So I received a response from the Mayor’s email account to the letter I sent yesterday. I guess he does listen to taxpayers? But wait! Everyone else who wrote to the mayor on this issue received the same response. You can read his response on Duncan’s Biking Toronto Blog. It was infuriating. It does nothing to address our concerns and is clear that the mayor is not open to any new ideas or different points of view.
So I’ve written back to the mayor. He’s not getting off that easily.
It’s disappointing that you’ve replied with a standard form letter that does nothing to address the issues presented in my letter, nor does it take anything I’ve said seriously. I spent a significant amount of time crafting a respectful letter to you in which I informed you of real concerns I have about our city. By sending the identical response to citizens who have written to you on this issue, you’re sending a message that our letters don’t matter.
You’ve presented me with an over-simplified argument that says that the volume of cyclists doesn’t warrant the special treatment that you feel bike lanes afford. You’ve also argued that it’s unfair to somehow penalize “commuters” by making room on the road for different vehicles.
It’s been made clear time and time again that bike lanes on Jarvis have not caused the gridlock that you warned it would. In fact, the City of Toronto report stated that car travel times were affected by only two minutes a day and that is mostly due to cars making left turns.
If I drove a car instead of riding a bike then that would contribute to gridlock. Cars take up 10 times the space on the road. It’s absurd to argue that bikes are the cause of Toronto’s traffic woes, when like you stated, 15,000 people are driving large vehicles daily in just this one area. Furthermore, bicycles are entitled to take an entire lane on the road that could be used for a car. Removing bike lanes doesn’t eliminate bikes from roads, it only serves to make cycling more difficult and dangerous.
Even if I were to accept your argument that lanes for 600 cyclists cause gridlock, which I don’t, isn’t your job as leader of our city to take care of everyone, not just the majority that makes the loudest noise? Good governance is about governing – looking toward the future, finding ways for growth and sustainability, and supporting the electorate who has given you the privilege of running this fine city.
The original plan for Jarvis street called for a revitalization that would see wider sidewalks and trees. It always included the removal of the fifth lane. Therefore, any argument that removing bike lanes will fix traffic gridlock becomes moot because that lane isn’t coming back.
As for our economy, how about opening your mind a little and exploring the ways in which cycling infrastructure and more liveable streets would increase tourism and encourage more people to live in the city in which they work? How about looking at ways to reduce gridlock by reducing the number of cars on the street? After all, we have a finite amount of space.
I hope you will take the time to consider my concerns this time. I share this point of view with thousands of Torontonians and we deserve to be heard.