Jarvis bike lanes: after Labour Day

Like many other bicycle commuters in Toronto, I’m waiting for Rocco Rossi to admit he was wrong about the new bike lane configuration on Jarvis Street.

Rossi took the populist position that removing the reversible fifth lane on Jarvis over the summer would cause traffic on the street to grind to a halt, a situation he famously (and incorrectly) referred to as GRIDLOCK! When the street was repainted and bike lanes were installed, the flow of cars on the downtown street wasn’t impeded at all. Rossi then proclaimed that following the Labour Day weekend, when students returned from summer holidays, we would surely see gridlock.

It hasn’t happened. In fact, as predicted by people who actually study this stuff, the removal of street parking and the elimination of the bottleneck at either end of the fifth lane has likely improved traffic on Jarvis. We don’t know for sure, studies have yet to be done.

Rossi, still proclaiming himself the cycling candidate for some reason, has been silent about the issue. Seems to me the mature thing to do would be for Rossi to admit he was wrong about bicycles causing GRIDLOCK (an absurd position) and propose ways we can learn from the project. Instead, Rossi is ignoring facts completely, a situation apparent to many cyclists long ago.

This could be an opportunity for the city to study the actual effects of shared street spaces on traffic and safety, for example. Rossi wants to fund a study on his proposal of building a tunnel for the hugely unpopular Spadina Expressway, but in this case, Rossi’s campaign of sound bites panders for more votes, claiming his first act as mayor will be to tear out the bike lanes and restore Jarvis’ fifth lane. He’s said he’ll do a lot of things as his first act as mayor, actually.

So here’s my question for Rossi (and other candidates against the Jarvis lanes): if studies and statistics prove that the removal of the reversible fifth lane and installation of bicycle lanes on Jarvis resulted in an improvement in overall traffic flow, for the meagre cost of $65,000, isn’t it a no-brainer?

About Greg Burrell

Greg is an accountant, cyclist and political observer living in Toronto, Canada with too many cats.
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