June was a particularly busy month, with two Infrastructure and Environment Committee (IEC) meetings and the last council meeting before the Mayoral By-Election. There were several items that impact the safety and comfort for people who bike in the city and some good news that will support the growth of people discovering how efficient and affordable biking is.
IEC Meeting 4 on Jun 5, 2023
On June 5, 2023, the IEC voted unanimously for the implementation of almost 8 new kilometres of bike lanes, including extending the Bloor Street West cycle tracks from Runnymede Road to Resurrection Road, implementing cycle tracks on Sheppard Avenue E from Clairtrell Road to Leslie Avenue, Superior Avenue from Lake Shore Boulevard W and Stanley Avenue, as well as other additions that improve local connections. IE4.3 - Cycling Network Plan - 2023 Cycling Infrastructure Installation - Third Quarter Updates (Ward 2, 3, 4, 9, 13, 14, 17, 22) Read our letter of support
Another item that was on the agenda was the request for the city to implement an E-scooter Pilot Program. Our position on an e-scooter rental program remains resolute: until the city prepares a comprehensive strategy on micro-mobility, in consultation with disability, road safety and other community advocates, that outlines recommendations that meet the city’s policies, it would be premature to embark on a program that does not have the support of Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee. Read our letter outlining our concerns and recommendations for a comprehensive micro-mobility strategy. We successfully worked with Councillor Ainslie, city staff and committee members to have the item withdrawn.
Council Meeting #7 June 14-15,
IE4.3 - Cycling Network Plan - 2023 Cycling Infrastructure Installation - Third Quarter Updates
City Council voted overwhelmingly in support of the 2023 Cycling Infrastructure Installation Update which is an important step towards achieving the 100km outlined in the 2022-2024 Near Term Cycling Network Plan - and more specifically seeing Bloor St with bike lanes from Mississauga to Scarborough. Congratulations to all the advocates, Councillors Gord Perks and Amber Morley, city staff and local BIA’s for their work in making this possible.
TE5.40 - 40 kilometres per hour Speed Limit on Major Arterial Roads Read our letter of support
Another important step in the right direction for meeting the city’s Vision Zero Road Safety Plan, Council voted overwhelmingly in favour of reducing the speed limit on all major arterials to 40 kilometres per hour within the city’s core (Wards 4 - Parkdale-High Park, 9 - Davenport, 11 - University-Rosedale, 12 - Toronto-St. Paul’s, 13 - Toronto Centre, and Ward 14 - Toronto-Danforth). Arterial roadways represent about 20% of Toronto’s roadway network and are the sites of over 80% of collisions that kill or seriously injure people, including school-aged children. With the increased development of the city’s core over the past decade, the city’s arterial and major road arterials are increasingly cutting through neighbourhoods, making it dangerous for local residents to cross the street to reach the off-leash dog park, drop their kids off at school, pick up groceries, visit their local café or access transit stops/stations.
With many arterial roadways having a speed limit of 50 kph, even when the driving speed of drivers is within the posted speed limit, people walking, biking and wheeling face an 85% fatality risk when hit by vehicular traffic at 50 kph. The risk of fatality drops significantly when speeds are lowered to 40 kph and 30 kph.
While this is a step in the right direction, the approved speed reduction includes the following exclusions to this speed reduction:
- Lake Shore Boulevard West and East
- Bayview Avenue and Don Valley Parkway/Bayview-Bloor Ramp
- Major arterial roads bound outside of the boundary overseen by the Toronto and East York Community Council
- Arterial roads that bound Wards 10 (Spadina-Fort York) and 19 (Beaches-East York).
Toronto will not achieve its Vision Zero Road Safety Plan until speeds along arterial roadways are reduced. It is important that the speed limit be reduced within the bylaws, until our roads are redesigned to physically slow traffic speed. Additionally, the environment around arterials needs to be safe for the local residents who live and work along arterial corridors. Cycle Toronto will continue to advocate for reducing speed limits on arterials that run throughout Scarborough, North York and Etobicoke for the safety of the majority of people in Toronto who rely on transit, walking and biking.
In addition to these items, there were several member motions that we supported in our objective to make Toronto a safer and more equitable city:
- MM7.12 - Bright Night in the Boroughs: Bring Nuit Blanche Back to Etobicoke, North York and Scarborough in 2024 - by Councillor James Pasternak, seconded by Councillor Lily Cheng (Ward All) Read our letter of support
- MM7.14 - Exploring Municipal Options to Create a Pedestrian and Cycling Connection Between Antler Street and Lappin Avenue - by Councillor Alejandra Bravo, seconded by Councillor Paula Fletcher (Ward All) Read our letter of support
- MM7.24 - Mitigating Disruption of Betty Sutherland Trail Closure - by Councillor Shelley Carroll, seconded by Councillor Jon Burnside (Ward 17) Read our letter of support
Toronto and East York Community Council on Jun 22, 2023
TE6.54 - Kensington Market Safe Streets Implementation: Prioritizing Pedestrians in Kensington Market Read our letter
On Thursday, June 22nd, the Toronto and East York Community Council (TEYC) discussed the future plans for Kensington Market. As a much loved destination for people wanting to experience a diverse and vibrant space free of big chains and generic fast food, Kensington Market’s narrow sidewalks don’t accommodate the volume of visitors on foot, and cars clog the streets. It is baffling to anyone that vehicles other than delivery trucks, would drive through the market. The size and central location make Kensington Market ideally suited to be pedestrianized, in some form. In addition to being well served by public transit, it is also connected to one of Toronto’s busiest cycling routes. It was thus very disappointing that, despite overwhelming support (94% of survey respondents) for permanent car-free streets in Kensington Market, the staff recommendations for the Kensington Market Safe Streets project do not include dedicated pedestrian only spaces. Instead, the staff report proposes a pedestrian pilot that will include more consultations in 2024.
The good news: the recommended design includes the removal of all on-street parking and 16 permit parking spaces, as well as the addition of two additional Bike Share Toronto stations.
The bad news: While New York City is becoming known for its open streets, vibrant urban spaces and cycling routes, Toronto is becoming known as the city of pilot projects. We recognize that there are difficulties in achieving pedestrianized spaces in an active downtown area, but the city is losing the perfect opportunity to deliver an innovative pedestrian only public space which could have served as a best practice to create more car-free spaces across the city.
We look forward to being among the community stakeholders that will work with staff, the local councillor and residents to plan a pedestrian pilot.
IEC Meeting 5 Jun 28, 2023
IE5.4 - Parkside Drive Study Update (Ward 4) For those eager to see Parkside Dr redesigned to be safer for the people who live and visit the area, the city staff provide an update on the different options they are considering, including the preferred option which, if chosen, will see a dangerous road reconfigured as a complete street. Read the city report to learn about the project. There will be consultations taking place in the fall. Read our letter
IE5.5 - Planning for an E-Scooter Pilot (Ward 11) Despite broaching this same issue at IEC meeting just weeks earlier, on June 5, a new motion was brought forward by Councillor Saxe, this time asking for the city to direct Bike Share Toronto to pilot an e-scooter pilot. Read our letter, once again iterating our call for holding off the adoption of a rental e-scooter pilot until a comprehensive micro-mobility strategy is developed in consultation with community stakeholders.