Transportation

8 Hours to Approve Jarvis Lane Reductions?

By Ben Bull
Published May 26, 2009

So Toronto City Council - so often Hamilton's shining light for forward thinking-municipal governance - managed to approve the reduction of Jarvis street to two lanes each-way, with the addition of a painted north-south bike route and sidewalk widening. Woo Hoo.

Excuse my lack of enthusiasm, but this modest $100,000 measure took eight whole hours to debate. Eight hours! I attended the morning session yesterday and I have to say that the ignorance on display was astounding.

Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong had the audacity to suggest that Jarvis cyclists could use the Don Valley Trail instead of Jarvis. "There are lots of other options for cyclists," he suggested.

The Don Valley Trail, for those of you familiar with downtown Toronto, is accessible between Lakeshore and Pottery Road by two steep flights of steps. It runs about a 1.5 kilometers to the east of Jarvis. It is not a viable alternative.

Mayor David Miller, in his opening remarks, mentioned that he had just paid a visit to Seoul, Korea. He explained that the local council had just closed a downtown expressway as part of their ongoing efforts to expand their bike lane network.

"We are not proposing anything anywhere near as courageous as that," he noted.

Still, it took Toronto City Council all day to approve the measure.

For the first time since I moved to T.O from Hamilton three years ago, I have the feeling that my old hometown might actually be able to lead the way on sustainable development matters such as this. One thing is clear - Hamilton should stop looking to the east for its inspiration.

Ben Bull lives in downtown Toronto. He's been working on a book of short stories for about 10 years now and hopes to be finished tomorrow. He also has a movie blog.

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By Mike (registered) | Posted May 26, 2009 at 10:24:21

Homer Simpson described this situation best ... "sure it will save a few lives, but millions will be LATE!!!"

I have lived 15 years in TO (various neighborhoods including that one) and 15 years in Hamilton. A wise decision by Toronto Council in my opinion. It took a while because of almost murderous opposition to ... a quality of life improvement? Are you guys reading some of that? "Vow revenge?" etc. What on earth is going on?

While numerous other cities beautify their cities and tackle these tough issues head on, even ones that get snow, a tiny step in the right direction has Toronto brewing into a (verbal at least) civil war? Such a false dichotomy (convert one lane = what you're ripping out the 401 and banning cars!!!oneeleven!), and poor reporting leaving out so much relevant data (deliberately inflammatory instead of intelligent and constructive as others noticed too).

I looked at the PDF cross section for Jarvis (how beautiful would it be if Main or King ever looked like their proposed layout). Interesting how similar to Main Street the cross section of Jarvis looks.

Now for the star trek fans ... tell me, how many lanes, er, lights do you see?

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By jason (registered) | Posted May 26, 2009 at 10:46:37

yea, I've been following this story and it's quite stunning. The media has been horrible and city council has been worse.

The street will still have 2 dedicated car lanes in both directions! It's amazing that a multi-directional centre lane would cause such an uproar in a city the size of Toronto.

No wonder the TTC has regressed over the past 40 years and the waterfront looks like crap. Hamilton city council looks downright orderly when compared to this mess.

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By Mike (registered) | Posted May 26, 2009 at 10:59:43

It is eerily similar to the Main/King issue isn't it? Two lanes remaining in either direction simply is not good enough. They will have to drive a bit slower and brake if cars are turning. The fight is to keep Jarvis a highway throughfare just like Main and King are currently. Life forms outside of metal boxes be damned. Just for a thought experiment though I would love to see the discourse if there was a serious proposal to make all inner city streets shared shares except for carefully chosen arterials. Then see how fast 4 lanes becomes good enough :)

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By Mike (registered) | Posted May 26, 2009 at 11:09:53

Jason ... I have been appreciating Hamilton more lately, after getting a bit concerned about how the 21st century would shape here, while other cities continue to try and incite jealousy in me (ahem Portland and Amsterdam :) After one year of biking full time I have realized that with rare exceptions I am having great success sharing roads safely with motorists in Hamilton and Burlington when getting around by road bike. It's actually a pretty polite city overall. The closer to Oakville/Mississauga I get the scarier it gets.

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By jason (registered) | Posted May 26, 2009 at 11:18:35

yea, I haven't had any problems biking in Hamilton either. I've heard Burlington gets scarier, but I wouldn't know firsthand.

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By Mike (registered) | Posted May 26, 2009 at 11:37:39

Yeah it does get scarier because in Burlington the roads widen and traffic speeds up. But motorists in Burlington are polite as well so the sharing works if you obey cycling best practices. I suppose as you approach TO suburbs the roads widen and traffic speeds up, but politeness starts diminishing, so then it gets really scary and unsafe. I wonder what a graph of this data would look like :)

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By Quelar (anonymous) | Posted May 26, 2009 at 13:32:13

The 'anti-progress' people (coloquially known as conservatives) hate everything miller has been doing, and are simply angry that they couldn't get anyone better than Jane Pitfield to fight in the last election (she got smoked, fyi). Not only should Jarvis have a bike lane added, but they should be looking at this for virtually all downtown streets. Create 2 or 3 main car arteries, and make it inconvenient to drive through downtown for those trying to get back to their mississuaga homes. Transit, and people powered transportation are the way of the future, NOT cars.

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By arienc (registered) | Posted May 26, 2009 at 14:28:06

BTW...I was at the recent Burlington cycling committee open house, and there's talk about a series of new bikeways circling the city, including a Netherlands-style dedicated lane across Dundas, bike lanes on Burloak, widening of the north-end hydro corridor multi-use path between Dundas/Appleby and Brant/North Service, and the south end hydro corridor path between Sherwood Forest Park and Downtown. The work is to be done in conjunction with roads projects, so it will be put together piecemeal over the next 12-20 years We'll see.

The city does have a pretty good network of bike lanes, although many of the on-road lanes are incomplete, end for no apparant reason, and don't connect with GO. The main obstacle there is the 403/QEW...none of the roads which cross or interchange with the highways are included in the cycling network, and that's the area with the worst traffic and volume of trucks. Fix that, and Burlington would be overall be one of the most pleasant places to cycle in Ontario.

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By Michelle Martin (registered) - website | Posted May 26, 2009 at 17:19:43

"Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong had the audacity to suggest that Jarvis cyclists could use the Don Valley Trail instead of Jarvis."

Ummm... I wouldn't suggest biking that trail by yourself after the sun goes down, and presumably some cyclists will need to travel in the evening

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By z jones (registered) | Posted May 26, 2009 at 19:20:21

Knock Toronto city council all you want, at least they ended up making the right decision at the end of the day. In Hamilton this proposal might never even make it out of committee. Some things, like the guy who wanted to explain why he thinks he should be allowed to keep a few hens in his backyard, never even make it INTO committee.

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By jason (registered) | Posted May 26, 2009 at 22:13:41

Quelar, FYI - I tend towards conservative values and agree that this bike lane proposal is a no-brainer. Don't believe everything you hear on US news networks about what makes a 'conservative' or 'liberal'. An issue like this Jarvis St redevelopment is common sense in my mind. I wish every street could have bike lanes added like this.

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By Michelle Martin (registered) - website | Posted May 26, 2009 at 22:58:56

"Don't believe everything you hear on US news networks about what makes a 'conservative' or 'liberal'." Jason, above.

I'll second that.

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By jason (registered) | Posted May 27, 2009 at 09:45:33

this story gets crazier and crazier with opponents vowing to make it a political issue next election. Wow. What is happening in TO, Ben???

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted May 27, 2009 at 10:34:20

When you finish unpacking all the cruft and overhead of politics, partisanship, culture warriors and so on, at bottom the big difference between liberal and conservative is a difference not of particular beliefs or even of fundamental moral values per se but rather of the relative weights given to shared moral values.

Psychologist Johnathan Haidt does an excellent job of explaining this in his TED talk:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vs41JrnGa...

He identifies five universal foundations of morality, which appear again and again across the world's civilizations and emerge through research in many different domains of inquiry:

  1. Harm/care - a desire to care for others who are vulnerable
  2. Fairness/reciprocity - expressed in the Golden Rule
  3. In-group loyalty - family/community/gang/tribal solidarity
  4. Authority/respect - honouring and obeying people with authority
  5. Purity/sanctity - keeping the body and mind clean and pure

After comparing the results of tens of thousands of surveys taken at:

http://www.yourmorals.org/

Haidt notes a persistent correlation between political orientation and the relative weighting of the five foundations of morality. Liberals tend to weight #1 and #2 more highly and de-emphasize #3, #4, and #5, whereas the five foundations are weighted more equally among conservatives.

The result, as Haidt points out, is: "Liberals speak for the weak and oppressed; they want change and justice, even at the risk of chaos. ... Conservatives, on the other hand, speak for institutions and traditions; they want order even at some cost to those at the bottom."

In the end, Haidt argues for what he calls "moral humility" - a deliberate move to step out of the self-righteousness that comes from the certainty that "we" are in the right and "they" are idiots.

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By jason (registered) | Posted May 27, 2009 at 11:24:08

From above - "In the end, Haidt argues for what he calls "moral humility" - a deliberate move to step out of the self-righteousness that comes from the certainty that "we" are in the right and "they" are idiots."

Great quote. I wonder what the big news networks would do with themselves if people ever starting living according to this motto??

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By the dude (anonymous) | Posted May 27, 2009 at 22:54:20

finally, some intelligent comments. i've been reading the comments on the toronto sun, star etc. and the hate filled lunacy is depressing me. thanks for some sanity to everyone who has posted here. i can't understand what the big deal is over one lane of traffic in a city the size of toronto, which has over 5000km of roads and about 130km of bike lanes. someday toronto will get dragged, kicking and screaming, into the 21st century. hopefully that day is soon.

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By Meredith (registered) - website | Posted May 27, 2009 at 23:55:56

I wouldn't be surprised if some of the debate was so vociferous, and had to be seen as taking a lot of time and thought, because this affects the wealthiest neighbourhoods in the city (Leaside, the Bridle Path, and Rosedale) - all of whom, if they drive, will generally use Mt. Pleasant to Jarvis as the quickest route downtown.

Those who actually live downtown will be minimally affected, and suburbanites I can't see as being particularly vocal about in-town driving beyond "it's always terrible" compared to where they're from.

Even if the concept is a slam-dunk, the process can't be seen to be or else some very wealthy folks will get upset. Those who want their votes and support will be lining up to make this a hot-button issue and blow it way out of proportion.

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By jason (registered) | Posted May 28, 2009 at 07:49:10

yup, you're right. When I read in the Globe that this road is used by some of Toronto's wealthiest it all made sense.

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted May 28, 2009 at 10:00:46

I opened the Globe website and what is the first headline I see ... Auto Bailout Costs Soar.

What do I see on the Toronto Sun website ... Mayor and his Pals Giving Cyclists a Free Ride.

Whoa.

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By jason (registered) | Posted May 28, 2009 at 10:15:32

LOL. I didn't realize that in Toronto people who ride bikes don't have to pay taxes. the SUN is as tabloid as the US media.

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By Rusty (registered) - website | Posted May 28, 2009 at 10:47:59

The Toronto Cyclists Union Spokesperson deals with this nicely in her LTE earlier this week:

http://www.thestar.com/article/640951

"Cyclists are not freeloaders. Motorists' user fees pay for highways, not local roads, which are paid for by property taxes we all pay. Since bicycles impose much lower roadway costs than cars, bicyclists are actually subsidizing motorists."

So much misinformation...

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