This week, the Jarvis bike lanes seem to be a point of contention. Some are talking about traffic Armageddon. Others urge more Torontonians to move from automobile to bicycle.
My take on the matter is that I like bike lanes, in theory. My issues are in their implementation.
Toronto roads are overcrowded already. While I can see many turning to the bicycle with the new lanes, I cannot see the number making even a small dent in the number of cars trying to navigate our city streets. So I look at placing bike lanes on Jarvis and University as additional disincentives, not so gently urging people to abandon their cars.
The difficulty I see is that many people have few other options to the car. Away from the subway lines, travel to downtown is much longer by transit than by car. Comfort on transit is secondary, whether one considers the crowding during rush hour to the state of many stations and stops. Personally, I often have to travel to several city locations during a day. Transit does not effectively allow this, as it takes often twice the travel time by transit.
We are in some serious trouble. We have 1,000,000 people expected to call Toronto home in the next 10 years. We have many new condominiums being built around the city. And the city is hard pressed to keep its existing roads in decent shape, let alone create new ones for the additional traffic.
Getting back to bike lanes, they are useful. However, they should be kept off the main thoroughfares unless there is no alternative.
One other thing. During the summer, one can almost think that bike lanes are a benefit. Once the Canadian winter comes and the lanes are empty, I suspect we will hear more from drivers incensed that they cannot access that wasted road space.
Talk to your candidates for mayor and councilor. Learn what their thoughts are on the matter. Personally, I think Rocco Rossi, an inveterate cyclist himself, has some good ideas. But talk to them all and make your own choice.
The next few years should see rage about the roads play a bigger part of city politics.