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‘Confusing,’ ‘dangerous’ downtown Toronto street permanently closes to drivers

Click to play video: 'Downtown Toronto street to close for pedestrian safety'
Downtown Toronto street to close for pedestrian safety
WATCH ABOVE: Change is coming to a downtown Toronto neighbourhood. Beginning Monday, a portion of Fleet Street will be closed off to traffic and will only allow pedestrians and cyclists. It's part of the city's Vision Zero plan to reduce traffic-related deaths. Albert Delitala reports – Nov 24, 2019

A section of a downtown Toronto street long considered dangerous and confusing to pedestrians and drivers has permanently closed to vehicles.

Starting Monday, the westbound stretch of Fleet Street between Bathurst and Iannuzzi Street will only be accessible to pedestrians and cyclists, a move intended to improve pedestrian safety.

“We literally see people just, like, driving on the streetcar lane,” said Jess Faraone, who lives in the area and supports the plan.

Rasheida Craig, who lives nearby, said drivers at the intersection often don’t follow the rules of the road, such as obeying the traffic lights.

“With less congestion, less traffic, I think people will be protected,” she said.

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Joe Cressy, the city councillor for Spadina-Fort York, told Global News the city has long considered the five-arm Fleet-Bathurst-Lake Shore intersection to be problematic for cyclists, pedestrians and drivers, making the partial closure of Fleet a win for everyone.

“By closing off Fleet Street, you’re making the distance pedestrians have to walk to cross the street shorter to make it safer for them.”

“But at the same time, you’re making it clearer for drivers who are currently turning into the wrong lanes all the time.”

Cressy said the move is part of Vision Zero, the city’s multi-year effort to reduce traffic-related injuries and deaths.

“Bathurst and Lakeshore is the next critical step for Vision Zero to make sure that it’s safer for pedestrians, cyclists and for drivers too,” he said.

The closure of Fleet Street aligns with a long-term plan to redesign the intersection and create a new “public realm” space, according to the city.

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