$6 Million Project to Make Jarvis Street More Bike-Friendly Approved

Just found this article on Spacing about what took place in the council chambers during the session to vote for the approval of the $6 million *takes a deep breath* "Jarvis Streetscape Improvement Environmental Assessment Bloor Street East to Queen Street East" project. Although only $50k~$100k will be devoted to the conversion of one of the lanes on Jarvis Street into a dedicated bike lane, the majority of the discussion (and controversy) was devoted to this.

Long story short, it's been approved, however I can't help but notice councillor Rob Ford adding his poorly worded opinion to the discussion. I am all for honest discourse but with real arguments. Please, if you are a constituent of Rob Ford in Etobicoke, write to him and let him know acting like a petulant child will not get your needs (as well as those of the rest of Toronto) across to the council. Personally I wouldn't want to be represented by him, come next election would you?

I cannot help but think that certain councillors really enjoy bogging everything down with minor details and miss the point of these important projects. I understand that it may be a hassle for commuters but I often fear for the safety of bikers downtown. This bike lane is great news for anyone who wants to bike to work but takes one look at the traffic and changes their mind. I feel that if bikers had their own bike lane, drivers will respect their space and pedestrians don't have to worry about dodging a bike on the sidewalk (Big no-no!).

Moving on, the plans for wider sidewalks, historical plaques and other beautification methods (with lots of trees, flowers and shrubs alike I'm sure) is definitely a great move for a better neighbourhood. A city with walkable and bike-friendly streets is a safer, happier and healthier place. Have you heard of the wonderful suburb of Vauban located in Germany?

 Click the image to be taken to the New York Times Article: "In German Suburb, Life Goes On Without Cars"

This is probably one of the most sustainable suburbs currently in development (*ahem* Vaughan you should pay attention!) and a real life example of why projects like...like the one council just approved are important to all constituents, whether they walk, drive or bike. Without roads dedicated to cars, the community is safer for children, allowing them to move about and play. As a mixed-use community, retail areas are littered around the neighbourhood encouraging residents to walk or bike more to reach their destinations, a healthier option for everyone (I'm certain that North American waistlines would benefit from this). Another great benefit is how the constant din of the highway, screaming sirens and general noise pollution caused by vehicles has disappeared with the roads. Here's a quote from one of the community's residents:

“When I had a car I was always tense. I’m much happier this way,” said Heidrun Walter, a media trainer and mother of two, as she walked verdant streets where the swish of bicycles and the chatter of wandering children drown out the occasional distant motor.

Any residents that wish to own their own vehicle must purchase a parking space for $40,000 in one of the two nearby municipal garages. These garages also offer a car-sharing service for residents that wish to use an automobile but don't simply don't require a car on a day-to-day basis. I feel the requirement of purchasing a parking spot is another demonstration of the true cost of the land we devote to our vehicles. 

What I would love to see in Canada (and Toronto) would be policies that restrict commercial and residential development that lack connections to public transportation. Also, changing policies concerning residential zoning to allow areas to become mixed-use spaces that are more walkable. It doesn't just make sense environmentally, it makes sense economically. How else can all those suburban home owners that have lost their jobs (many of which have been laid off from nearby manufacturing plants) pay their mortgages? Retrofitting homes to become mixed use residential and commercial spaces will benefit the local economy and perhaps even improve the safety of suburban streets. What pair of eyes are more watchful on the street than that of a street vendor or store owner? It is in their interests to be alert to the happenings of the neighborhood, as well as to respect and offer a service to their neighbors. There are so many ways we can change Toronto (and Canada for that matter) for the better. Many are not aware of it, but the suburb is going the way of the dinosaur. In the future, the North American dream of a suburban home will be a distant memory. Here is a shocking documentary called "The End of Suburbia", describing exactly why:

While I believe the views of this documentary are often somewhat extremist, I feel there are several steps we can take in order to avoid this fate. Hopefully we are not too far gone.


HiMY SYeD said...

Hi Christina,

Thank you for penning a succinct blog post going beyond much of the commentary in the past 24 hours about Jarvis Street, Bikes vs. Cars, suburbs.

May I, with your permission, repost parts of this article onto Torontopedia.ca.

You will of course see a full by-line credit in your name, with links back to this url.

I also run a Toronto cityblog and, again, with your permission, would like to ask that if I can repost your article as it is, again with full author by-line credit and link back to this url.

Please let me know if that is okay with you, an answer in the comments section here will do.



Christina McGregor said...

Sure! Send me a link to the post when you're done. =)


Christina McGregor said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

"While I believe the views of this documentary are often somewhat extremist..."

Have you noticed that most of what was predicted in the film has happened or is happening now?

Keith said...

Great read Christina. I've always questioned the city of TO when it comes to planning & transportation but dedicated bike lanes are a win win for motorists & bikers.

Christina McGregor said...


I have, I just don't necessarily subscribe to their beliefs that there is nothing that can be done if we choose to act decisively. If we act swiftly, on multiple fronts, something can definitely be done.


Thanks for reading! I love Toronto, I really hope to see it thrive as a green city of the future.