Councillor Josh Matlow

680 News: Council votes to remove Jarvis, Pharmacy, Birchmount bike lanes

TORONTO, Ont. – City Hall has voted 28-9 to remove the bike lanes from Jarvis Street, Pharmacy Avenue and Birchmount Road.

Jarvis will return to five lanes of traffic in 2012 and separated bike lanes will be installed on several downtown streets including Sherbourne, Wellesley and Richmond.

Public works committee chair Denzil Minnan-Wong is calling this a victory for the car and the bike.

“One of the core principles I believe in is not putting bike lanes on streets that are major north-south quarters that we use to get in and out of the city.” Minnan-Wong said.

Councillor Karen Stintz said that Jarvis Street was never meant for cyclist and that this decision was about fighting gridlock.

“It is not a four minute delay, it is not a five minute delay, it is the different of me being home at 6 o’clock to have dinner with my kids.” Stintz said during the two day debate.

Councillor Josh Matlow was one of the nine city councillors to vote against decision.

“There is no heads up to the public that this was going to be discussed and I argue that whether one believes Jarvis should have bike lanes or not you’ve got to go through a genuine process and I couldn’t support it.” Matlow said.

Councillor Mike Layton was fighting on behalf of the cyclist and told 680News the decision worries him.

“Yes we’re going to make hopefully some good moves around separated lanes but even then we’re only enterting the planning phase. The lesson of the day today is that if you’re a cyclist it’s going to be less safe on the street.” Layton said.

Speaking on behalf of the cyclists, Andrea said this vote has only bought them time to fight.

“It’s been delayed for a year and that gives us a year to organize around it and get even better data and show that the street really is working.” Andrea told 680News.

The two day heated debate fueled some harsh words among city councillors.

At one point, the speaker threatened to remove pro-bike lane Councillor Glenn de Baeremaeker for a remark he made about cyclist safety.

“If anyone in this audience is killed or maimed in a car accident after we take out these bike lanes, I do hope our mayor and members of council will send flowers to their funeral,” De Baeremaeker said.

Councillor Paula Fletcher pleaded with her peers, saying painting over the bike lanes on Jarvis would put cyclists at risk.

“It’s actually our responsibility here to ensure that cyclists are safe on our streets,” Fletcher said.

Since they were added in 2010, daily bike traffic on Jarvis has grown from 300 to 900.

It will cost the city over $400,000 to remove the lanes on all three streets.


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