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Ride for Jarvis

I attended the Ride for Jarvis this week, organized by the Toronto Bike Union.  I enjoyed taking part, and I believe the cause is worthy.  We cyclists are not even asking for more, we’re just asking not to lose what we have.  We don’t want Toronto to be taking steps backwards.

We should be getting more, but that isn’t even the point right now.  Claiming we need more space for cars, the bike lanes are being removed in favour of returning the reversible lane.  However, studies have shown that adding more roads or more lanes just means more cars fill that space (npr.org article which references a UToronto study).  Bike lanes might affect traffic, but you know what contributes even more to gridlock?  More cars.

The counterargument is that when the two cars at an intersection want to turn left and right, nobody can get through.  The fifth lane helped the busier direction by ensuring always at least one lane would flow.  Possible remedies: restrict left turns, or even right turns.  It would be nice if Toronto had more one-way streets, because then that happens automatically.  Anyway, the only reason this is even an issue is because Jarvis used to have that feature.  Driving on Yonge, or Queen, or College, you can often find the same problem.  Yes, it’s a nuisance, but that’s what driving downtown is like.

And for those who say Jarvis is “intended to” be a quick route downtown for those midtowners, via Mt. Pleasant, I say that the bigger traffic problems are on Mt. Pleasant itself.  The northbound afternoon rush is backed up from St. Clair all the way down to Roxborough (approx 1.7 km, with only one traffic light in that span).

I say “intended to” with quotation marks, because not only is that a debatable issue, but it seems ridiculous that roads are created for one specific purpose.  Shouldn’t they be multipurpose?  Connecting people and places, being an avenue for cars, streetcars, bikes and buses, being part of a neighbourhood or community or facilitating commerce, or just plain being beautiful (rather than barren).

This is an issue of fairness (we just want to share the road), and safety (bike lanes make streets safer for cyclists).  It just seems ridiculous to rescind what’s already been provided, at large cost in a year when the mayor is projecting a large shortfall (which is being used as a political tactic to push through right-wind ideology)

I wonder if it would be effective to organize similar events for lanes on Birchmount and Pharmacy.

More links:

Cycling as a women’s issue – Torontoist article

Toronto Bike Union – they organized the event

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