February Advocacy Updates

February Advocacy Updates

We may not have had much sun in January, but February brought with it both sun and good news for people who advocate for a more vibrant biking city with safer streets.

City Council Meetings

For the first time in 2024, City Council voted unanimously in favour of adopting improvements to  the Administrative Penalty System for Red Light Camera and Automated Speed Enforcement (ASE) Violations. This is a very strong indication that road safety is increasingly being seen as a priority as the city works to implement technological innovations to enforce the dangerous driver behaviour that plagues our streets.

The 2024 first quarter cycling network upgrades of the year were first approved at the first IEC of the year and were voted overwhelmingly in favour by the majority of Council on February 6. Additionally, Councillor McKelvie noted that it was the shortest debate on bike lanes. Only Councillor Holyday voted against the item. Read more to learn about the projects that have been approved.

Councillor Saxe’s item on doing a better job maintaining Bike Lanes That Are Safe and Passable for Bikes Year Round, including all painted bikeways and busy contraflows like Shaw St., was passed with just Councillor Holyday voting against. This is great news for future snowy winters that will see bike lanes cleared of snow to bare pavement. Unless this happens, it is not safe and passable for people riding bikes or other forms of micro mobility. 

The final item on the agenda was an update on Bike Share Toronto's Modernized Rate Structure Update. The Bike Share payment structure modernization item passed, with council recommending to authorize providing Bike Share's Reduced Fare Memberships to eligible Fair Pass Program clients. Fair Pass is a program that provides discounted TTC passes to low-income residents.

Construction at Dufferin and Bloor

We will continue to advocate for consistent and systematic safety around construction zones by maintaining safe passage for people who bike should existing cycling infrastructure be impacted by construction. In this instance, we were able to ensure that the developer would consult and communicate all construction, parking and road occupancy impacts with local Business Improvement Areas, resident associations, other impacted wards along the Bloor Street bikeway, as well as ensure that updates to wayfinding be provided in advance of any physical road modifications. Additionally, appropriate signage and converging mirrors will be implemented to improve the safety of people who find themselves having to merge with motorists. We were also pleased that Transportation Services were directed by Council to monitor the movements of people cycling around the construction staging area at the intersection of Bloor Street West and Dufferin Street, and provide monthly updates on cyclist safety assessments and photographs of site conditions and traffic controls, to the Ward Councillor to ensure the safety of all road users is not being compromised.

(A cyclist rides through the Bloor and Dufferin intersection.)

Exhibition Place Board of Governors Meetings

We are pleased that the Board of Governors for Exhibition Place approved the recommendation to complete a Phase 2 feasibility study before directing WSP to complete design work that will shape the future of the Exhibition grounds. We want to see it as a destination for people to use year round, and not just during the Indy, Winter Fair or the CNE. It must be integrated into the surrounding active transportation network that includes TTC and GO stations, the future Ontario Line, the Martin Goodman Trail and Cycling Network Plan. Along with High Park, Exhibition Place is one of the most popular places for people to ride their bikes. The ActiveTO road closure in 2021 demonstrated its potential as a place for people to gather and enjoy recreational activities.

The 2024 Budget

Mayor’s Chow first budget was adopted and includes a mix of good news and bad news for the cycling community. The good news includes a year over year increase of 55% in funds for implementing the Cycling Network Plan ($31 million for 2024 vs. $20 million in 2023). This bodes well for the implementation of the 100 km of new cycling infrastructure outlined in the 2022-2024 Cycling Network Plan which hinges on the successful implementation of the Eglinton Complete Street, a 19 km stretch between Keele St. and Kennedy Ave., that will support the Eglinton LRT (an opening date is yet to be announced). Another key project that we are all anxiously waiting for is the Danforth - Kingston Complete Street Extension which represents 10 km that will give people a safe cycling route from Scarborough all the way to Etobicoke et eventually Mississauga.


(An infographic showing an increase in cycling infrastructure funding in 2024’s budget.)

On the bad news, many of us were very disappointed that the Mayor and City Council gave the Toronto Police the $20 million budget increase they advocated for in a very public campaign. Until the city has oversight in how the Toronto Police deploy their resources, there are very real concerns that, emboldened by their cash windfall, they will increase their targeting of cyclists or other vulnerable road users such as food delivery couriers instead. Just this past week we were shocked by an outrageous situation that saw a Toronto Police officer drive his SUV into a pedestrian while making a left turn and then subsequently denying the nature of the collision, stating that it is not a collision under the Highway Traffic Act and then retracting their previous comments. We are very thankful for Dave Shellnut, The Biking Lawyer and member of the Cycle Toronto Board for his ongoing advocacy and work holding the police accountable for their actions.

Parkside Drive Study

On February 1st, there was an in-person public consultation on this project, which is linked to the High Park Movement Strategy to understand the travel options with the objective of improving road safety, increasing mobility choices and active modes of transportation along  High Park Dr., an important connector to the Lakeshore Blvd. Over the years, this corridor has seen several collisions that have resulted in fatalities.

We are advocating for a complete street that includes cycle tracks, expanded sidewalks and a reduction of vehicle lanes. We look forward to seeing this project among those being recommended in the 2025-2027 Cycling Network Plan.

Scarborough Bluffs West Revitalization

Alison, our Director of Advocacy and Public Policy, is on the Stakeholder Advisory Group for this exciting project. The Scarborough Bluffs West Revitalization Study will explore opportunities to improve 4.5 km of the Lake Ontario shoreline, from Balmy Beach to Bluffer’s Park. The expectation of many that this study will lead to extending the Lakeshore Trail. We are looking forward to seeing how the project will lead to providing safe access to the waterfront while protecting the sensitive shoreline and natural areas. This project is in Scarborough South West but will benefit the myriad people who enjoy the waterfront and the beauty of the Bluffs. Learn more about this project and respond to the survey, which closes on Feb 28th.

(A map of the Scarborough Bluffs revitalization project. Image: City of Toronto)

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