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.
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.
More information and details about ActiveTO are available at toronto.ca/activeTO.
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.
“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.” - Mayor John Tory
“ActiveTO is a comprehensive program that is helping repurpose and plan our roadways for all modes of transportation and mobility options. It supports Toronto’s Vision Zero road safety plan and is an important piece of the city’s restart and recovery efforts. Adding a new, temporary bike lane on Wilmington Avenue/Faywood Boulevard for the residents of Ward 6 will help keep people moving, connected, and safe." - Councillor James Pasternak (Ward 6 York Centre), Chair of the Infrastructure and Environment Committee
“Increasing opportunities for daily physical activity has a positive impact on our physical and our mental health, and can significantly reduce our risk of a number of chronic and cardiovascular diseases, and some cancers. I’m so pleased to see more space being created through ActiveTO so our residents can get outside to exercise more safely. Active transportation is more significant than ever as a result of COVID-19 and whether you walk, jog or cycle, I encourage everyone to take advantage of these opportunities while the weather is nice in our great city.” - Dr. Eileen de Villa, Medical Officer of Health
“The Bloor Street West bikeway extension has been underway for some time. The timing to move it along couldn’t be better as we all begin to head towards the next stages of recovery and beating COVID-19. Finishing the bikeway sooner means safer bike lanes and more choice for people who are travelling outside.” - Councillor Gord Perks (Ward 4 Parkdale-High Park)
“Accelerating the Bloor Street West bikeway extension is exciting for our community and will make for safer, more connected routes. It will give people more choice in how they move about following many long weeks of being asked to stay at home, and will help people respect physical distancing.” - Deputy Mayor Ana Bailão (Ward 9 Davenport)
“From London to New York to Mexico City, cities are taking action to make it easier and safer to cycle, in order to provide for safe physical distancing. Building a bike lane along University Avenue means that the front-line workers in hospitals, medical clinics, and doctor’s offices can get to work each day safely. It also means that people who live in our community will have a real alternative to driving or the TTC – freeing up space so that those who need it can safely physical distance on our subways, streetcars, and busses.” - Councillor Joe Cressy (Ward 10 Spadina-Fort York)
“We know how to make our roads safe for cyclists. We know that we need to build an expanded, city-wide grid of protected bike lanes, so that people can get to work and across the city without fear. Along with community groups and local residents, we have been advocating for a protected bike lane along these routes for some time. Now, it’s clearer than ever that we need to act – not just to protect cyclists, but to facilitate physical distancing and reduce virus transmission.” - Councillor Mike Layton (Wad 11 University-Rosedale)
“Now, more than ever, it is necessary that we accelerate the installation of critical cycling infrastructure for active transportation while maintaining safe physical distance. What COVID-19 has shown us is that we need to rethink our priorities around how we design public infrastructure to support long-term recovery. We have known for years that an expanded, city-wide grid of protected bike lanes is important for achieving positive environmental, safety, and health outcomes. The global pandemic has provided the urgent public health context needed to drive this work forward, without further excuses or political delays.” - Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam (Ward 13 Toronto Centre)
“We are renewing our complete streets lens on Danforth Avenue. As people begin to go outside more and more businesses open up, it is an opportunity to envision a safer and more beautiful street, that’s well planned, supports the many vibrant retail shops and connects residents across the city.” - Councillor Paula Fletcher (Ward 14 Toronto-Danforth)
“The Danforth corridor is full of families, businesses and many people who choose cycling. More cycling routes will help take pressure away from our transit lines and give local communities safe, convenient alternatives for visiting the Danforth. We're slowly headed toward a new normal. We're going to need safe, connected cycling routes in the east end for the recovery now and into the future.” - Councillor Brad Bradford (Ward 19 Beaches East-York)
“Bike lanes on Huntingwood Drive have been something that I have been working on with my residents for over a year. This gives people about five kilometres of safe east-west cycling through Scarborough. Residents have expressed their confidence and will enjoy using it, especially to get outside more often this summer.” - Councillor Jim Karygiannis (Ward 22 Scarborough-Agincourt)
“Brimley Road is an ideal place to establish a safe cycling route as we move forward with our efforts toward restarting and recovery. It connects to several beautiful parks and trails in our community, and provides an important link to the city’s larger cycling network.” - Deputy Mayor Michael Thompson (Ward 21 Scarborough Centre)
“We’re delighted that, under City Council’s leadership, Toronto will expand its network of complete streets, including bike lanes. These lanes will be popular with residents and help us meet our climate targets. They’ll also boost small business, making it easier for many folks to shop and eat local.” - Gideon Forman, Climate Change and Transportation Policy Analyst, The David Suzuki Foundation