Angry Robot

Jarvis and the Bike Plan

A number of divisive transit issues have been in front of the council here in Toronto. The latest is the Jarvis redesign, in which the fifth lane is sacrificed in order to widen the sidewalks and install bike lanes. It passed after much controversy.

From my point of view, any new bike lanes are good, and I’ll take a walkable street ahead of a highway for Rosedale fatcats any day. However, I have some concerns here. There is already a bike lane the next major street east, on Sherbourne. That’s a big deal when you consider the downtown has only two(!) north-south bike lanes, Sherbourne and Beverly-St. George. (No, I’m not considering the Death By Cab shared lane on Bay a viable route.) The Jarvis lane doesn’t make much sense in the context of the city’s own bikeway network plan. We must then wonder if the Jarvis lane is an easy bone to throw to cyclists, in preparation for disappointments elsewhere. Indeed, word comes that the proposed Bloor-Danforth bike lane has been shunted off to an as-yet unspecified consultant, and “Mr. Heaps said … that if the study showed the lanes would hurt local businesses, he would not support them.”

The downtown portion of the bikeway network; dotted means not yet built. I’ve put in the Jarvis route in yellow.

That same article mentions a possible protected lane on University, which would be nice – but again, not part of the city’s own bikeway network plan. The bike plan is good, and it should be implemented. Lanes outside the network are great, but not if they take away political will to actually implement it, and especially not if they are in areas already reasonably well served by the network. I fear Jarvis may hit both these negatives.