Josh Colle at a meeting of the TTC board, May 30, 2012.
To blame Josh Colle and Ana Bailao for the demise of the Jarvis bike lanes would be unfair.
They were, after all, only two of the 24 councillors who voted against keeping the lanes at Tuesday's council meeting, a decision that has outraged cyclists accusing the city of pedaling fast in the wrong direction when it comes to building bike infrastructure.
But the two centrist council members played a pivotal role in derailing Rob Ford's nonsensical transit plan and avoiding deeper cuts in the 2012 budget, and the cycling community had high hopes that they would ride to the rescue again.
Along with Councillor Michelle Berardinetti, who said in March via Twitter that the lanes should stay, the pair were seen as key swing votes when Jarvis was reopened this week.
But in the end all three voted to take out the lanes. Had the trio voted differently, the Jarvis bikeways could have been saved by a 22-21 vote.
So what were they thinking?
According to Colle, removing the bikeways to make room for the reversible fifth car lane on Jarvis and diverting cyclists to the new separated lanes on Sherbourne St. was the better option for all road users.
"Despite the kind of inside baseball that happens around here," Colle said in an interview at City Hall Thursday, "I just think it's actually a pretty balanced approach: one arterial that has an innovative way to move motorists better in and out of the area, and one neighbouring one that helps to move cyclists better and more safely.
"I think the reversible lane is actually a pretty innovative thing."
Colle also voted against the bike lanes when the issue first came to council last July. While new information has come forward since then - including studies that showed rates of accidents of all kinds are down on Jarvis despite a threefold increase in cyclists - none of it was enough to sway him.
In the invervening 15 months it's also been revealed that reinstalling the fifth car lane will cost the city at least $280,000.
Colle said that that price tag was "the toughest issue to digest" but in the end didn't deter him.
Public works chair Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong acknowledged this week that he had to "work the vote" behind the scenes to ensure he had enough support to block efforts to save the Jarvis lanes. But Colle says neither Minnan-Wong nor the mayor's office pressured him into voting to scrap the bikeways.
"Denzil called me a couple of weeks before the vote to see where I was, and at that time I told him I was probably leaning towards the same way I voted before," Colle said. "I was lobbied quite heavily by the other side... by other councillors and people outside of City Hall."
Neither Berardinetti nor Bailao returned a request for comment for this story, but in a letter posted on her website Bailao explains her reasoning. Although she voted to keep the lanes last summer, this time around she says she was convinced that the separated lane on Sherbourne is a "strong alternative" to lanes on Jarvis.
"Sherbourne Street is nearly twice as long, and ...has more than twice the cycling connections of Jarvis," she writes. "Most importantly, it is significantly safer with lower traffic volume and a curb completely separating cyclists from other vehicles."
She also argues that the Jarvis bike lanes "were implemented without consultation, and were installed outside the recommendations of the Environmental Assessment undertaken to improve the public realm on Jarvis."
Cycling advocates have argued that while the environmental assessment completed in 2010 didn't initially recommend bike lanes, it did recommend removing the fifth centre lane, advice which is now being ignored.
According to the Jarvis Street Streetscape Improvement Study, the bikeways were added to the design because "stakeholder and public consultation indicated that the needs of the community would be better served by providing bicycle lanes on Jarvis Street."