A bike lane on Jarvis St. in Toronto, Ontario was scheduled for removal but six protesters staged a sit-in to prevent construction workers from removing the lane. The removal crew gave up after only clearing about 200 meters of road. It’s inspiring to see that such a small number of protestors were able to make a difference, even if it was just for a day.
One of the protestors, Steve Fisher, said that he was hit by cars on that route twice while riding his bike before the bike lanes were installed, so it’s pretty clear why he doesn’t want them removed. Other cyclists have said that even if the bike lanes do get taken away, they’ll still continue riding on Davis and will resort to riding in the road, putting them more at risk and potentially aggravating motorists more than when the bike lanes were implemented.
The bike lane has been a bit of a hot button item for the city in recent years. In 2010, the lane was installed for $59,000, but council “voted to reverse that decision last year.” Now the city is looking at a price tag of $300,000 to remove the bike lane and reinstall an extra lane of traffic. This tug of war battle appears to be costing the city money and time as well as inconveniencing local residents (both cyclists and motorists).
Still, the cyclists’ protest garnered enough attention from the press to highlight the issue of bike safety and the concept of sharing the road. For some, cycling is their only means of transportation. For others, it’s a way to stay healthy. But regardless of the reason, cycling should be embraced by the community, not regarded as a nuisance.
It’s unfortunate that Toronto showed promise in becoming a more progressive, cycling-friendly city, only to then take a step backwards and end up right back where they started. Hopefully more passionate members of the cycling community will continue to urge their cities to embrace cycling and spread the message that pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists can all coexist peacefully and safely.
The cycling cause needs more vocal supporters who are motivated to take action and educate lawmakers via nonviolent protests, fundraisers, and general awareness. While some cities (such as Portland) are slowly beginning to embrace cycling and become more friendly to cyclists, others are still largely ignorant to the need for sharing the road and making sure that all citizens, no matter their mode of transportation, deserve safety and respect.
Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/sweetone/4827544561/