Toronto to expand public space for pedestrians, cyclists, and transit riders

May 7 2020, 11:13 am

The City of Toronto is creating more space for pedestrians, cyclists, and transit riders to allow for better physical distancing measures as certain businesses begin to reopen and warmer weather arrives.

On Wednesday, Mayor John Tory and Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa, acknowledged that people cannot stay at home forever and will need to go outside as long as they keep their distance from others.

The new ActiveTO program, developed by Toronto Public Health and Transportation Services, is looking at how the City can protect livelihoods, while economic recovery plans take shape.

“Our streets are going to look different in many places in the post-COVID world. We will need more road space for walking. We will need quiet streets. We will need more bike infrastructure,” Mayor John Tory said in a statement.

“We are going about this in a responsible, common sense way with Toronto Public Health, Transportation Services and local councillors all involved in making common sense, health-focused decisions which broaden out our transportation network.”

For Tory, keeping the three million residents safe as Ontario reopens all retail stores with street access on May 11, will be top priority.

50 km of quiet streets

The program will create 50 kilometres of quiet streets, which will be local routes with “traffic calming measures” that will only enable local car traffic and open up space for pedestrians and cyclists.

According to the City, the project will roll out “fairly quickly.”

Closing off major streets

Some major roads adjacent to major trails or recreational attractions, where crowding on weekends and holidays has occurred, will be closed.

These would include some locations with complete closures to all car traffic and would be delivered through recurring short-term road closures, like on weekends.

“When this happens, on a trial basis, staff will be monitoring adjacent routes with real-time data and will make adjustments as necessary,” the city said.

The cycling network gets bigger

The city will create more bike lanes to help people move around the public spaces as the economic restart begins.

This plan would see the cycling network expanded and temporary active transportation lanes installed.

The City will also expand and accelerate “key parts of the council-approved Cycling Network Plan, that connect the cycling network, as well as bikeways that mirror major TTC routes.”

This new program is in addition to the city’s CurbTO plan, which aims to target 100 curbside pick-up locations to stop pedestrians from overcrowding as they wait to pick up takeout or other essential items during the pandemic — 20 locations have already been targeted, with the another 80 under development.