Jarvis Collegiate sits at the corner of Jarvis and Wellesley Streets, at the crux of two crucial bike lanes on Jarvis and Sherbourne. The obvious spatial significance made it a natural place for to congregate and organize. The Toronto Cyclists Union (TCU) was there on Monday to brainstorm ways to save the Jarvis lane, which the city voted to remove last summer without public consultation.
Being a cyclist that makes his home in Canada’s busiest metropolis isn’t easy. Aside from having to deal with exhaust fumes and inspired curse words from out-of-town motorists who invade my neighbourhood during what seems to be a never-ending rush hour, there is a lack of dedicated space in which I can safely commute. Enter Dave Meslin. A dedicated community organizer since the 1990s, his most recent contribution involves mobilizing the TCU to work toward the salvation of the much-needed Jarvis artery. He works the Jarvis Collegiate classroom with a seasoned vibe, mostly serving as a facilitator. His first order of business was to offer chocolate chip cookies to everyone.
This meeting isn’t just about Jarvis, but what it represents to city cyclists. Promised improvements by our often-inept city council have not only failed to materialize, but local politicians have actually managed to oversee a stunning recent increase in vehicular, pedestrian, and cycling traffic downtown without agreeing to prioritize a coherent plan to deal with any of it. Bicycle lane additions and David Miller’s sorely-needed Transit City TTC plan (Councillor Adam Vaughan and others have identified it as much more than that – “it is a social plan”) have been put on the back burner by Rob Ford, a mayor who could stand to take a bike lane to the local grocery store instead of driving. Understandably, his questionable strategies are facing opposition, as noted by this week’s budget victory.
Here is a quick wrap-up of the proceedings:
- It was made public that there will be a Council chamber meeting on Feb 20th at City Hall (from 6:30pm-8pm) in order to discuss the Jarvis Cultural Corridor that was announced by councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam’s office.
- There will be a group ride on the one-year anniversary of the Jarvis bike lanes vote (June 23rd, 2012). This date is subject to change.
- One female attendee expressed being uncomfortable with using the Sherbourne Street bike lane due to safety issues (separated lane or not).
- Union posters have been deemed acceptable by Ryerson University.
- There was a proposal to create a “JET” (Jarvis Emergency Taskforce) to “Occupy” Jarvis Street in the event of short-notice removal of bike lanes. Strategies were discussed.
A cost of $250,000 to remove the bike lane, plus whatever the cost of the environmental assessment would be, was confirmed as passed down from council documents. After consultation with a lawyer, the removal was deemed a “class C” due to significant environmental impact. This means that total costs for removal could be close to $500,000.
Check the dandyhorse blog on January 26 for the next post about the Toronto Cyclists Union. You can also get involved here. Memberships to the TCU start at $30, but are not necessary to attend meetings and participate.