike lanes on Jarvis if we already have them on Sherbourne? This doesn’t make sense. I commute downtown through that route every day and it’s bad enough as it is.

    Please give us car-drivers a break. It’s not our fault we live north of the 401, have kids and don’t want to bicycle 60 kms to work every day.

  15. Ellen writes: “Please give us car-drivers a break. It’s not our fault we live north of the 401, have kids and don’t want to bicycle 60 kms to work every day.”

    Sorry if I don’t cry a tear for you. That’s some horrible logic. Since 75% of people drive in this city (canada Census 2006), I find it hard to take seriously the “give us car drivers a break” comment.

    As for the comment about living north of the 401 being your fault: yes it is. You chose it. I don’t be grudge you for it though (and I don’t think you should assume that downtowners begrudge you either).

    But recognize that the city is built differently downtown and north of the 401. There are different travel patterns. From Dufferin in the west to the DVP in the east and south of St Clair, up to 30% of resident chose to ride their bikes. Giving up some road space in this area to bikes for safety reasons and the demands of local residents (remember they asked for both the wide sidewalk and the bike lanes) seems only fair.

    If your drive down Mt Pleasant and Jarvis is 3 minutes longer, so be it. I’ll be safer for it and the areas Jarvis passes through will also look more attractive.

  16. @Sean
    You’re right – and I’m right! I realize now that narrowing the street requires a *provincial* EA. The one you linked to is a municipal EA.

    Article in NP says, “Penelope Palmer, an engineer with the city’s transportation services department, said the original design called for the roadway to be narrowed and needed the province’s approval of an environmental assessment. No assessment is needed now that the bike lanes are included.”

  17. It appears to me that most people commenting don’t live in the area and don’t know the process here…
    1) I walk around Jarvis all the time… there is way more than enough sidewalk space in the area discussed. If you want to widen sidewalk.. close down a lane on Yonge St, that’s where we need more sidewalk.
    2) As a person who has NOT used a bicycle in over 10 years and drives along Jarvis to work… I think we DO need these bicycle lanes.
    i) cyclists deserve a lane on *every* road… like cars.
    ii) Jarvis is a very dangerous stretch of road as it’s treated like a highway… as the people WHO LIVE HERE should be deciding the outcome here, I want a slower street so I don’t have to be as concerned about dying when I cross the street. I don’t tell you how to build streets in your ‘hood cuz I don’t care… don’t tell em how to build in mine.
    iii) As anyone who was involved in the process knows… the city wanted to develop the street with the community… everyone was asking for bike lanes.. this was not a hijacked process. We asked for bike lanes, they said no, we said why are you asking for our input then?

  18. Amazing that the stretch of Jarvis that will be affected from Isabella to Queen is only 2.3 km long and a 3 minute drive. I am for bike lanes on all arterial roads as well.

  19. Jarvis is a mess in the rush hours. I’ve had a lot of close calls in the reversible lane because some idiots think that you’re allowed to use it to turn left even if it is marked X. I’m surprised there aren’t more head on collisions. It seems a lot of people simply can’t understand how it’s supposed to work.

    People drive way way too fast on it. It feels horribly out of place compared to other downtown streets. I feel sorry for the people who have to walk down it, drivers are much more aggressive on it especially with people at crosswalks.

    I’m interested to see what they do with the parking on Jarvis. Since the reversible lane only works during rush hours, the rest of the time it’s set to southbound only while one southbound lane has curbside parking, meaning the road is 2 lanes each direction for the vast majority of the day and all night.

    Giving up one car lane for 2 bike lanes and still having a 4 car lanes left over does not seem to be unreasonable in the slightest.

  20. There’s a very good point made. I was also at those meetings, and apart from someone sanding outside with a petition demanding bike lanes – Hamish, I think, I didn’t see a lot of talk about bike lanes.

    I think the city went with bike lanes because it looks progressive, never mind the foot-dragging on the rest of the bikeway network, costs little, and got rid of the centre lane. Humanizing Jarvis with nicer sidewalks costs too much, perhaps. The city should have been honest with us residents, instead of a last-minute change at council at a meeting stacked with pro-bike people who circumvented the EA process by throwing out the final result reached at those.

    I like the idea of bike lanes on Church. It’s a commercial street with better connections to other bike-friendly routes.

  21. I totally agree with Eli. I live right against Jarvis St. and people treat it like a highway all the time. The street definitely needs some traffic calming measures. The bottom line is that the street system of the inner city was built and planned way back in the early-mid 19th century when there were no cars, just some horses and carriages. No way did they know back then that this system of streets would get choked up with cars coming from all over the 905. Give the more efficient modes of transportation their space and stop all this procrastination of implementing what works best.

  22. “exasperate traffic congestion”

    Ah, now I get it. Rocco Rossi’s aiming to be the next Allan Lamport…

  23. Tomorrow I will emerge from the subway and walk my daily route to work along a section of Broadway in Manhattan that is now beautifully streetscaped, with fully separated, green-painted bike lanes, sleek pedestrian seating areas and loads of lush landscaping. Yes, it made traffic a little slower by removing some car lanes. And it made the city a lot nicer. Last week the NYC government made the “pilot” changes permanent.

    Meanwhile, Toronto tears itself apart, again, over a smaller improvement that is a fraction of the scope. The world is moving on Toronto – get with the program or be left in the litter-strewn, faded-concrete, down-at-the-heels dust. The status quo is the way of Cincinnati and Cleveland and Rochester. Come join New York, Chicago, Boston, SF and the big boys as they remake themselves into better urban places.

  24. I’ve lived at Jarvis and Carleton for seven years. I went to both public meetings regarding the street design. I was furious to find out that all that work and consultation was thrown aside because a few dozen cyclists showed up at council.

    This project was supposed to beautify our neighbourhood and now it’s all about bike lanes and capitulation to the bike lobby.

    I’m with Rossi on this one. This whole thing should be halted until we can back to the original design. If we don’t get it right this time there is no re-do.

  25. A couple of points I’d like to make…

    Mark: While widening a road can cause more traffic on it, it also means it is operating at a higher throughput. Your argument is like saying that increasing bus frequency on overcrowding routes is pointless because soon those buses will be overcrowded too. WITH THAT SAID, this is not an endorsement to widen all streets. If all you do is add lanes it does become counterproductive, like adding so many buses to a route that bunching occurs. But reducing road capacity below traffic requirements without any realistic alternatives is not productive transportation planning.

    Ellen: If you choose to drive from north of the 401 into downtown, then you must be insane not to expect congestion. You can easily park at the subway or GO station and take the train into the city far quicker than driving. The people I feel for are those who live along the Mt. Pleasant corridor. Between St. Clair and Bloor, the subway is operating at max capacity and beyond an infrequent rush hour express bus, there are no real alternatives to driving for those in this area who work downtown. Improve transit connections between Rosedale and the Business District, and go nuts with bike lanes on Jarvis.

  26. Of course the city doesn’t consider the knock on effects of this – the three north bound lanes on jarvis carry a large volume of traffic north in the PM peak – some of these will shift to yonge street and church street clogging these. Of course yonge and bloor has already ceased to function due to the insane pedestrian only phase.

  27. @Ben Smith Thanks for the reply. I think I understand what you’re saying, but let me suggest that ‘desire’ and ‘want’ are important here and not easily quantifiable. I’m not familiar with the planning or traffic engineering discourse, but I think there’s something lost (a remainder that’s lost) when the movement of people is understood/reduced to ‘traffic’ – as a clearly countable unit of measurement. In other words, what I think you mean by ‘throughput’ is complex variable … there’s an elusive limit.
    When you say, “reducing road capacity below traffic requirements without any realistic alternatives is not productive transportation planning” you’re assuming a stable value of “traffic requirements.” I’m suggesting this ‘requirement’ changes -significantly- when a street or streets are altered.

  28. I generally avoid Jarvis whether I’m riding, biking, or walking. Why? Because cars are usually speeding excessively. It’s not pleasant to walk along with roaring trucks and SUV’s. It’s not possible to bike it without raising the ire of ever vehicle you prevent from doing 80kmph. Removing a lane and clogging up traffic might not be a bad thing safety-wise in the end.

  29. Re: Bike lanes vs. wider sidewalks. I am ever so slightly indifferent to whether or not Jarvis has bicycle lanes or more walking space, however, for me the bottom line is getting rid of the middle lane and instituting traffic calming measures so that Jarvis becomes a downtown street like Church, Sherbourne or Parliament. Right now it’s an expressway, and it feels dangerous and unpleasant.

    On the whole, I think Sean Marshall makes sense, but I will frankly take anything that calms the street at this point.

  30. Hi everyone,

    The time delay from the city study is 2 minutes, and that’s only during rush hour. The non rush-hour delay was found to be “negligible” (so, probably a few seconds).

    2 minutes is what drivers are complaining about. 2 minutes. To drive downtown, which is also where the subway goes. I wonder if they know about the subway? 🙂

    It would be nice to have wider sidewalks and more trees along Jarvis… but for the short-term, bikelanes will make stuff safer for pedestrians – as there will now be a 1.5 metre “buffer” zone between the sidewalks and moving traffic.

    Remember too, that drivers love parking in bikelanes… so are we just creating free parking for them? 🙂

  31. I think we are seeing the problem with the sudden decision by council to reverse the city staff report and go with bike lanes rather than pedestrian enhancements on Jarvis: because the case is relatively weak and the process was questionable, it can be used as a flashpoint or wedge to attack all of the other necessary and well-thought-out enhancements to cycling infrastructure in the city. It gives Rossi a stick with which to attack cycling and rally the driver vote. Bike lanes will undoubtedly go in, but it may be something of a Phyrric victory.

    I think the reason Kyle Rae got council to switch to bike lanes is that cyclists showed they would fight for them, whereas there didn’t seem to be a strong local community voice to fight for the improved streetscape option against the howls of drivers.

    As for drivers – two lanes eich way is more than enough on any downtown street.

    The real solution, as iSkycraper hints at, would have been to drop Jarvis to three lanes of motor vehicle traffic and put in both bike lanes and a more beautiful and appealing streetscape. That would have been worth an epic fight.

  32. Also, I hadn’t really focused before on the fact that both the frontrunners are former campaign managers of losing mayoral campaigns.

    Maybe John Laschinger should just run himself.

  33. I’m surprised Rossi’s overall point (no bike lanes on arterial roads) is not getting more attention, because it is so utterly ridiculous and shows such a profound lack of seriousness when it comes to understanding policy. This is truly in the same stupidity territory as Mammoliti wanting to call in the army to deal with the Malvern gangs.

    Asking a cyclist to make their way around the city without safe access to arterial roads is the functional equivalent of telling a driver who wants to get from Dundas & Bathurst to Bloor & Keele that he can only use the 401 to do so.


    And for this reason it is really wrong to say anything like – as Sean Marshall has – that Rossi “is right but for the wrong reasons”. Rossi is wrong. Full stop. He wants to prioritize cars above all else (without understanding that increasing transit and cycling helps alleviate congestion for drivers). Sean, if Rossi kills the current incarnation of the Jarvis plan, you won’t be getting streetscape improvements. You’ll just be getting what you currently have: Jarvis as an ill-placed expressway.

  34. I have to think that Ellen’s comment at 4:21, being so chock full of stupid in such a small comment, has to be a troll…

  35. As someone who has watched an “arterial” roadway change from a highway speeds to more appropriate downtown Toronto speeds I can say bike lanes work.

    Dundas East between Coxwell and Broadview used to be 4 lanes and cars would zip by at 60km, even past school crossing with school guards.

    Once the bike lanes and additional parking went in everything calmed right down. It’s now 2 lanes for cars and 2 lanes for bikes with many new left turn lanes. I no longer fear for my kids getting too close to the curb.

    I think the big challenge here is that anyone speeding down Mt. Pleasant resents that they have to slow down on Jarvis. They’re heading south of Queen and have no stake in the section in question other than as a pass through.

    I think this is more of a Robert Moses play than an Allan Lamport play.

  36. Did anyone with a grasp of Jarvis Street say they wanted Rossi to succeed? No. Are people upset how the bike lobby got their way by doing-around the EA process? Yes. I’m resigned, but not happy to this Jarvis cheap-out.

  37. Just to be clear, the Municipal EA was indeed undertaken in this long discussed / reviewed Jarvis streetscape improvement project.

    As an FYI for those who may not be entirely familiar with the Jarvis St. Redesign plan. Staff’s original mandate was to work towards beautification of, and improvements to, the pedestrian realm only. The centre reversible lane was going to be removed, the sidewalks widened and the roadway narrowed to make the entire corridor from Isabella to Queen St. less of an urban highway, and more of a residential street of historical significance.

    Cyclists were never originally considered within the scope of this project. The Toronto Cyclists Union saw this as a problem – cyclists, once again, being ignored as part of a major roadway reconstruction project…

    We pushed to have the project amended to include bike lanes instead of wider sidewalks, in particular because the widths of the sidewalks are already fairly broad and all meet the 1.8m standard – the local Councillor, Kyle Rae supported the staff report, with this bike lane amendment included, as his preferred plan for the project.

    After a day-long debate at City Council on May 25th, 2008 – 28 ELECTED councillors, and our current Mayor, the majority, voted in favour of the Jarvis St. Beautification plan, including bike lanes and many other improvements to the pedestrian realm. To say that the rest of the beautification plans for Jarvis were scraped in favour of bike lanes is misinformed.

    This is a precedent setting urban renewal project that now includes bike lanes.

    I am very excited to see this busy Toronto Street expand to allow even more vehicular traffic in a less highway-like environment – what was a 5 lane road will soon boast 6 lanes: 4 for motorized vehicles, 2 for non-motorized vehicles! Three cheers for progress 😉

    A couple points of clarification to earlier posts:

    As far as I understand, ‘traffic’ refers to vehicles. Bicycle are vehicles under the Highway Traffic Act, and are therefore part of ‘Traffic’.

    The rest of the beautification plans for Jarvis were not scraped in favour of bike lanes – there are still many improvements planned for the pedestrian realm in the project area between Isabella and Queen.

    The Staff report was adopted as presented based on the original scope of the beautification plan, with an amendment supported by the local councillor, to include bike lanes.

    Not only is Mayoral Candidate Rossi proposing to shelve the Jarvis St.plan, and ban future bike lanes on arterial roads,he is proposing to take out the ones that are currently in place.

    Ok, so tell me how it makes ANY sense to remove the
    extremely well used bike lanes on the Bloor Viaduct, College St, Harbord (or is that not an arterial…?). Seems to me Rossi is making a mistake with this position – I look forward to seeing which of the other Candidates will step up and counter this inflammatory, anti-bicycle stance.

    Oh, and as of 3 minutes ago, it now appears as though I will be debating Mr. Rossi about bike lanes on Le Drew Live tonight, 9:30pm on CP24. Wish me luck!

  38. Glen: at the exact same time as bike lanes; boards and bladers can travel in bike lanes as well.

  39. “Cyclists were never originally considered within the scope of this project. The Toronto Cyclists Union saw this as a problem”

    There were two well publicized public meetings on this very issue. I was at both. They were accessible to all. There were almost 200 people at the second meeting, where community consensus coalesced around the original plan. I don’t know if your group was represented or not at those meetings, but to suggest that there wasn’t adequate and accessible consultation is entirely untrue.

    “To say that the rest of the beautification plans for Jarvis were scraped in favour of bike lanes is misinformed.”

    Not in the least. Beautification plans, including a University Avenue type median were, in fact, scrapped because community wishes were jettisoned at council in favour of your group’s last minute, albeit more visible, display.

    It’s entirely disheartening to engage in what I thought was a honest and legitimate community process only to have it overturned at the last minute. As Rae and Smitherman seem to have no problem with that, then, yes, Rossi is right.

  40. @Glen: If teenagers could vote, we would probably have had them years ago.

  41. Yvonne, maybe to underscore the idiocy of Rossi’s proposal, you could ask him to plot a safe and *practical* bike route from Queen & Ossington to Parliament & Carlton (say, Jet Fuel) without using arterial roads.

  42. Rick – the scope of the project was to beautify the street and make improvements to the pedestrian realm only. Cyclists were not part of the plan – in my mind, it was flawed from the beginning. That said, cycling was less prevalent at the time than it is today as a form of transportation.

    From what I recall, the median part of the plan had been dropped prior to our getting involved in the conversation shortly after our launch in May ’08.

    I’m sorry you feel disheartened – we did too when we saw this project going ahead with no consideration for cyclists, that’s why we spoke up.

  43. Correction to my last post – the bike
    union became involved in the fall of

  44. I wish this Jarvis bike lane thing never happened.

    Let’s get worked up over a bike path worth fighting for: Bloor – Danforth. Jarvis has alternatives.

  45. My feeling is fighting for the bike lane on Jarvis was a political miscalculation (whether the bike lane itself is a good or bad thing is irrelevant), and engaging in Rossi’s wedge issue talking point is furthering that miscalculation. Ignore his rhetoric, and the issue will get much less traction. He is proving to be a divider, so he’ll come up with more wedges. Let him exhaust the wedges.

  46. If the Bike Lanes will “exasperate traffic congestion” then I for one am all for it!

    Anything that cause traffic congestion to be unhappy is good, maybe it will move away.

    By trying to stop these Bike Lanes, the Rossi camp is coming out in favour of traffic congestion.

    Why Rocco Rossi supports traffic congestion is not clear from the press advisory, but any mayoral candidate that gives comfort and aid to traffic congestion should be run out of town on a rail.

    Does Rocco Rossi have a secret agenda? Perhaps he works for oil companies. I know I do.

    My point is, if Rocco Rossi flip flops this much as a candidate that has never been elected even once, how will he turn this way and that in the confusing maelstrom of City Hall?

    One day he says he wants less traffic congestion, but today he wants to comfort traffic congestion by protecting it from painful remedies, which in preventing the remedy for the cause to prevent the symptom, he demonstrates again the tendency to flip flop.

    We do not need this freak as Mayor.

  47. Ouch, The no helmet cycling representative is going to debate Rossi?

    Bloodbath imminent. Hopefully Rossi will try to win over cyclists by not destroying her too much.

    @Rick, I heard of the drastic reduction/replacement of the original beatification plan. Whether it hurts to see your work scrapped or to see it ignored for political reasons you have my sympathy.

    I would have taken all the vigor put into the campaign to change it and focussed on repaving Sherbourne so that the Bike Lane there could be used while widening Church by 4 feet and accommodating Bike Lanes there, at least in the Ryerson area, but really, the gay village above would benefit much from a bike lane too.

    Unfortunately this new group has no particular mandate but to get in the press. And make rain. We need rain. Apparently.

  48. “From what I recall, the median part of the plan had been dropped prior to our getting involved in the conversation shortly after our launch in May ‘08.”

    The second public meeting was held in January of ’09 at the Ballet School. The median was present; the Bike Union was not.

  49. Rick – the scope of the project was to beautify the street and make improvements to the pedestrian realm only. Cyclists were not part of the plan – in my mind, it was flawed from the beginning. That said, cycling was less prevalent at the time than it is today as a form of transportation.

    From what I recall, the median part of the plan had been dropped prior to our getting involved in the conversation shortly after our launch in May ’08 (fall ’08).

    I’m sorry you feel disheartened – we did too when we saw this project going ahead with no consideration for cyclists, that’s why we spoke up. It was as much about the precedent being set as anything.

    (this was posted last night but did not appear for some reason)

  50. Oops – clearly had a technical issue – just reposted because only one of my posts turned up when I checked back in on my laptop vs. my desktop… strange glitch.

    Rick: I and several members / residents were at the ballet school in Jan ’09. And I saw Councillor Rae’s ‘preferred option’ including bike lanes as one of the panels being presented.

    Hello: Rossi actually refused to speak on the issue at the same time as me – almost cancelled in fact, and then demanded a separate green room (Diva). If he can’t have a civilized debate with the representative of a key stakeholder group in an issue he is speaking out on, how on earth can he expect to run the largest city in Canada?

    Our mandate is to achieve the meaningful integration of cyclists into the city’s transportation network. As for getting in the press – they call me because they can count on sound commentary on the issue. One of the greatest successes of our organisation to date is bringing cycling out of the fringe and into the mainstream transportation discussion.

  51. And the EA as submitted was not as comprehensive and did not have the level of scrutiny required of a Schedule C EA recommendation. The recommendation was to submit as Schedule A provisional of the inclusion of Bike Lanes. This circumvented the need for provincial involvement and a larger inquiry.

    It saves money and time, but at what cost?

    Essentially the beatification was downgraded within the scope of what will be more effective adjustment to the overall infrastructure. That can be opinion except where it is supported by the reduced workload of the city and province.

    After all were Jarvis to be split with a median reducing it to 4 lanes with the expectation of slowing traffic, reducing traffic so that the surrounding area can develop, then what?

    Traffic is slowed.

    People begin finding reasons to be there especially more pedestrains. They stop avoiding Jarvis. They also park cars and ervice vehicles, in 2 of those 4 lanes in set times. Traffic is further slowed. Slowed traffic increases bicycle presence. They have a need for a bike lane. They get it. Jarvis is now a 2 lane median blvd with bike lanes and strong neighbourhood and commercial development in all areas it passes through downtown.

    Cannot do that without taking roadway and making it median and sidewalk.

    What we will have is a busy 4 lane street with obstructed bike lanes and only a marginal improvement for the area surrounding as opposed to the considerable improvements taken with the farsighted original plan.

    Of course, it would be longer before anything happened if the original plan were kept. It’s still a better plan if slower. Did pedestrians take the long view just to get hijacked? Maybe.

  52. Yes according to the link above that is what happened. Pedestrians and neighbourhood were placed equal or below cycling in what was originally a pedestrian focussed project.

    At that late stage the median was dropped but was it so late that Alternative 1 the current plan was the objective?

    The report concludes with widening Jarvis with the removal of the center lane and a widening of sidewalks. Widen could be taken to mean only the street/car area but here it means reducing street pavement in favour of sidewalk pavement.

  53. The idea of “complete street” should NOT be equated to dedicated bike lane on every major street. The latter may be a noble goal, but highly unrealistic in Toronto. Bike lanes on Jarvis is an mistake from cyclist groups because too much political capital is spent on too little actual benefit (the lane is too short, disconnected, and too close to Sherbourne). As Sean pointed out, Church is a much better route for another bike lane. The win on Jarvis unfortunately may mean bike lane on Church a political no-go-zone (it is like kindergarten logic, but unfortunately this is often how things works: you “cyclist” have gotten what you wanted on Jarvis, so I “driver” gets keep mine on Church). I think groups like Bike Union should target energy and political capital on more realistic goals (improve Sherbourne pavement, Adelaide/Richmond/Church when opportunity present itself) and more significant goals (Bloor of course, and maybe even Yonge?), instead of picking every possible fight.

    I am a bike-commuter should ride down Sherbourne almost every weekday and would love to see improvement in cycling infrastructure. That said, I think the best result should be achieved through a carefully planned and well-connected network, instead of adding little stretches of disconnected lanes here and there.

  54. There is *no data* whatsoever on whether a bike lane on Jarvis is a good thing or not. We do have some data showing that the longer we go without *testing* bike lanes, the larger the potential opportunity cost. Let’s try it at least and if it’s proven to be a bad idea at least we’ll have a reason to do without them instead of just guessing and arguing about the situation.

    Mark Cidade (Mayoral Candidate)

  55. Wow, were they really considering a median as part of the Jarvis redevelopment project? What a waste of space… I cross the University median a few times a week and find it a wasteland of cracked concrete, sickly plants, and useless benches, abandoned by people and surrounded by speeding traffic. If that is ‘beautification’, it’s beautification in the grandest City Beautiful sense, attractive on a postcard and useless in person.

  56. Amazing, this.

    Yvonne’s posts move in relation to others…..

    How did you do that Yvonne? No one else appeared to have any technical problems. John you have any issues?

    I mean, look at the way it stands. Me and some other posters are critical and have our opinions, including mine that Rossi would wipe the floor with you. Everyone knows it was never an invite from Rossi, That never happened. He can’t cancel what he never initially agreed to. Just more spin and rain I guess.

  57. Yvonne

    How about the issues raised by Rick, Me, Yu, etc? You know not all cyclists are far-left helmetless hip/pies/sters. Most are not, but that is how we get represented, wholly, by a small group. One fact includes the fact that I don’t care for your presentation of cyclists and think that in debate Rossi would win hands down.

    Especially if he examined the situation as it is above without necessarily repainting it to suit your special interest.

    Rossi never agreed and then canceled. I do not support his candidacy but I’m not willing to misrepresent because of it.

    Rossi has consistently mentioned the process by which Jarvis got Bike Lanes. He goes further to claim he will prevent and get rid of others sure. But on Jarvis he clearly takes issue with the process.

    According to what we read here, mostly the documents on, his complaint and other here are valid. Your claims otherwise do not appear as substantiated or any less contrived.

    Nothing to say on the process?

  58. @Antony, the median function is a strong traffic calming measure in several ways as well as visually pleasing comparatively, looking across two 2 lane sections divided by what should be a green space.

    Although looking good is important it also reduces dramatically turns across traffic for everybody. This seeming inconvenience does wonders for traffic calming & reduction and actually inconveniences none that know where they are going and how to get there. The rest of you get a map it is dangerous to try and find things in your car.

    @Mark, any chance you have a position on Sherbourne? The timing, odds or otherwise of getting it fixed especially the bike lanes? It is as bad as riding down Parliament except worse! Are you an east side candidate?

  59. Rossi is considered a skilled debater. He seems to have chickened out on facing Ms Bambrick, which is disappointing for a candidate. What if Rae had been on the show instead of Bambrick? Would he have flat out cancelled or taken up the challenge? Is he going to back down when he’s asked to talk about the Transit City with someone who has a great deal of knowledge on the subject? Not a good precedent for someone who wants to be mayor….

    Mr or Mrs Hello has decided that this is a debate about the word OR and not the word AND.

    What I mean by that is he/she is pitting bikes against walkers when they need each other in this debate. Jarvis should be about AND, as in bike lanes AND a good pedestrian realm. Bike lanes help calm traffic and give that buffer to the cars.

    As for the process, it was open and transparent as any I’ve been to. As someone who attended the meetings, I was happy with pedestrian only improvements, but I’m not worried about the bike lanes. All the hype Rossi has put on the poor process is just that: hype. He’s being a divider and trying to undermine the city staff.

    A median would have been nice but can act as a separation between two sides of the street. Jarvis is really wide enough to consider a median (in my mind). The end result is pretty good for everyone (except for the drivers, who, it should be mentioned, have numerous other options for speed if they need it; cyclist have very few safe routes in the downtown).

  60. Thanks for all of this – and I’m glad there’s a clear divergence of opinion about the merits of bike lanes on Jarvis, the process, and the politricks.
    To correct Pat M on Feb. 22, I was passing out some flyers at one EA meeting – but if you read them they were NOT supportive of the Jarvis lanes, but instead suggested that maybe wide curb lanes were better and hhow curious it was that Mr. Rae and the CU were all in favour of a Good EA and bike lanes when Jarvis has a parallel bike lane on Sherbourne that desperately needs repaving, but Bloor in Yorkville is being messed up for two to three years, was the # 1 spot for an east-west bike lane 18 years ago, and it is now being rebuilt too narrow for easy bike lanes and they (e.g Mr. Rae and 31 others at City Hall were OK with not having a good EA, lowballing this $25M and multi-year mess into a routine A+ category though the tipping point to a B category is $2.2M. Hmmm – how did that occur?
    So I am not part of the Jarvis push, have had some pushback from Yvonne and others for not having the solidarity for agreeing with their pushes, and think that we do need changes for traffic calming the street, and some transit too, to make it a more Complete Street – something that is an express bus from say Eglinton – to provide an option.
    I go on too long generally and while there are more dtls, e-nough. Some Bloor/Danforth bikelane details-

  61. Bike lanes in Toronto are unsafe. A friend of mine was hit by a car while riding in the one on Dundas. There is no physical curb or barrier between bike and car lanes, so careless drivers can easily run down cyclists. We need bike lanes like the ones in Copenhagen, not just cheap painted lines.

    That’s what’s really wrong with bike lanes on Jarvis, Mr Rossi. They need to be better designed for cyclists’ safety.

  62. My posts make no sense due to Spacing editing. Do a better job or leave Yvonne’s bad behaviour in place.

  63. @Hello

    As per my post – there was an issue with my initial reply-post not appearing. Not sure what happened there, but I guess one of the editors just corrected the error.

    I wonder if we might meet for coffee sometime to discuss the issue in person? I’m always interested to hear differing opinions and it’s generally easier to have a face to face conversation than trying to deal with these things online.

    email me anytime if you’d to catch up about this issue or other cycling related stuff – yvonne at

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