The fight to save the Jarvis bike lanes is not over, according to Kristyn Wong-Tam.
The councillor for the ward which contains the disputed bikeways says that despite the failure of a last ditch legal gambit by Cycle Toronto, she and several of her colleagues are continuing "very active and fulsome discussions" to force a vote on the Jarvis issue at council next month.
"There are a number of councillors that are considering how to bring this issue to the floor of council in October. I have been included in those discussions," Wong-Tam said Tuesday. "I don't think there's a full decision on what is the next step. But... people are not ready to let this one go."
The campaign to preserve the Jarvis lanes was dealt a major blow this week when news broke that earlier this month the Ontario ministry of the environment rejected Cycle Toronto's legal application to have the province conduct an environmental assessment before the bike paths are removed.
The appeal for an assessment was the advocacy group's last best hope of stalling work to take out the lanes, which is slated to start once a separated cycle track on Sherbourne is completed this fall. In a statement released Monday Jared Kolb, director of campaigns for Cycle Toronto, said that only intervention from council could save the lanes now.
Wong-Tam would not reveal any details of strategies being considered or name which councillors she is working with, but did say that several council members who voted to scrap the Jarvis lanes last summer have since told her they regretted their decision.
"I've had a number of councillors who've said, I apologize, it was a mistake," she said. "That's the groundwork for the next step."
In July 2011, councillors voted 27 - 18 to take out the lanes, with strong backing from Mayor Rob Ford. But Wong-Tam believes that this things would be different a second time around.
Ford's grip on council has slipped drastically in the past year and since last summer's meeting, one councillor who voted against keeping the bike lanes, Josh Matlow, has said he voted in error. Another, Michelle Berardinetti, has reversed her position. Wong-Tam would need to flip just three more votes to overturn council's earlier decision.
A more difficult task would likely be getting the Jarvis issue on council's agenda. To walk a motion onto the council floor requires a two-thirds majority vote, and Wong-Tam would struggle to find that level of support.
Alternatively, there are a handful of bike-related items on council's October agenda to which Wong-Tam could attempt to attach a Jarvis motion, but it would likely be ruled out of order by speaker Frances Nunziata, a close Ford ally.
Wong-Tam opposes reverting Jarvis to its car-only set-up because she says her residents were never consulted on removing the bike lanes. She wants to see the street converted to a pedestrian- and bike-friendly cultural corridor.
Cycling activists cite city data showing collisions involving cars, cyclists, and pedestrians have all decreased since the lanes were installed in July 2010, and travel times for motorists have hardly been affected.
But while cycling advocates hold out hope for a last-minute reprieve, as far as public works chair Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong is concerned, the province's rejection of the assessment appeal means the issue is dead.
Minnan-Wong, who helped engineer to vote to scrap the Jarvis lanes last year, did not return a request for comment Tuesday, but in a statement emailed to media he praised the province's decision.
"The City can now move forward in its efforts to coordinate the removal of the bike lanes on Jarvis," the statement said.
Minnan-Wong argues that the nearby Sherbourne Cycle Track will provide a safe North-South route for riders, and that Jarvis is too heavily used by cars to accommodate bike lanes.