Toronto Cyclists Protest the Jarvis Bike Lane Removal – Day 2

Story and photos by Kyuwon Kim, November 13, 2012

When the paint-removal-and-buffing trucks arrived on Jarvis Street in Toronto this morning, workers were greeted by protestors for the second consecutive day.

Toronto cyclists and concerned citizens came together yesterday (November 12) to voice their opposition to the removal of the Jarvis bike lane and workers were forced to abort the mission. Today, when more protesters returned for a peaceful “sit-in” today – police arrested Dr. Tomislav Svoboda.

Wayne Scott, an avid Toronto cyclist and active transportation activist for over 25 years, questions City council’s decision-making process. “City council avoided public consultation,” said Scott. Scott said he worries that the safety of Torontonians is being compromised because of personal partisanship. He explained that once the bike lanes are removed, Jarvis Street will become a road with five lanes, each lane being “3-metres wide -- making it impossible for drivers to pass cyclists safely.”

Chris Drew came to show his opposition to the bike lane removal because he feels their removal will compromise the safety of cyclists, pedestrians and drivers. “It’s an issue of wasting more than $250, 000 of tax payers’ money,” he said.

Some protestors were present because they are frustrated with the lack of political leadership on climate change. Adam Clare viewed the removal of Jarvis bike lane as yet another example of lack of action on climate change. “The recent days have seen above-average temperatures,” Clare said, as he marched on the disappearing Jarvis bike lane, “We keep talking about how we strive to be a world-class city, yet all the other cities are installing bike lanes while we are removing them.”

Scott added that one of his motivations for protesting is future generations: “I want my granddaughter to have a better future than Ford imagines.”

Critics of the protest bring attention to the fact that City of Toronto is removing Jarvis bike lanes, but they are also busy constructing a separated bike lane on Sherbourne Street, a street that runs parallel to Jarvis Street. But, as one protestor explained as she marched along with her bike, that’s not how it works in city building: “One bike lane doesn’t replace another… we need a connected network of bike lanes.”

The most notable activist of the day, Tomislav Svoboda, a medical doctor at St. Michael’s Hospital, handed out copies of his email to city councilors. An excerpt from the email reads:

Today I am going to sit on the Jarvis St. bike lane until either their removal stops or I am arrested. I am protesting in support of the Jarvis Emergency Taskforce, who are calling for a moratorium on the removal of the Jarvis bike lanes until a) the Sherbourne bike lane is completed between Bloor and Queen b) a full and public assessment of the health, safety and environmental impacts of removing the lanes has been conducted; and c) public consultations on the issue have been held.

I couldn’t help but see the irony in the scene: it was three policemen on bikes that arrested Svoboda. Police gave Svoboda many opportunities to stop his sit-in and invited him to drink his coffee on the sidewalk rather than risk arrest. “I don’t want you to go that route, you are a reasonable person,” one police officer said to Svoboda. But Svoboda would not be coerced; he replied that he was, in fact, a reasonable person, a reasonable person who demands public consultation on the issue of a bike lane removal. Svoboda continued to block the road crew’s truck. Soon after 11 a.m. police arrested Svoboda.

The bike lanes have not yet been completely removed. dandyhorse will do our best to keep you up to date on news as it develops, via our Facebook and Twitter accounts and on the dandyBLOG. dandyhorse would also like to thank the protesters for standing up (er, sitting-in) for what is right.

Bike lanes were installed on Jarvis only two years ago, in 2010, under the leadership of former mayor David Miller.

Related on the dandyBLOG:
Other cities love bike lanes
Bike Spotting on Jarvis Take Two – Ride for Jarvis June 13

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