Toronto approves 40 km of expanded and accelerated bike routes

May 28 2020, 8:14 pm

City Council approved expanding and accelerating a total of 40 km of Toronto’s cycling network as part of the ActiveTO program.

On Thursday, the City approved of the initiative which includes approximately 25 kilometres of new bikeways along with the final approval and acceleration of 15 km of cycling routes, previously planned for this year, for a total of approximately 40 km of new on-street cycling lanes to be installed during 2020.

The ActiveTO cycling network plan – the largest expansion of Toronto’s on-street bike network ever in one year — was approved in a final vote of 23 to two.

“Connected bike routes, all of which were identified and approved from the Cycling Network Plan, will give people options and supplement subway lines to create an important relief valve for the transit system in the wake of COVID-19,” Mayor John Tory said.

“Bike lanes also support Toronto’s Vision Zero Road Safety plan, help safely get our frontline healthcare workers where they need to be, and allow people to be physically active while respecting physical distancing guidelines.

“Safe cycling lanes in Toronto and cities around the world are viewed as a critical part of COVID-19 restart and recovery planning.”

According to the City, 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 to provide a safety valve for the TTC during a coronavirus restart and recovery.

“The proposed plan includes flexibility so that the 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,” the statement said.

The cycling network will 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 approved work also addresses other gaps in the network including locations in North York and Scarborough and includes acceleration of the Bloor West Bikeway Extension, as well as streetscape improvements and temporary bike lanes on Danforth Avenue.

Delivery of other Council-approved 2020 Cycling Network implementation projects will continue, but will be on an accelerated schedule, including the Bloor West Bikeway Extension.

Most of the ActiveTO bikeway initiatives are quick-start installations using temporary barricades and include minimal changes to existing street design.

As part of the City’s focus on main street revitalization in the wake of the pandemic, the City will also create more public space and patios, while making a “more beautiful street and pilot active transportation infrastructure” on Danforth Avenue, from Broadview Avenue to Dawes Road.

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.

At the April 30 City Council meeting, staff were requested to look at more active transportation as a crucial part of the City’s restart and recovery plan and in anticipation of changes in traffic patterns.

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 the coronavirus.

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.

The program also includes a plan for more than 50 km of Quiet Streets 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.

Clarrie FeinsteinClarrie Feinstein

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