ActiveTO Program Opens Streets for Physical Distancing in Ward 10

Spring is here, and with warm weather comes an increasing need to be outdoors. As we start to transition towards a gradual recovery and restart, it’s crucial that public health is at the centre of every step.

Our Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa has confirmed that spending time outside is important for our mental and physical health, provided we can do so safely by keeping our physical distance of two metres (six feet) from others. Switching to new ways of getting around — for example, walking and cycling, rather than taking public transit for short trips — can also help to reduce congestion and open up more space for physical distancing. But in order for this to happen, we must increase space on our streets and sidewalks so that people can commute, exercise, and enjoy the outdoors safely. 

Opening Lake Shore West and Bayview for Pedestrians and Cyclists 

Earlier this month, the City announced the new ActiveTO program to create more space for pedestrians, cyclists, and others on our roads. The first phases were shared today.

Beginning this Victoria Day weekend, all eastbound lanes of Lake Shore Boulevard West from Stadium Road to Windermere Avenue will be opened to people on foot, on bikes, and all other non-vehicular traffic. The lanes will be closed to cars and other motor vehicles. Similarly, Bayview Avenue will also be opened to people north of Mill Street to Rosedale Valley Road. 

These measures will repeat each weekend going forward, throughout the spring and summer months, making more space for people who are walking, cycling, exercising, and using mobility devices, and to alleviate congestion and increase space along the Martin Goodman Trail and the Lower Don Trail. 

City staff are actively investigating options for other well-known locations for crowding including Queens Quay and Lake Shore Boulevard East parallel to the central segment of the Martin Goodman Trail. Due to the density and complexity of areas like this, more work is necessary up front before making any changes. But the need for more space for physical distancing is clearly recognized and I expect more information to be shared next week.

Traffic Calming Measures on Quiet Streets 

In addition, Toronto Public Health and Transportation Services have recommended that two streets in our Ward 10 community be prioritized for the Quiet Streets initiative: Crawford Street, and The Esplanade. As Quiet Streets, these two roads will see traffic calming measures in order to reduce and slow vehicular traffic, make more comfortable space for pedestrians and cyclists, while still allowing local traffic. This means that signage and temporary barricades at intersections will be installed on Crawford Street and The Esplanade, to slow traffic and encourage only local vehicle access. The Quiet Streets initiative will not impact access for emergency vehicles or parking and drop off areas.  

Today’s ActiveTO announcements are a first step in creating safer streets and sidewalks for everyone in our community. However, we know that much more needs to be done. As our city starts to open back up, more people will need to be able to get where they need to go each day ⁠— and get there safely. 

That means we need to create more sidewalk space for pedestrians and people using mobility devices, and commit to building an expanded, inter-connected system of bike lanes and cycling infrastructure. We need to shift our focus from designing our streets and public spaces around cars, and start designing them for all road users. Proposals are currently underway on these areas, and I will continue to advocate for changes that make our streets safe and accessible for everyone.

Please do not hesitate to let me know about streets in our community that you think would benefit from being designated as Quiet Streets or should be closed to vehicles on weekends. My office will work with you, as always, to make our streets safe and healthy places for everyone. Please email me at [email protected] with suggestions and ideas.