Ladies of Toronto, our Lady heart goes out to you.
First your idiot mayor removes newly installed bicycle lanes on Jarvis Street, wasting city resources and removing more-equitable* options for Ladies throughout the city. Then your idiot mayor is caught smoking crack (perhaps explaining the aforementioned situation). Now, more Ladies on two wheels, Ladies on foot, and Ladies in steel-boxes are crashing into one another along the bicycle-lane-memorial-that-is-Jarvis-Street.
Le sigh, ay. Can’t a Lady of the north catch a break?
Well, Ladies, it turns out there IS a lesson to be pulled from this caddywhompus affair, and it may help make the case for future bicycle infrastructure: data shows that bicycle lanes may help make streets safer for all road users.
Huzzah! A somewhat pyrrhic victory, but a victory all the same! And considering your permanently-santa-cheeked leadership, any victory is worth celebrating!
According to data from the City of Toronto obtained between 2008-2013, crashes have increased along the infamous Jarvis Street for street users of ALL modes. Quite frankly, this blows all around. But what is so interesting is the ability to look at crash rates pre, during, and post bicycle lanes. The data looks something like this:
This well-reasoned article from The Grid breaks down the data, what it means, and the timeline for the whole Jarvis Street fiasco.
There’s a lot we don’t know: Could a greater proportion of collisions involving cyclists have gone unreported when the bikes lanes were there? Could Jarvis losing its reversible centre traffic lane have made things less confusing, and, as a result, less dangerous? Could it all just be a coincidence? It’s possible.
But from what we know now, Jarvis seems to have been a safer street with bike lanes on it than it was before, or has been since—and that goes for everyone who took it, were they pedestrians, cyclists, or drivers. In other words: it was a win-win, but not anymore.
In line with what we are already seeing, bicycle infrastructure is magical for communities, Ladies (& Lady-lovers), and everyone and everything else.
Perhaps the presence of people on bikes leads to reduced speeds, forcing drivers to pay more attention to prevent running over another person (since no one wants to run someone else over… or maybe that’s not totally true…), but regardless of the mechanism, two-wheeled citizens being seen and being treated equitably in our transportation models is a true win-win. For everyone.
These lane removals were justified by the mayor with a parallel, lower-traffic lane going in to appease bicycle riders. But that’s the thing – we should be making MORE space and networks for less-damaging modes, not continuing to fail to meet a base level of safety and accessibility for anyone but those in steel.
And removing bicycles from main streets and commercial corridors? It just reinforces the mentality of lovely Ladies being “out-of-place”, accessory, and a problem that must be put “out of the way” of “real traffic”. Take note, Portland (and this, too, though great infrastructure on BOTH roads would expand our network, and would be lovely).
But I digress. Till your weebles mayor is ousted under the weight of his own stupidity, Ladies of Toronto, at least you’ve got some proof that can help stop future bike lane removal. And it may just help Ladies (& Lady-lovers) around the globe, too.
Keep riding, fighting for equity, and smiling for it all, Ladies!
*Perhaps we should say less-abhorrently-absent routes, since our two-wheeled infrastructure is nearly non-existent, and usually an afterthought (though this mentality would be just lovely 🙂 ).