March 17, 2021

Open Letter on 2021 ActiveTO Proposals

Below is a letter I submitted to the Infrastructure and Environment Committee, Mayor John Tory, and my councillor (Gord Perks) ahead of next Tuesday's committee meeting which will discuss next steps for ActiveTO. The deadline to submit your own comments on Motion IE20.12 (ActiveTO) to iec@toronto.ca (and copy your councillor and Mayor Tory) is Monday, March 22 at 4:30 PM. You can also check out Cycle Toronto's action alert for their own analysis.

ActiveTO on Lake Shore Boulevard West in May 2020

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Greetings, Members of the Infratructure and Environment Committee.

Last year was historic for cycling in Toronto with a net 31 kilometres of on-street bike lanes installed that year, as well as the well received major road closures on Lake Shore Boulevard and Bayview Avenue. While I am pleased with the idea of ActiveTO returning this year, I am disappointed that the proposals do not go far enough for several reasons.

No ActiveTO Closures on Lake Shore West

As someone who lives very close to Lake Shore Boulevard West and High Park, I enjoyed having the eastbound lanes of that major arterial closed to motor vehicles last summer. They finally allowed my partner and I – among 18,000 others every weekend day – to practice physical distancing while getting our exercise along the Waterfront. When the road closures were not in effect, the Martin Goodman Trail gets constantly crowded to a point where we have to wear masks. To not proceed with the flagship ActiveTO route this year because of road construction at the King – Queen – Queensway – Roncesvalles intersection is insulting to people who walk or bike. Given the swift backlash from that decision, I urge that this committee, Mayor Tory, and members of City Council reinstate the Lake Shore Boulevard West weekend closures this summer while exploring other ways to accommodate motorists around the intersection work.

Martin Goodman Trail before the ActiveTO closures began - Note how hard it is to physically distance

I am also disappointed there have not been any other ActiveTO routes proposed outside of the downtown core at this time. Earlier this month, Cycle Toronto proposed several suburban options such as Highway 27 in Etobicoke, Black Creek Drive and Allen Road in North York, and Danforth Avenue and McNicoll Avenue in Scarborough. As a way to expand ActiveTO outside to Toronto’s inner suburbs, the City of Toronto needs to study these options as soon as possible for implementation this summer.

Yonge Limited to Davisville

Yonge in Midtown is expected to have protected bike lanes and CaféTO patios such as on Destination Danforth

Last fall’s motion to study bike lanes on Yonge Street from Bloor Street to Lawrence Avenue was welcome news for those who bike in Midtown Toronto. Upon reading this motion, I am pleased to see that it will include CaféTO patios which helped make Destination Danforth a big success last year. However, I was disappointed to find out it would only go as far north as Davisville Avenue. While I understand there are construction constraints with the Eglinton Crosstown LRT and that Davisville would make for an easy connection to the Beltline Trail, the City of Toronto needs to explore extending the Yonge bike lanes north to Lawrence in 2022 after the LRT work has been done.

Limited ActiveTO Scope for 2021

Aside from Yonge, I noticed the only other ActiveTO cycling proposal is a multi-use trail along Bayview Avenue from River Street to Mill Street. The trail will provide a much needed detour for users of the Lower Don Trail while it is closed this year. However, having less than five kilometres for this year’s ActiveTO cycling program is not good enough. The motion also does not include anything for Overlea Boulevard nor Avenue Road from Bloor to Dupont; both of which were labelled as “under consideration” when the May 2020 ActiveTO motion was brought forward. The City of Toronto needs to stop delaying road safety improvements on Overlea and Avenue and include them for this year’s ActiveTO program.

Map of this year's proposed bike lane installations and upgrades (Via Cycle Toronto)

As with last year, Etobicoke ends up getting nothing meaningful except for upgrading an existing bike lane on Birmingham and adding a short stretch of bike lane on The Kingsway near Dundas per Motion IE20.13. Two ActiveTO projects I would suggest be included for Etobicoke include extending the Bloor bike lanes from Runnymede to Six Points (Kipling) and the Better Dundas Coalition’s proposal for a complete street on Dundas from Islington to the Humber River (or Scarlett Road).

Time to Be Bold

While last year’s pace of bike lane installations may have been historic for Toronto, it was the pace the City needed to have maintained each year for the ten year Cycling Network Plan which was approved in June 2016. This year’s proposals for ActiveTO and general cycling projects per Motion IE20.13 do not go far enough in maintaining that pace. Toronto needs to be bold with this year’s plans by including projects “under consideration” such as Overlea and Avenue, reinstating the Lake Shore Boulevard West ActiveTO closures, and providing meaningful road safety improvements for Etobicoke.

I thank you for taking these thoughts into consideration and feel free to let me know if you have any questions.

Sincerely yours,

Robert Zaichkowski, CPA, CMA


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