A City of Toronto staff report scheduled for consideration by City Council later this week proposes that key parts of the cycling network be expanded, through accelerated installation of routes in the council-approved Cycling Network Plan, as part of the ActiveTO program.
During the April 30 Toronto City Council meeting, staff were requested to look at more active transportation as a crucial part of the city’s COVID-19 restart and recovery and in anticipation of changes in traffic patterns.
The report released today asks Council to approve the installation of approximately 25 kilometres of new bikeways, for a total of approximately 40 kilometres of on-street cycling lanes approved for accelerated installation in 2020. View the full Cycling Network Plan Installations: Bloor West Bikeway Extension & ActiveTO Projects report at app.toronto.ca/tmmis/viewAgendaItemHistory.do?item=2020.CC21.20.
An expanded cycling network aims to allow people on bikes to move around Toronto safely, to better connect those on bikes to the places they need to go, and to mirror major transit routes. The proposed plan includes flexibility so that bikeway installations can be adjusted based on considerations such as changing traffic volumes, and the evolving needs of residents and businesses in the wake of the pandemic.
If approved, the cycling network would be expanded quickly through temporary installations by repurposing curb lanes along several key corridors. Bloor Street East, University Avenue/Queen’s Park Crescent and Dundas Street East would be among the first installations. The report also addresses other gaps in the network including locations in North York and Scarborough and includes acceleration of the Bloor West Bikeway Extension. As part of the City’s focus on main street revitalization in the wake of COVID-19, the City is also proposing to create more public space and patios, make a more beautiful street, and pilot active transportation infrastructure on the Danforth from Broadview Avenue
to Dawes Road. Delivery of other Council-approved 2020 Cycling Network implementation projects will continue but be on an accelerated scheduled, including the Bloor West Bikeway Extension. Learn more at toronto.ca/bloorwestbikeway.
Most of the ActiveTO proposed initiatives aimed at expanding the cycling network are quick-start installations using temporary barricades and include minimal change to the existing street design. A more transformational Complete Streets approach has been proposed for Danforth Avenue in order to support the main street character and local economy, and in keeping with the objectives of the Danforth Study that’s currently underway. More about the study at toronto.ca/danforthstudy.
While vehicle traffic volumes are currently very low, City traffic data shows that a significant number of people have continued to rely on cycling as an important transportation choice over the past several weeks. The data also suggests that many people are choosing cycling instead of riding transit, and typically cycling volumes in Toronto increase as temperatures warm up.
The ActiveTO program was developed by Toronto Public Health and Transportation Services to provide more space for people to be physically active and improve physical distancing as part of the City’s restart and recovery in the wake of COVID-19.
Other programs as part of ActiveTO include major weekend road closures along City trails to make space for people, alleviate weekend and holiday crowding, and ensure there is room to be physically active and respect physical distancing. ActiveTO also includes a plan for more than 50 kilometres of Quiet Streets currently being planned or installed around the city. Quiet Streets are neighbourhood streets that are shared space for people, bikes and slow moving, local vehicle traffic.
“ActiveTO is a quick-start, common-sense program that is creating more safe space for cyclists and pedestrians all around Toronto. Accelerating our cycling network and creating temporary lanes that make safer, more connected routes for people on bikes will be a key part of our city’s restart and recovery plans. Well-planned cycling routes, including along subway lines, will provide a much-needed relief valve for the transit system, supports Toronto’s Vision Zero Road Safety plan, and allows people to be physically active while respecting physical distancing guidelines,” said Toronto Mayor John Tory.
While the City of Toronto remains focused on fighting COVID-19 and continuing to provide the essential and critical services that residents and businesses rely on, the City is also looking ahead to the restart and recovery period.
The CurbTO program continues to immediately address locations where there is sidewalk crowding and temporary parking concerns around businesses. More businesses are opening and offering pick-up, take-out and delivery services and have created store access line-ups to maintain physical distancing requirements, as recommended by Toronto Public Health.
So far, the City has installed 79 CurbTO pedestrian zones and temporary pickup zones, and widened three sidewalks for space. There have been more than 260 requests city-wide for zones by Councillors, BIAs, Community Agencies and businesses. Details about CurbTO, including a map, as well as links to the business application are at toronto.ca/curbTO.
More information and details about ActiveTO are available at toronto.ca/activeTO.