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Steve Fisher sits in front of a truck contracted by the city to take out the Jarvis bike lanes.
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Chris Drew is seen blocking the truck just south of Carlton.
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A man calling himself "Rob Ford" lies in front of the truck. He stood up when asked by police.
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Wayne Scott sits on his bike in front of the truck.
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Cycling advocates literally put their asses on the line to stop the removal of the Jarvis bike lanes Monday, and managed to win a temporary reprieve for the controversial bikeways.
As a city-contracted crew began scrubbing out the southbound lane using a truck-mounted water blaster shortly before 1 pm, a single protestor sat down in its path. The truck moved around him and continued its work, only to be blocked by another man, then another.
The crew was halted three separate times by a half-dozen activists, before finally abandoning the project at around 3 pm. Police told reporters the work would resume at 10 am Tuesday morning. A city spokesperson would not confirm that time, however. (Update: a spokesperson from the city planning office has now confirmed the 10 am start time).
No arrests were made.
Chris Drew was one of the protestors who confronted the truck for the third and final time, standing with his bike across its path just south of Carlton St.
After the crew sped away, Drew declared his mission accomplished.
"I'm happy that drivers on Jarvis and cyclists on Jarvis will have another day of safety," Drew said.
The 29-year-old, who runs a tech start-up and lives on Jarvis, said he wasn't sure if he'd be back in the morning to block the truck again.
"We'll see how I'm feeling," Drew said. "One person can only do so much. I think it's important for all cyclists and all drivers to speak out about this."
When the crew began to remove the southbound lane at Jarvis and Isabella Monday afternoon, there was little indication a protest was planned. There were no activists visible on the scene, and the truck was watched only by a handful of reporters.
But as it began slowly stripping the paint off the road at a speed of 60 metres an hour, a 33-year-old named Steven Fisher sat down in front of it, just north of Wellesley St. The freelance arts and culture writer said he was upset by the lack of public consultation that went into the city's decision to take out the bike lanes and reinstate a reversible fifth car lane.
"This community wasn't consulted. It was done against the [local] councillor's wishes," he said. "And I don't feel like city council has taken the safety of those who live and work on Jarvis into account."
Fisher was followed by researcher Michael Polanyi, veteran cycling activist Wayne Scott, Drew, and a man calling himself "Rob Ford," who lay on his back across the lane.
All but the latter man said they attended a civil disobedience workshop held by the Jarvis Emergency Task Force this past weekend. The group distributed flyers on Monday that said the protestors were Toronto residents who live and work near Jarvis and that removing the bike lanes "will put our own and other pedestrians and cyclists' lives at risk."
The group is urging those who oppose the removal of the lanes to contact Mayor Rob Ford and public works chair Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong to ask the work be suspended until the nearby Sherbourne separated bike lane is fully completed, more public consultations have been held, and the environmental and health impacts of installing the fifth car lane have been studied.
Minnan-Wong did not immediately return a request for comment for this story.
Despite vocal protests from the cycling community and the objection of local councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam, city council voted to remove the Jarvis bike lanes last July as part of Ford's campaign promise to end the so-called "war on the car." The mayor and other councillors argue that removing the fifth car lane worsened congestion on the street, which is a major north-south artery into the downtown core.
But cycling advocates say that the city's own data shows car travel times have increased by only three to five minutes during evening rush hour, the number of cyclists using the street has tripled, and that rates of accidents involving bikes, cars, and pedestrians have all decreased.
They also accuse the Ford administration of hypocrisy, because the mayor was elected on a promise to cut waste at City Hall. Removing the lanes and reinstating the fifth car lane will cost the city up to $300,000.
A last ditch effort to save the bikeways died on the council floor last month.
Activists were planning a "candlelight vigil" for the Jarvis lanes at 5:30 pm on Monday.