Toronto City Council approves 40 km of expanded and accelerated bike routes for ActiveTO

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

This initiative includes approximately 25 kilometres of new bikeways along with the final approval and acceleration of 15-kilomtres of cycling routes previously planned for this year, for a total of approximately 40 kilometres of new on-street cycling lanes in 2020 to be installed.

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 2.

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 the COVID-19 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 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 scheduled, including the Bloor West Bikeway Extension. Learn more at http://www.toronto.ca/bloorwestbikeway.

Most of the ActiveTO bikeway initiatives are quick-start installations using temporary barricades and include minimal change to the existing street design. As part of the City’s focus on main street revitalization in the wake of COVID-19, the City will also create more public space and patios, make a more beautiful street and pilot active transportation infrastructure on Danforth Avenue, from Broadview Avenue to Dawes Road. A Complete Streets approach will support the main street character and local economy and is in keeping with the objectives of the Danforth Study that’s currently underway. More about the study at http://www.toronto.ca/danforthstudy.

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 COVID-19 restart and recovery 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 COVID-19.

The full Cycling Network Plan Installations: Bloor West Bikeway Extension & ActiveTO Projects report is available at http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis/viewAgendaItemHistory.do?item=2020.CC21.20

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. ActiveTO also includes a plan for more than 50 kilometres 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.

More information and details about ActiveTO are available at http://www.toronto.ca/activeTO.

The CurbTO program continues to immediately address locations where there is sidewalk crowding and temporary parking concerns around businesses. More businesses are opening and offering pick-up, take-out and delivery services and have created store access line-ups to maintain physical distancing requirements, as recommended by Toronto Public Health.

So far, the City has installed 94 CurbTO pedestrian zones and temporary pickup zones, and widened three sidewalks for space. There have been more than 300 requests city-wide for zones by Councillors, BIAs, Community Agencies and businesses. Details about CurbTO, including a map and links to the business application are at http://www.toronto.ca/curbTO.

While the City of Toronto remains focused on fighting COVID-19 and continuing to provide the essential and critical services that residents and businesses rely on, the City is also looking ahead to the restart and recovery period.

Quotes:

“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. 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.”

– Mayor John Tory

“Our goal is to provide safe alternative commuting options. This plan provides for that. Re-purposing our roadways with a lens on all modes of transportation and mobility options through ActiveTO, including more cycling lanes, supports Toronto’s Vision Zero road safety plan and will help us move closer to restart and recovery as a city. These routes will be installed sooner and give Toronto a safe, more connected network sooner than we’d originally planned.”

– Councillor James Pasternak (Ward 6 York Centre), Chair of the Infrastructure and Environment Committee