1 of 9
2 of 9
3 of 9
4 of 9
5 of 9
6 of 9
7 of 9
8 of 9
9 of 9
Hundreds of cyclists clogged the downtown east end yesterday evening to protest the city's plans to remove beloved bike lanes on Jarvis.
As rush hour was winding down a massive crowd of cyclists moved at a leisurely pace through Jarvis, Wellesley, Church, and Bloor streets, tying up intersections for long stretches of time and drawing angry honks from disgruntled motorists. They were quickly drowned out by a chorus of bike bells.
Last week city council voted to remove the Jarvis bike lanes, which were only installed in 2010 and have tripled cycling traffic on the busy north-south street. City staff says the lanes have had minimal effect on car traffic.
"This issue really bothers me, what the current city government is doing to Jarvis," said Alexander, one of the bikers who endured soaring temperatures to take part in the ride. "Not only in terms of the way that it affects cyclists, but also the fact that it treats neighbourhoods as a highway, a little traffic pipe right through the city. To see how council reacted has made me really cynical."
"I think there needs to be more consideration for building communities that are safe for all people, and including things beyond our own self-interested motives," said Pamela, another rider.
The huge turnout was evidence of how incensed the city's cyclists are about Mayor Rob Ford's decision to pull out the Jarvis lanes, but at this point it would take a stunning reversal from City Hall to save them. The lanes are scheduled to be removed sometime next year in coordination with the construction of separated bike lanes on nearby Sherbourne Street. Public works chair Denzil Minnan-Wong says Sherbourne is better suited for bike lanes because fewer cars use it.
"There are people who say we shouldn't be here, that we're fighting the wrong fight," said Dave Meslin, a prominent cycling activist who had been working with the Ford administration until the Jarvis gambit provoked a nasty falling-out. "But it's about whether we believe in democracy. It's about whether or not we're going to stand up for our streets and our safety."