Recently installed bike lanes on Jarvis Street are on the chopping block after the city’s public works committee voted to remove them late Thursday.
The committee is also calling for a separated bike lane be added to Sherbourne Street.
Coun. Denzil Minnan-Wong is on the committee and voted to remove the Jarvis Street lanes. He feels a Sherbourne Street bike lane will be safer for cyclists and help clear congestion for drivers.
"Not only do you have safety and connectivity, you also have a separate bike lane on a route that is not a primary north-south route for motorists getting in and out of the city," he said.
Removing the Jarvis Street bike lanes ties into a plan announced last week from that recommends construction of a series of separated bike lanes in the downtown core.
'We've got a traffic congestion problem'
Minnan-Wong had hinted the Jarvis Street lanes may become a casualty of the new plan for bike lanes.
"We’ve got a traffic congestion problem," he said Thursday. "This administration would like to address that."
Biking advocates have long argued for separated lanes, saying they make cyclists feel safer and boost overall bike use.
Andrea Garcia of the Toronto Cyclists Union said removing the bike lanes on Jarvis Street is a wasteful move that will eliminate a brand new piece of infrastructure that is serving the city well.
"People live, work and do errands and have friends on Jarvis Street and they need to use the street as well," she said. "I’m not sure how using Sherbourne Street in order to get to their work on Jarvis Street is going to help them."
Garcia said Jarvis Street lanes have been well-used by those downtown bike commuters.
"Bike usage has tripled since the bike lanes were put in," said Garcia. "Whereas car volumes have actually stayed the same and staff have reported no significant delays."
Council will have a chance to vote on removing the bike lanes in mid July. Minnan-Wong admits removing them will come at a cost.
"There’s going to be some costs associated with that but I think the reality is that there are a number of individuals in the city who use Jarvis Street and this has been a sore point for them and they would like those lanes removed."
Mayor Rob Ford supports the plan to remove the lanes, and said residents have been calling him to demand the Jarvis Street bike lanes be removed.
"I want to get rid of the bike lanes on Jarvis," said Ford. "A lot of people [have been] calling me and they want to get rid of them. I do what the taxpayers want me to do. They want them gone, so we’re gonna try to get rid of them."