Protesters try to delay Jarvis bike lane removal
Chris Kitching and Sandie Benitah, cp24.com
Published Monday, November 12, 2012 6:26AM EST
Last Updated Monday, November 12, 2012 5:00PM EST
Demonstrators briefly gathered on Jarvis Street Monday afternoon as city employees began the weeks-long task of removing bike lanes on the downtown route.
According to the city, the schedule for repainting the road will depend on weather conditions, but the centre lane is expected to be back in place by early December.
Street parking will return to the west side of Jarvis Street once the road reverts to five lanes.
Those opposed to the idea originally planned to hold a vigil on Jarvis Street Monday night, but some decided to show up in the afternoon and hold a sit-in in the meantime.
"We have tried to raise concerns that removing the lanes will put the lives and safety of Toronto citizens at risk but the mayor and city council have refused to listen, or even hold public consultations on this decision," says a statement released by a group calling themselves the Jarvis Emergency Taskforce.
"Therefore, we feel called to put our bodies on the line and to risk arrest by non-violently resisting the removal of the Jarvis bike lane. We are committed to non-violence. We will not use physical force. We will not harm property. We will not shout at, threaten or abuse others," the note continued to say.
The demonstration cleared shortly before 3 p.m. without incident.
With an estimated price tag of about $275,000, the city is tearing up the bike lanes two years after they were implemented at a cost of $86,000.
Last year, city council voted to remove the lanes in favour of bike routes on Sherbourne Street, and in October rejected a last-ditch effort to keep the lanes.
Mayor Rob Ford was one of the city council members who pushed for the lanes to be removed.
“During my campaign I listened to the people that use that road," Ford said Monday. "They want to get home to their families quicker and that’s what I’ve done, I’ve listened to the taxpayers and done what they want me to do.”
In September, Ontario's Ministry of the Environment rejected an appeal by Cycle Toronto to stop the removal of the lanes.
The group of demonstrators said in their statement that their issue is with the mayor and city councillors who "refuse to listen to community voices, circumvent public consultations, ignore evidence and willingly jeopardize human safety."
The activists said they want the bike lanes on Jarvis to remain on site until the new ones on Sherbourne between Bloor and Queen Streets are ready to use. They are also asking for a public assessment on the impact of removing the lanes as well as public consultations on the issue.
@ChrisKitching and @SandieBenitah are on Twitter. Don't forget, for instant breaking news, follow @CP24 on Twitter.