28 June 2011

Mayor Ford and Jarvis Street, Toronto

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One of our readers, Kevin, sent us this email exchange between him and the mayor of Toronto, Rob Ford. We've blogged about Rob Ford a few times before. It is regarding the Mayor's decision/proposal to remove the bicycle lanes on Jarvis Street.

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06/25/11 07:56
Please do not remove the Jarvis bicyle lanes.

1,000 cyclists on Jarvis Street depend on those lanes for safety. There is
simply no justification for removing these lanes. The street is working fine for
everyone.

The biggest concern against the Jarvis Street bike lane prior to implementation
was significant delays in travel times for motor vehicles. A staff report
released in April shows that these delays have not materialized. Updated traffic
counts (see page 17) from the City of Toronto showed that following the
installation of bike lanes on Jarvis Street, motor vehicle volumes remained the
same while cycling volumes tripled. It makes no sense to remove a bike lane from
a street that works for all road users. This is wasteful spending at City Hall.
In fact, Mayor Ford, you were asked during the 2010 election if he would remove
the Jarvis bike lanes if elected. Your answer was no because it would be a
waste of money. You were absolutely correct then.

As a business owner living and working in the city of Toronto, I drive (yes
drive) Jarvis regularly. The addition of bike lanes has not impacted traffic
flow in my experience. I believe it has actually made driving on Jarvis more
pleasant! Motorist behaviour has become more civilized on this route.

I also believe that the constituants that live and work on Jarvis are finding it
a more pleasant environment as well. At the very least they should have been
consulted before Mr. Parker and your committee made this move. Surely that
would have shown respect for taxpayers.

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From: Mayor Ford
To: Kevin
Sent: Tue, June 28, 2011 9:57:43 AM

Thank you for your email regarding the bike lanes on Jarvis Street. I appreciate hearing from you.

Toronto's economy loses billions of dollars every year from gridlock and traffic congestion. We need to make the situation better - not worse. The Jarvis Street bike lanes experiment has been a failure. Ninety-four percent of commuters now face longer commutes on Jarvis Street. Over 15,000 commuters each day are suffering from longer travel times, for the sake of 600 additional cyclists.

The City should remove the bike lanes as soon as possible and improve travel times for thousands of daily commuters. City staff have been directed to develop a low-cost plan to do so. Bike lanes were never intended to be installed on Jarvis Street. The original Environmental Assessment recommended against installing bike lanes - but City Council amended the report to approve bike lanes anyway.

As promised during the mayoral election, I am dedicated to delivering customer service excellence, creating a transparent and accountable government, reducing the size and cost of government and building a transportation city.

Thank you again for taking the time to share your thoughts. Please feel free to contact my office again at any time.

Yours truly,

Mayor Rob Ford
City of Toronto

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to Mayor Ford
date 28 June 2011 17:37

Mr. Mayor

Simply put you are dead wrong.

Toronto does indeed have a gridlock problem, sir, but it is not caused by bicycle lanes. It is caused by an ever-growing number of automobiles on the road and aggressive, antisocial driver behaviour. Auto-centric development and an addiction to the personal automobile is the failure here Mr. Ford......not the Jarvis bicycle lanes.

Please don't insult my intelligence by going on about how how 15,000 commuters are suffering because of the bicycle lanes. I have driven it in an automobile Mr. Ford, any length in commuting time is insignificant. I don't consider a couple of extra minutes of commute time as suffering. I will also point out to you, sir, that Mount Pleasant is gridlocked all the way down from Eglinton...none of Mount Pleasant has bicycle lanes to blame the gridlock on.

Mr. Ford, it is not the 1960's any more. You will never reduce gridlock in Toronto until you reduce the number of automobiles. No matter how many bike lanes you rip out or how many roads you think you can build.

Thank you for mentioning in your email that you are dedicated to creating a transparent and accountable government. In light of that statement would you please explain to me why you are going to great lengths to fight the audit of you campaign expenses. I believe you yourself said "let them audit, I have nothing to hide".

Kevin