Road Safety at Fleet Street, Bathurst Street, and Lake Shore Boulevard West
The massive five-arm intersection of Bathurst, Lake Shore, and Fleet doesn't work well for anyone. It is a danger and a barrier for pedestrians, it is confusing for drivers and has a high rate of vehicle collisions, and it delays two streetcar lines. This intersection should tie together the three adjacent neighbourhoods – Bathurst Quay, Fort York, and CityPlace – but instead it separates them from one another. Concern about this intersection was one of the most common themes I heard from community members throughout the consultations for the Bathurst Quay Neighbourhood Plan in 2014 and 2015.
We can – and we must – make short term improvements without waiting to pour concrete or undertake major construction work. Planning and investing in our infrastructure to promote the safety of all road users is critical. No number of injuries or deaths on our streets is acceptable.
I am currently working with City staff toward "piloting" the pedestrianization of one block of westbound Fleet Street, between Bathurst Street and Iannuzzi Street, starting this summer. Similar to how the King Street Pilot was first implemented, this can be done with fast and temporary installations, and the pedestrianized space can be enhanced with amenities like seating and planters.
Ultimately, this intersection needs to be completely redesigned and rebuilt. Plans for a completely new intersection were approved as part of the Waterfront Transit Network Plan in 2018, but this work is dependent on funding support from the provincial and federal governments so it may be some years before construction.
Going back to the original designs for the Fort York neighbourhood, this section of Fleet Street was always intended to eventually be closed to vehicles. The block does not provide local vehicular access to the adjacent buildings, there is no parking or loading permitted, it is not a major commuter route, and there are multiple alternatives for access to the local street network.
Pedestrianizing the block of westbound Fleet Street will shorten the crossing distance and time for pedestrians, making it faster, safer, and more comfortable to travel between Fort York, the waterfront, and back. In addition, it will make the intersection much less complex for drivers so there are fewer opportunities for confusion and errors. Reduced driver confusion should mean fewer collisions.
Prior to any final designs being approved or changes being implemented on Fleet Street, City of Toronto staff from Transportation Services and City Planning will be reaching out to all the affected buildings and businesses in the neighbourhood. City staff will be able to share plans, answer questions, and discuss solutions to any issues that are identified. Then, as a "pilot" project, we will be observing how the changes work and coordinating with the local community to make further improvements as needed.
If you have any question or would like to be added to our contact list for future updates about these safety improvements, please email my office at firstname.lastname@example.org