Jarvis and Scarborough bike lanes die following particularly childish council debate
Well, that’s that: just before taking their lunch break today, council voted to adopt Denzil Minnan-Wong’s bike network plan, which calls for the removal of bike lanes from Pharmacy and Birchmount in Scarborough and, much more acrimoniously, the lanes from Jarvis, with the intent, according to Minnan-Wong, of restoring the reversible fifth lane. Meanwhile, the plan also calls for protected bike lanes to be installed one block east on Sherbourne. To say that the council meeting over the last day and a half has been lowbrow would be an insult to Adam Sandler movies. Some examples after the jump.
1. What the world needs now is more macho posturing
Glenn De Baeremaeker accusing Mayor Rob Ford of putting his life in danger, and then suggesting that Ford should bike to council like De Baeremaeker does because “that’s what a man would do.” De Baeremaeker apologized yesterday and then again today—but not before being threatened with eviction yesterday by speaker Frances Nunziata.
2. Holy decorum, Batman
The number of shouting matches exceeded what was countable, and what was once mildly absurd is becoming ridiculous (not to mention the number of councillors rising on points of order to censure the behaviour of their ruder counterparts). It’s also kind of making a mockery of people like newbie councillor Josh Matlow, with his constant appeals to civility and bipartisanship. We appreciate the sentiment, but at this point, it’s like begging for water in the desert.
3. Evidence? Nah
In face of the fact that bike lanes had delayed motor traffic on Jarvis by only the slightest of margins (“the length of your favourite Beatles song,” said De Baeremaeker, post-shouting), councillors like Minnan-Wong and Frank Di Giorgio were unmoved. Somewhat less irritating, though still questionable, was the pro–bike lane argument that traffic volume (the number of cars) hadn’t declined. Which would be exactly what we’d expect of a very congested street—traffic speed would slow down with the same number of cars. Both sides were having some issues with the facts yesterday, but on the overall vote the anti-Jarvis side “wins” this particular Pyrrhic prize.
We’ll confess to being relieved that this fight is over, one way or another. As a final note, we got another taste of just how silly the notion of non-partisan city politics is, as vote after whipped vote failed by the exact same margins—28-17. The final vote (to adopt the bike plan) was 28-9, as pro-Jarvis councillors walked out while the Ford caucus stayed exactly the same. Amusingly, then-councillor Ford told us last year he hated the idea of party politics at the city level. It sure seems to be working for him now.