A cyclist who says he was hit twice by cars on Jarvis Street before the bike lanes were installed was one of a handful of protesters who interrupted the removal of the lanes on Monday by staging a sit-in.

Steve Fisher, 33, lives along Jarvis and says the decision to remove the lanes threatens the safety of citizens.

He sat on Jarvis near Wellesley Street East, and said he was prepared to stay “a good long while” and was willing to be forcibly removed.

“This is a fight that I individually decided to make because it directly impacts my safety and the safety of my neighbourhood,” the freelance writer and Canadian Forces reservist said.

“I don’t feel that a proper public consultation was done.”

A city truck drove around him to continue removing the bike lane, but was met with another seated civilian, Michael Polanyi, a bit farther down the road.

Polanyi, a 49-year-old researcher, said he was willing to be arrested for the cause.

“I think (removing the bike lane) is wrong and it’s creating a total lack of safety for cyclists,” he said.

Polanyi wants an environmental assessment and full public consultation on the issue.

“We know that before bike lanes were here it was one of the most unsafe streets in Toronto, and everyone has a right to safety on the streets and we know that it’s not going to make that much of a difference in terms of traffic congestion (if you keep the lanes).”

The bike lanes will be replaced by a centre-reversible lane for vehicle traffic to be installed between Queen and Isabella streets. Pay parking will also be re-introduced on the west side of Jarvis.

Lanes will be reduced during the construction, the city warned.

Once the work is completed, which the city said should happen by early December, the centre lane will run northbound from approximately 3:45 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., Monday to Friday.

It will be southbound at all other times.  

The bike lanes on Jarvis were installed in July 2010 at a cost of $86,000.

City council voted on July 13, 2011, to get rid of the lanes but was met with huge resistance. The lanes were the subject of heated debate at council, with protesters holding “ride-ins” along the busy corridor.

According to a city report released in June 2011, the number of daily cyclists on Jarvis rose from 290 to 890, while the number of motorists has remained constant at 13,000.

City staff said that travel times have increased by approximately two minutes in both directions during the morning rush, and by three to five minutes in the evening rush.

Council voted 19-24 to remove the lanes on Oct. 2, 2012, at a cost of about $300,000. The lanes weren’t to be removed until the separated lanes on Sherbourne Street, one block east, were finished.

But work on the Sherbourne bike lanes remains unfinished.

The city’s consultant on the project, Premnauth Deonarain, told CityNews.ca that “weather permitting” the dedicated lanes between Bloor and King streets would be finished near the end of November.

An extension of the lanes south of Front Street has been deferred until 2014.

At city hall, Coun. Doug Ford defended the decision to remove the Jarvis bike lanes.

“We listen to the people and the people spoke loud and clear. Along Jarvis they don’t want a bike lane.”

He also highlighted the work being done to make the city bicycle-friendly.

“The Ford administration is putting 100 kilometres of new bike paths throughout the city. The Ford administration has spent twice as much as the Miller administration on bike paths/bike lanes.”