April 30, 2024

Another Avenue Road Tragedy

This afternoon, an e-bike rider was killed at Avenue Road and Elgin Avenue; making it the fourth cyclist killed in Toronto this year. To add insult to injury, this isn’t the first time a cyclist was killed in an area where bike lanes were proposed but never acted upon. The same thing happened to Miguel Joshua Escanan in August 2021 at Avenue and Bloor. Let’s recap where things stand with Avenue Road, as well as demand action to get these safety improvements done urgently.

Two public consultations were held in Spring 2022 and Fall 2023 for the Avenue Road Study. While Phase 1 identified community concerns, Phase 2 saw the preliminary design released. It basically called for protected bike lanes from Bloor to Davenport, while the Davenport to St. Clair stretch focused on pedestrian improvements given the narrow sidewalks there.

There were some people within the cycling community who would have preferred protected bike lanes along the entire Bloor to St. Clair stretch. However, the Avenue Road Safety Coalition prioritized wider sidewalks and there is a risk installing cycle tracks on the entire stretch of Avenue could jeopardize the ones installed on Yonge Street in Summer 2021 from Bloor to Davisville. Since only interim improvements can be done on Avenue at this time, we road safety advocates need to recognize there will be trade offs in the short term and that people who walk deserve to be safe as well given we are all pedestrians at the end of the day.

Originally, the Avenue Road Study was supposed to be debated at the Infrastructure and Environment Committee in late March. Unfortunately, that hasn’t happened and even this week’s meeting will not include it. While I will not make premature assumptions on who is responsible for this delay, this latest death requires us to call on Councillor Dianne Saxe – whose ward includes the crash site – along with the other IEC members, Councillor Josh Matlow, and Mayor Olivia Chow to release the final report and approve a safer Avenue Road as soon as possible.

Below is an open letter I have sent to the parties mentioned. Please adjust for your submission if you live outside of University-Rosedale.

UPDATE 2024/05/01: There will be a memorial ride for the 39-year-old male cyclist killed at Avenue & Elgin on Tuesday, May 7. Meet 6 PM at Bloor & Spadina for 6:30 PM departure.

UPDATE 2024/05/07: Ahead of the memorial ride, Councillor Dianne Saxe confirmed the Avenue Road Study is expected to come up at the May 28 IEC meeting. Here's the write up about the memorial ride for Ali Sezgin Armagan.


TO: councillor_saxe@toronto.ca
CC: councillor_morley@toronto.ca; councillor_mckelvie@toronto.ca; councillor_colle8@toronto.ca; councillor_pasternak@toronto.ca; councillor_perruzza@toronto.ca; councillor_matlow@toronto.ca; mayor_chow@toronto.ca

Dear Councillor Saxe,

It has been brought to my attention that an e-bike rider has been killed this afternoon at Avenue Road and Elgin Avenue; making it the fourth cyclist killed this year. That intersection falls within the Avenue Road Study area which also saw Miguel Joshua Escanan killed at Avenue and Bloor in August 2021. Despite these tragedies, it is still unknown when the Avenue Road Study will be debated at the Infrastructure and Environment Committee and City Council.

The proposed street design – which calls for protected bike lanes between Bloor and Davenport – could have saved that cyclist’s life if they were there, while the study calls for wider sidewalks from Davenport to St. Clair to make it safer for pedestrians. Having walked on Avenue Road in recent years, I can vouch for the narrow sidewalks which can make for a terrifying experience.

Since the crash site lies in your ward, I call on you – as one of your constituents – to do everything possible to ensure the Avenue Road Study gets debated at IEC on an urgent basis. Safety delayed is safety denied and we cannot afford to have any more cyclist and pedestrian deaths on Avenue Road, or anywhere else in Toronto for that matter.

Sincerely yours,
Robert Zaichkowski

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