December 28, 2020

Revisiting Yonge Street

After almost eight years of blogging, I am pleased to announce this marks my 200th blog post! With yongeTOmorrow on the agenda for the January 11, 2021 Infrastructure and Environment Committee meeting, what better way to use this milestone post than to revisit where things stand for cycling on Toronto’s iconic north-south arterial?

Map of various Yonge Street initiatives (via Hafeez A on Twitter)
Back in October, Toronto City Council approved a study for bike lanes on Yonge Street in Midtown from Bloor Street to north of Lawrence Avenue for possible installation in 2021. A north-south bikeway through Midtown has been badly needed for years and there’s a chance it will be joined by a contraflow bike lane on Winona Avenue which would fill a critical gap between the Shaw and Marlee bikeways. Both Yonge and Shaw-Winona-Marlee are expected to be connected with the Eglinton Crosstown LRT and protected bike lanes as part of Eglinton Connects over the next few years.

Earlier in December, Toronto Mayor John Tory reversed his opposition to Transform Yonge in North York Centre from 2018 in which he preferred bike lanes on nearby Beecroft Road instead. The motion was deferred to look at the impact on TTC operations which lead to some design tweaks near Finch station. This revised design, along with the Medical Officer of Health’s endorsement of Transform Yonge and the well received Destination Danforth; all contributed to City Council’s decision to approve Transform Yonge by an 18 to 5 vote. There are a few issues such as construction not expected until 2026, the dangerous Yonge-401 interchange (which falls under provincial jurisdiction), and a further northern extension to Steeles Avenue (or even Highway 7) which would likely be contingent on the Yonge subway extension.

 Video of Yonge-401 Bypass proposal from the Yonge Loves Bikes campaign

When the Midtown stretch was debated in October, Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam brought forward a motion to further extend the Yonge bike lanes south from Bloor to Gerrard Street given the recommended design for yongeTOmorrow included cycle tracks from College Street to Gerrard. Wong-Tam withdrew her motion at the time, but it could be worth revisiting when yongeTOmorrow gets debated. Phase 2 of this project will cover College to Davenport Road, but public consultations for that phase are not expected to happen until after Phase 1 from College to Queen Street get council approval.

As discussed in my September 2020 update, Gerrard to Shuter Street will include pedestrian priority areas (with cycling access) and one-way motor vehicle traffic in other areas which effectively provides people who bike an extra-wide contraflow lane. During the overnight hours (1:00 – 6:00 AM), the gates will open to allow two-way TTC overnight bus service and other motor vehicle traffic.

Recommend design for yongeTOmorrow (via City of Toronto)
Unfortunately, the final report still leaves the Shuter to Queen stretch unchanged with two-way motor vehicle traffic and no protected bike lanes. Something which needs to be called out when IEC and City Council debate this item.

Another issue which needs to be considered is the 2023 to 2025 construction timeframe. While earlier than Transform Yonge, pilot bike lanes and pedestrian priority areas should be taken into account to help guide improvements during the detailed design phase. In essence, bringing back Wong-Tam's motion for Bloor to Gerrard, but adding in pedestrian priority areas.

Last, but not least, there is the stretch from Queen to Front Street which has been ignored, yet is critical to complete the connection to the Waterfront. With no parking allowed on that part of Yonge anyway, it would only make sense to convert the two curb lanes to protected bike lanes, as well as upgrade the existing bike lanes from Front to Queen’s Quay.

Nothing has been considered for Yonge from Front to Queen Streets

There are four actions road safety advocates need to call for when e-mailing the Infrastructure and Environment Committee.

  1. Support the recommended design including protected bike lanes and pedestrian priority areas from College to Shuter Streets.
  2. Oppose the recommend design from Shuter to Queen Streets which does nothing to improve the safety of people who bike; instead calling for protected bike lanes.
  3. Support the installation of temporary bike lanes from Bloor to Gerrard Streets, as well as temporary pedestrian priority areas from Gerrard to Shuter Streets. (where feasible)
  4. Support studying protected bike lanes from Queen to Front Streets to complete the connection to the Waterfront, as well as upgrade existing bike lanes south of Front.

The deadline to e-mail the Committee ( is Friday, January 8. Don’t forget to copy Mayor Tory ( and your City Councillor. We need as many people as possible to voice their support for safe cycling on Yonge Street from the Waterfront to Steele!

Happy New Year!


  1. Congratulations on your 200th post. As per usual, this post is laser focused on infrastructure, and very specific advocacy actions. Great job!

  2. May i add that supporting the the staff report of jan 8 will keep this project alive.

  3. I'm sure the staff report will be at its best on the release day of January 8. Consider the importance of having January 11 IEC discussion conclude well.

  4. The Yonge 401 Bypass Trail concept is intriguing.

  5. Congratulations R'LD'Z on number 200 >> and here's to Yonge!