Toronto Cyclists Union Calls For An Environmental Assessment Before Jarvis Bicycle Lanes Are Eliminated

Update: see previous posts – January 17, 2012 Toronto Traffic Fatalities Declining in 2011,  January 12, 2012 Canada’s Bicycle Helmet Laws – Most Provinces and All Territories Don’t Have Legislation in Place,  January 10, 2012 Riding Bicycles on Sidewalks in Toronto – Police Seldom Enforce By-Laws, January 6, 2011 City of Toronto Is Considering Licensing Cyclists, January 4, 2011 Toronto Takes Advantage of Rush Hour Gridlock By Tripling Parking Fine$, October 24, 2011 Toronto in Process of Updating and Harmonizing Cyclist Bylaws & Considers Licensing Cyclists, September 28, 2011 Results of Sept.27/11 Bicycle/Pedestrian Blitz on Danforth Ave/Broadview Ave, September 16, 2011 Casual cyclists feel much safer on sidewalks, rather then the Road, September 7, 2011 Opening of Doors of Motor Vehicles,  September 5, 2011 Bike Trails Through Two Hydro Corridors and Leaside Rail Corridor, August 11, 2011 Bicycle Safety Called for by Ontario Medical Association, August 9, 2011 Police/T.T.C Target Drivers/Pedestrians/Cyclists at T.T.C Stops from Aug.8 – 14, 2011, August 5, 2011 Results of Bicycle/Pedestrian Blitz on August 3 & 4, 2011, August 2, 2011 – Bicycle/Driver/Pedestrian Blitz on Danforth Ave from Victoria Park to Broadview Ave on August 3 & 4/11, July 30, 2011 Pedestrian Injured by Cyclist Calls for Regulated Cycling in Toronto, July 28, 2011 Bicycle Helmets Lead to Fewer Head Injuries for Cyclist’s Who Wear Them, July 17, 2011 Cyclists Ignore the Signs at Kew Gardens, July 13, 2011 Toronto Bicycle Lanes Eliminated, July 9, 2011 Cyclists Continue Riding the Wrong Way on a One-Way Street (Huron Street), July 8, 2011 Toronto Police to Ticket Cyclists and Motor Vehicles Ignoring Cyclist’s Space, July 7, 2011 Careless Driving Causing Death?, May 4, 2011 Police Charge Parent of Young Cyclist Not Wearing His Bicycle Helmet, May 2, 2011 Cyclist on Powered-Assisted Bicycle Charged with Not Wearing a Helmet and Impaired Driving, March 9, 2011 Cyclist Launches 20 Million Lawsuit against Cycling Club & Association, January 27, 2011 Time to Update the Cycling Laws in Toronto & Ontario?, January 8, 2011 Toronto is Ready to Invest in the Safety of Cyclists,December 22, 2010   Toronto’s First Count of Downtown Cyclists (Sept. 2010) , November 8, 2010 Week Long Pedestrian Safety Campaign/Blitz, October 10, 2010 Bike Boxes , September 16, 2010 Private Member’s Bill requires a minimum of one metre paved shoulder be added whenever designated provincial highways are repaved to reduce accidents/fatalities , August 26, 2010 Police Lay 400 Charges Against Cyclists/Pedestrians , May 19, 2010 Motorists Must Stay 3,4 or 5 Feet Away from Bicyclists , March 29, 2010 Toronto’s Zero-Tolerance Bicycle Blitz , November 16, 2009 Most Dangerous Intersections for Pedestrians – Toronto (2008) , October 12, 2009 Idaho Stop Law , September 7, 2009 Toronto Police Bicycle Safety Blitz , March 21, 2009,  Bicycle Accidents Toronto, Reported in 2008 , December 20, 2008 City of Toronto Considering Installing “Rumble Strips”

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Cyclists know that it is illegal to ride their bicycles on the sidewalk and want safe bikes lanes to ride in on major street in Toronto. If you ride on the sidewalk, you risk being pulled over and ticketed by Toronto police.

Jarvis Street Bike Lanes
In May 2009 council approved the installation of bicycle lanes on Jarvis Street, between Queen Street East and Charles Street East. The bicycle lanes, which necessitated the removal of the centre reversible traffic lane, were installed in July 2010.

These bicycle lanes have been extraordinarily successful and have, in tandem with the launching of the BIXI program increased bicycle use on Jarvis Street by three times. They have also improved safety.

In 2011 Councillor John Parker, moved before the Public Works Committee to remove the bike lanes. The Committee voted 4-2 to remove the Jarvis bike lanes. This was followed by a decision by council to eliminate the bike lanes and add a fifth reversible lane in mid-July 2011(the Project).
The decision reads as follows:
City Council rescind its decision related to the bicycle lanes on Jarvis Street, and co-ordinate implementation of the proposed separation of bike lanes on Sherbourne Street from Bloor Street to Lake Shore Boulevard as an alternative, and staff be directed to take all steps required to revert Jarvis Street to its preexisting operation such that implementation can be achieved as soon as possible,
with all work to be completed on Sherbourne Street and Jarvis Street in 2012.

With Mayor Rob Ford’s transportation policy unravelling, a cycling advocacy group is restarting the battle to save the Jarvis St. bike lanes.

The Toronto Cyclists Union on Tuesday released a letter from law firm Iler Campbell arguing the city must do an environmental assessment before removing the lanes.

Nine months ago city council voted to paint over the lines and reintroduce a switchable centre vehicle lane. Reverting to the street’s pre-2010 form, at a cost of $250,000 to $270,000, will be done after a separated bike lane is built on nearby Sherbourne St., later this year.

 Andrea Garcia, the cyclists union’s advocacy director, acknowledged her timing is influenced by Ford’s weakened grip on council, which recently voted to revive the Transit City light rail plan he scrapped.

“We’d be foolish not to admit there has been a shift at city council that could benefit us in the long run,” Garcia said at a news conference, standing in front of several helmeted Jarvis cyclists.

The Iler Campbell letter says the provincial Municipal Class Environmental Assessment requires at least a “Schedule B” environmental review for “some adverse environmental effects.” But the firm also argues the removal meets criteria for a much more involved “Series C” review of projects that could have “significant environmental effects” — even though no such review was required to install the lanes.

Lawyer Laura Bowman said that, if the city doesn’t agree within 10 days, her firm will press the province’s environment ministry to order a review.

Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong, the public works chair, said city staff told him they don’t believe an environmental review is necessary, but will look at the Iler Campbell letter and report back to him.

Sherbourne, a few blocks from busy Jarvis, is a better, safer alternative that will be built this year, he said. Minnan-Wong last year became a member of the cyclists union but said, with a laugh, he will likely not renew his membership.

“There are individuals that have political axes to grind and that are looking to turn back the clock,” he said.

150 John Street, 7th Floor, Toronto, Ontario – the office of Iler Campbell, the legal firm representing the 2100 member Toronto Cyclists’ Union has released a legal opinion on City Council’s decision to remove the bicycle lanes on Jarvis St. in Toronto and installing bicycle lanes on Sherbourne St. in Toronto, suggesting an environmental assessment is in order.

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