Terror Attacks planned for Toronto? Get Real. breaking news dept.

[NOTE: THIS POST HAS BEEN UPDATED FOR CLARITY: WE SUPPORT THE INSTALLATION OF BIKELANES ON TORONTO’S WELLESLEY STREET. SEE BELOW FOR THE EVER-HANDY JANE JACOBS QUOTE THAT WILL SWAY EVEN CASE OOTES, AT HIS HOME ON A CAR-FREE RAVINE CUL-DE-SAC, TO OUR SIDE OF THE ARGUMENT –ed.]

Wellesley street in Toronto runs from the University of Toronto at the west, passes Queen’s Park behind the Provincial Parliament, and continues east, crossing Bay Street with its cluster of Ontario government office buildings, the busy commercial Yonge Street, Church Street (home of the “steps,” nexus of Toronto’s Gay village), Sherbourne (with its new Police headquarters/community centre), and on to Parliament Ave. Between Sherbourne and Parliament it passes St Jamestown, a forest of highrise residential buildings that erupted from the plain back in the heyday of heroic modernism. St Jamestown is said to be one of the densest residential developments in Canada.

At Parliament the road withers as it enters the pretty residential neighbourhood of Cabbagetown, but it does continue. It only ends about two blocks farther on, at the entrance to a park on the edge of the Don Valley.

If you’re on a bicycle though, Wellesley street doesn’t stop. It becomes a little sidewalk fronting some houses: a real model for carfree living in the city. You can ride through the park and take a gravel trail that descends to the valley floor. This extension of Wellesley street was historically a main crossing point of the Don Valley; from here you would ford the river and carry on to the other side. Historically, Wellesley Street became “Don Mills Road” at the centre of the river.

Nowadays, of course, on your bike you would hit the Rosedale Valley road and the Bayview extension, two heavily traveled car routes, and would not be invited to cross the river: not by fording, canoeing, wading, or otherwise. [Best to stay out of the Don River in any case, unless you relish the thought of a third arm sprouting from your midsection (genetic mutations, you know) –ed.].

But Wellesley Street is under attack.

What is the target? The university? Queen’s Park? The goverment buildings at Bay? The “Steps” on Church? The new Police station? St Jamestown?

Nah. It’s the road itself. It’s four lanes wide, and is slated for bikelanes each way.

And who is the perpetrator? Religious fundamentalists? Right wing zealots? “Homegrown” terrorists?

Wrong on all counts. The folks who are moving on Wellesley are cyclists, angry about the delay in implementing Toronto’s bike plan.

happy bikelane riders, waving their cheerful little arms

So what are the weapons? Bombs? Chemical fertilizer? Three tons of amonium Nitrate? Grenades?

Actually, none of the above. It’s petitions.

Seems the city councillors responsible for Wellesley Street, Kyle Rae and Pam McConnell, have not been paying attention. The street was repaved from Yonge to Sherbourne last year, and the stretch restriped without bikelanes. Now it’s about to be repaved again, this time between Yonge and Bay.

But the street is under attack, by cyclists wielding petitions, determined to get bikelanes included this time. It’s on the bikeplan already. What’s the controversy?

There isn’t anything to argue about. Paint the bikelanes.

Unless you drive a car there. Car drivers on Wellesley are having the usual terror attacks over this one. But they’ll be happier with the smoother flow of traffic that a bikelane always brings with it. In the immortal words of Jane Jacobs, you can have “erosion of cities by automobiles or attrition of cars by cities.” The choice for bikelanes is a choice for overcoming car dependency in Toronto.

A group of us rode the length and breadth of Wellesley yesterday, in an official “Toronto BikeWeek event.” We rang our little chimes, most of us in full religious headgear [bike helmets that is –ed.], and were greeted with cheers from all. We even chalked some slogans and icons: “Bikelane” we wrote, and made drawings of diamonds, bikes, and chalked lines about five feet from the curb. We waved the petition at startled passers-by, and got honks of support from many passing cars.

It really is a no-brainer.

Contact arezosk at toronto.ca, to sign the petition or show your support. Contact Kyle Rae councillor_rae at toronto.ca and Pam McConnell councillor_mcconnel at toronto.ca, to tell them you’re a cyclist and you ride Wellesley.

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