Leslie Street Safety Audit - Comments and Ideas Welcomed

A Safety Audit Walking tour of Leslie Street organized by SoDa Bikes, SET BUG and The South Riverdale Community Health Centre took place on Saturday, November 20. Leslie Street is the proposed connecting route to Queen Street for the new streetcars (LRVs) and as a result will be undergoing redesign and construction. This presents an opportunity to enhance many elements including the safety and streetscape. It is also the gateway to Tommy Thompson Park more commonly known as The Spit which is one of North America's largest urban wilderness areas.

The tour was intended to begin a conversation on how the TTC, City and community can pool their collective resources and wisdom to ensure Leslie is made physically safer for our most vulnerable road users.

A map of the route, and some proposed solutions can be seen on the Tour Map (PDF)

The Aim

1. To see firsthand how the area functions as a local destination for shopping and for recreational trails.

2. To discuss safety issues and improvements on Leslie – changes that would improve safety for pedestrians (especially seniors and children), people with disabilities and cyclists.

The Tour Route

The group went from Lakeshore Blvd. up the west side of Leslie to Queen St. E. and back down the east side of Leslie.

Approximately 18 people attended the tour including:

  • Ward 30 Councillor Paula Fletcher
  • Ward 32 Councillor Elect Mary Margaret McMahon
  • Residents on or near Leslie
  • Cycling Pedestrian advocacy groups (South Riverdale Bicycle User Group & SoDa Bikes)
  • City of Toronto Office of the Public Realm – Pedestrian Design
  • City of Toronto – Transportation Services
  • Toronto Transit Commission (Leslie St. Maintenance Barns Project Managers and design consultants)
  • South Riverdale Community Health Centre
Paul Young, health promoter and landscape architect from the South Riverdale Community Health Centre cited a few statistics about how people move around in Toronto.

For example:

  • Approximately half the people in Toronto do not have access to a car (they take transit, walk or bike)
  • On average 6 – 7 pedestrians are hit daily in Toronto, ½ of all traffic related fatalities are pedestrians (Toronto Star).
  • Over ½ people in Toronto are cyclists, of these ½ of these use their bikes for practical purposes  such as shopping, work, school, etc.( 2009 Toronto Cycling Survey).
  • The intersections and driveway entries feel dangerous and dominated by car and truck movements.  As a pedestrian or cyclist one feels out of place and in danger of being hit.
  • Local foot and cycling traffic is mixed with regional car commuters and truck traffic without much physical separation. The car-oriented retail compounds the problem with large parking lots and few pedestrian / cycling routes.
  • Statistically intersections and driveway crossings are where pedestrians or cyclists are most likely to be hit. All the intersections on Leslie south of Queen feel dangerous.
  • Cyclists (especially young people) often use the sidewalks - most commonly on weekends.
  • Leslie St. sidewalks are dark at night in certain places. The back-lotted town houses make the sidewalk feel like a back lane, unwatched and unsafe.
  • Drivers do not seem to respect pedestrians or cyclists (esp. at crossing points).
  • Connections between the sidewalk and the store entries are difficult on foot and especially difficult in a wheelchair. For example, there is no clear route for pedestrians to access Loblaws from Eastern and Leslie. The Tim Hortons entry for pedestrians is dangerous and not accessible. There are few cycling connections between the existing bike lanes (on Eastern, Dundas and Lakeshore) to the stores.
  • There is significant flooding at the entrance of the building at north west corner of Eastern and Leslie (covers the sidewalk and bottom steps going to the building). This area needs to be raised and / or catch basin re-located.
Possible solutions:
  • Could Leslie become a “green way” connecting people to the lake – as Vancouver is doing?
  • There were discussions about designing the section between Eastern and Queen with permanent parking and/or a widened sidewalk. Car volumes would need to be considered but peak commuter volumes seem to use Eastern.
  • Some pedestrian signals could be adjusted to provide better conditions for pedestrians (i.e. at Loblaws / Price Chopper intersection).  Bright pavement markings might help (“zebra crossings”) where sidewalks cross intersections.
  • Toronto Hydro will come out if requested, to do a review of lighting levels.
  • Re-grade area at north west corner of Leslie and Eastern Ave.
  • There may be an opportunity (depending on Loblaw’s future plans) to create a pedestrian and cycling connection along the east side of Leslie between Lakeshore Blvd. and Eastern Ave. This would require a discussion with the City of Toronto area planner and the property owner / tenant about feasibility and cost/benefit.
  • Other opportunities may exist to improve conditions on Leslie (i.e. sidewalks, trees, lighting) if any new developments are planned. This too would require a meeting with the area planner.
  • Perhaps car and truck traffic could be re-routed onto Lakeshore Blvd rather than Leslie.
  • Perhaps a shared pedestrian / cycling facility could be introduced along one side of Leslie.
  • Speed control: perhaps some intersections could have raised crossings (i.e. similar to Esplanade and Market St.)
  • A contra-flow bike lane on Leslie north of Queen could connect Eastern bike lanes up to the Dundas E. bicycle lanes.
Next Steps

Councillors Fletcher and McMahon will post information from the tour and will collect comments from others interested in the issue.

Send ideas to:

Ward 32 Councillor Elect Mary Margaret McMahon – [email protected]

Ward 30 Councillor Paula Fletcher [email protected]

It was suggested that the TTC design team will correspond with participants through the Councillors regarding design options.

It was suggested that the Councillors meet with the Area Planner(s) to review options for the Loblaw’s site frontage (and any other new development opportunities)

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