Both want to encourage Torontonians to cycle, but disagree whether dedicated bike lanes should be built along heavily travelled arterial roads or along secondary streets. Central to the discussion is the fate of new bike lanes along Jarvis Street, a plan recently backed by city council.
The addition of bicycle lanes was a provision made to the Jarvis Street Streetscape Improvement Environmental Assessment, a study to improve the public realm of the Jarvis area. Although the decision to develop bike lanes on Jarvis Street, a north-south arterial road, has been finalized, Rossi believes building them on secondary streets will benefit everyone.
Meanwhile, life-long cyclist Bambrick, sees it differently: “If you think about providing Torontonians with real options and alternatives to taking a car, using the subway or walking, then creating a safe place for cyclists to ride on the road is really the way to encourage new people to cycle.” Bambrick said.
Despite Rossi’s objection towards developing bike lanes on arterial roads, Bambrick says cyclists will rightfully continue to use them and deems their safety a priority.
“Whether Rocco Rossi likes it or not, bikes will be on arterial roads and they are going to be in harm’s way. If we continue to shuttle bikes through tight, unsafe curb lanes and heavy traffic it just won’t work,” Bambrick said.
“Bikes are present and we have to accommodate safe passage for the citizens in our city that want to make that choice.”
Building a better transit system is one of the key components in Rossi’s mayoral campaign. He believes until the TTC sees improvements, using a car as a means of transportation won’t be an option for citizens, it will be a necessity. For Rossi, accommodations for cyclists should only be put into action when cycling becomes the main option.
“Down the road if we discovered that the majority of Torontonians went to work on their bicycles, then you’d have to start building different networks.” Rossi said.
But according to Bambrick, there is no more room in the city for cars and expanding the transit system is too time consuming. She feels the cheapest, fastest and most efficient way to increase capacity on the road ways is to build bike infrastructure. Bambrick argues that cyclists are left out and have to fight against the other forms of transportation.
“If you think about the way our streets are built, there is designated space for transit, pedestrians, cars and trucks but where are bikes?” questions Bambrick.
“Cyclists are left to fend for themselves between moving and stationary vehicles.”
The solution? Utilizing the bicycle lanes on Sherbourne Street, said Rossi. “Quite frankly, there are already bike lanes on Sherbourne Street right next to Jarvis [Street] that doesn’t have a huge amount of traffic.” he said.
“To take out another lane of traffic on a road that moves almost 30,000 cars everyday just doesn’t add up.”
However, Bambrick insists relegating bicycles to just side streets is unrealistic: “There is no convenient or straight-forward way to move from one part of the city to another only on side streets,” she said.
“The bottom line is people take arterial roads because it’s usually the most direct route to get somewhere.”
A cyclist himself, Rossi said he’s not opposed to bike lanes but simply wants an extended network; Bambrick doesn’t buy it.
“You can’t say you support bike lanes but not in the places they are most needed.” she said.
Rossi on the other hand, frequently questions where exactly they are needed.
“Show me the volume in numbers on Sherbourne; that it’s bursting at the seams and needs another route right beside it. Show me how these numbers relate to the number of cars, people and trucks that we are trying to move at the same time,” Rossi said.
“I want a fact-based discussion that I am happy to discuss at any time on the merits of the arguments and not simply ideology.”
When all is said and done, Bambrick insists a war between the two isn’t brewing. For her, the main objective is to find a better solution to accommodate cyclists throughout the city.
“There is no war here. It’s really just about rethinking how we move people through our city and trying to accommodate them,” Bambrick said.
“We need to give more options to people who wish to take active transportation instead of passive and public transportation.”