May 17, 2020

A First Look at ActiveTO

A week following the announcement of CurbTO to address pedestrian hotspots and a City Council meeting that approved measures to look into providing space for people, Toronto finally announced a plan to do so under the ActiveTO banner. ActiveTO aims to create over 50 kilometres of quiet streets, close major roads on weekends, and accelerate the bike plan. The details of the quiet streets and road closures were announced on Thursday, May 14, but nothing was announced for bike lanes yet. Yesterday, Helen and I biked along Lake Shore Boulevard, which closed all eastbound traffic lanes from Windermere Avenue to Stadium Road for the long weekend.

Lake Shore Bliss

Cycling on Lake Shore was a real bliss. While there were still a lot of people biking, running, or rollerblading, the added space finally allowed everyone to properly practice physical distancing. Why couldn't they do this a few weeks ago? Even if only two traffic lanes were closed to allow motorists two lanes in each direction, things could have worked out fine and given a visual for a longer term solution to expand the trail, pedestrian spaces, and parkland.
However, navigating the barriers at Windermere and Stadium were a bit tight at times and some tweaks could have been made. Even so, police officers were stationed to make sure no motorists got in to endanger people who walk or bike.

Humber Bay Bottleneck

Continuing west of Windermere and back onto the trail to the Humber Bay Bridge is where everything starts to fall apart. The high volume of trail users – including those lingering on the bridge – have made physical distancing impossible.
Closing one lane on Lake Shore (in red) can relieve Humber Bay Bridge crowding
One way this crowding issue could be addressed is to close one eastbound lane on Lake Shore Boulevard past Windermere Avenue and across the Humber River to Palace Pier which has existing bike lanes. This would be helpful for road cyclists who wish to speed past other trail users and continue onto Lake Shore.
Space provided on Marine Parade Drive
For those who prefer a slower pace, they can take Palace Pier to Waterfront Drive (which has contraflow bike lanes). The parking lane was closed along Marine Parade Drive which helped provide additional space all the way to the Mimico Creek bridge. Again more crowding, which could make the case to further extend the Lake Shore cycle track from Norris Crescent to Park Lawn Road.

Conronation Park Detour

Heading eastbound, I noticed additional barriers covering one traffic lane between the HMCS York driveway and Stadium Road to help navigate people on bikes past the construction at Coronation Park. Unlike the Windermere to Stadium closure which is expected to be only on weekends, this one will remain until the Martin Goodman Trail reopens. Now how about making Queen's Quay one way to increase space for walking or cycling?

Other ActiveTO Goodies

Bayview Avenue Closure (via Becky Katz)
In addition to Lake Shore, Bayview Avenue was fully closed from Rosedale Valley Road to Mill Street, as well as River Street from Bayview Avenue to Gerrard Street. This closure is aimed to relieve crowding along the Lower Don Trail.

The first quiet street installation was put in at Kensington Market (where cars should be permanently banned), while there are some useful ones being considered for Winona Avenue (to bridge the Shaw and Marlee bike lanes), High Park Avenue (to link the Annette bike lanes to the planned Bloor extension), and Cowan-Brock-Emerson. A Toronto Star article revealed one of the North York projects – Shaughnessy Avenue – was immediately taken down due to the flood of complaints.

Call for Bike Lane Action

CurbTO installations such as at Queen and Sorauren are not enough!
In order to hold the City accountable on their promise to accelerate the bike plan, an open letter was sent to Mayor John Tory and Toronto City Council on Thursday, May 14 demanding the following:

  • Immediate installation of cross-town Bloor-Danforth and Yonge St. ‘spine’ bikeways -- approximately 40 km;
  • Installation of 60 km of additional bikeways on urgent basis (after expedited engagement of neighbourhood leaders) to mirror the busiest TTC surface routes; and
  • Implementation of lower speed limits on roads with new bikeways, especially to protect vulnerable and novice riders.

The letter has been endorsed by over 60 community groups (and counting) and has since gotten broad media coverage including NOW Magazine, Toronto.com, and BlogTO.

As a way for individuals to show support, I created a petition based on that ask on Friday, May 15 which got 1000 signatures within the first 24 hours. At the time of posting, almost 1500 people signed to support building bike lanes on Bloor, Danforth, and Yonge now. We are aiming to get 5000 signatures by the May 28 city council meeting, so please sign and share widely.

Until we get a firm commitment on bike lanes from the City of Toronto, let’s keep up the pressure while making the most of the new space available along Lake Shore and Bayview.

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