City of Toronto staff recommend return of ActiveTO weekend road closures, end of quiet streets program

Click to play video: '25 km of new cycle infrastructure proposed in Toronto as part of ActiveTO initiative' 25 km of new cycle infrastructure proposed in Toronto as part of ActiveTO initiative
WATCH ABOVE: A report released on Monday is proposing an additional 25 kilometres of bikeways across parts of Toronto as part of the ActiveTO initiative. Erica Vella has more. – May 25, 2020

City of Toronto staff are recommending the return of ActiveTO weekend road closures and other initiatives aimed at making local streets more pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly.

ActiveTO was first introduced in May in response to COVID-19 and the push to create more opportunities for people to get exercise while increasing the amount of space for physical distancing.

The report, which will be considered by the infrastructure and environment committee on March 23, advocated for the return of the major closures throughout the upcoming year.

While specific dates and locations need to be finalized, officials said those closures will depend on the feedback from councillors and construction coordination.

Read more: Report put forward for Toronto to approve 25km of new bikeways

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In 2020, there were 25 consecutive weekend closures between May and October that mostly occurred on portions of Lake Shore Boulevard and Bayview Avenue. Staff noted those same roads would likely be the subject of closures in 2021.

Looking specifically at when Lake Shore Boulevard West was closed for ActiveTO, staff noted there were delays on the Gardiner Expressway and The Queensway.

With construction at the Roncesvalles Avenue-King Street West-Queen Street West-The Queensway intersection, officials said it’s unlikely Lake Shore Boulevard West will be able to close while the construction project is ongoing.

City staff said of the ActiveTO participants polled in a survey, 92 per cent said they wanted the closures to continue during and after COVID-19 and 75 per cent reported being more active. The survey results identified new cyclists and those returning to cycling included more women and more people from Toronto’s BIPOC community.

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Meanwhile, as part of a complete street pilot project, officials recommended a temporary cycling network connection on Yonge Street between Bloor Street and Davisville Avenue.

They also recommended extending, on a temporary basis, the Bayview Avenue cycling corridor south to Mill Street from River Street, The northern end is currently Rosedale Valley Road.

The 2020 ActiveTO program instituted the quiet streets program, which saw 30 locations and 65 km of roads outfitted with temporary signage and barricades in an effort to promote shared road use and slow vehicular traffic.

Read more: ActiveTO turns several major Toronto streets to pedestrians and cyclists

While the report said roughly 60 per cent of ActiveTO survey respondents made local roads feel safer, it said it’s not anticipated the program will be needed in 2021.

“Since the time that quiet streets were introduced, people have established new norms and behaviours for sharing roads and sidewalks to enable physical distancing and mitigate risk while using the street (e.g. wearing a mask),” the report said.

“It should also be noted that several 2020 quiet street routes are in the City’s near-term cycling network plan and are intended to be redesigned to make cycling and walking safer and easier, and often involve design elements that reduce speed and vehicular traffic infiltration.”


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