Weekend closures of Lake Shore West for running, biking may not happen in 2021

Mar 16 2021, 8:40 am

Torontonians who enjoyed spending their weekends running and cycling down Lake Shore Boulevard West last year, thanks to its weekly closures, may not have the chance to do so again in 2021.

A new City report being considered by Council’s Infrastructure and Environment Committee details the City staff’s recommendations for this year’s ActiveTO plan. It notably advises against closing off the westbound lanes on Lake Shore West due to traffic delays it caused for cars last year.

“The Lake Shore Boulevard West major road closures were highly used by people walking, running and cycling in 2020, but also resulted in motor vehicle traffic delay, particularly on the Gardiner Expressway and The Queensway,” the report reads.

There are also a few major construction projects in the area that are currently underway and will still be ongoing when the weather gets warmer. This included construction along Roncesvalles Avenue at the intersections of King West, Queen West, and the Queensway that is expected to go until 2022. These intersections will be closed except for limited east-west access at King or Queen, making Lake Shore West one of the next closest east-west roads in the area.

“As a result, recurring weekend closures of Lake Shore Boulevard West likely cannot be accommodated in 2021/2022,” the report reads.

The report, however, does say that data on summer traffic volumes will be monitored to further inform whether closure of Lake Shore West could be accommodated.

The Quiet Streets program, which was implemented last year, is also not being recommended again for 2021. The program, implemented along 65 km of streets throughout the city in the early stages of the pandemic, used signs, traffic barrels, and concrete blocks to maintain physical distance for people walking and cycling on the streets.

Now that people have established new norms and wear face masks, Quiet Streets is no longer needed.

Even though the Lake Shore West closures and Quiet Streets aren’t likely to go ahead, other parts of last year’s ActiveTO plan are still being recommended, including a continued expansion of the city’s cycling network — something the report says was extremely popular last year.

“This report shows that ActiveTO was a tremendous success in 2020, and City staff are confident that we can build upon that success this year,” Mayor John Tory said in a statement. “While planning work is continuing around the 2021 program, I think this report shows we are doing everything we can as a City government to support more active transportation options.”

A street pilot program along Yonge Street between Bloor and Davisville is also being recommended. This would be similar to a pilot program seen on Danforth Avenue last year and could include changes such as streetscape improvements, on-street patios, bike lanes, and safety improvements.

The report will be considered by the Infrastructure and Environment Committee on March 23 before going to Council on April 7.

Laura HanrahanLaura Hanrahan

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