November Advocacy Update
Infrastructure and Environment Committee (IEC):
On October 25th, the IEC held its second last meeting of 2023, and many of the issues that we have been advocating for were on the agenda. Read on to get an update on the city’s efforts to improve construction zone chaos, traffic congestion, Vision Zero initiatives and how to better leverage our wonderful trail system to connect people to transit.
The daily danger and frustration of biking, walking and taking transit in Toronto is something that the city is slowly making progress on improving. This may be hard to believe since our on-the-ground reality is plagued with blocked bike lanes, intersections and construction zones that are set up with complete disregard for vulnerable road users.
After almost two years of ongoing advocacy efforts, IEC members adopted several motions to improve the process. Read our letter here, or view the presentation and discussion that unfolded here.
Here is a summary of the recommendations made by IEC and approved by Council on Nov 8, 2023:
The city will be requesting the Province of Ontario to make the needed amendments to the Highway Traffic Act that will enable municipalities the ability to leverage automated enforcement technology (ASE) to enforce the myriad of vehicles blocking intersections.
- If approved by the province, this will contribute to moving away from the over reliance on costly on the ground police enforcement
At the first IEC of 2024 on January 9th, the General Manager, Transportation Services, will report on:
- The measures that can be implemented to improve wayfinding on long-term road closures, including the reduction of temporary measures on sidewalks such as displaceable pylons (aka as tripping hazards).
- Identifying improvements to way-finding on short term road closures.
- The feasibility of increasing the fee for road occupation permits to contribute towards the cost of managing congestion.
- A plan to consult with road users and advocacy groups including Cycle Toronto, Canadian Automobile Association, Walk Toronto, Toronto Transit Commission Riders, and others on the Congestion Management Plan, and to include how feedback will be captured, incorporated into future reports, and reported to City Council. (We are particularly proud of this one because we have been advocating for this)
Several pertinent issues were discussed at this month’s Infrastructure and Environment Committee. Navigating dangerous construction sites may soon become safer after a report is delivered in early 2024 on improved wayfinding around street or sidewalk closures. In order to diversify Vision Zero’s toolkit, amendments to the Highway Traffic Act were requested by the city to enable the city to use more automated enforcement technology.
(More automated speed enforcement cameras may be coming to Toronto’s streets in 2024. Photo: CBC.ca)
Residents of North York will be pleased to hear that a year-round connection from Earl Bales Park to the York Mills TTC station was approved at City Council earlier this month.
IE7.4 - Updates on Vision Zero Road Safety Initiatives - New Traffic Calming Policy, Community Safety Zone Criteria, Zebra Marking Policy, Approach to Area-Based Speed Limit Reductions and Related Council Requests
The objective of the city’s Vision Zero Road Safety Plan is to ultimately end road violence on our streets and roads. With less than two months before the end of 2023, there have been 36 deaths on our streets and roads, and 178 serious road injuries, thus impacting the trauma of countless people and their loved ones. On November 19th, we stood in solidarity with Friends and Families for Safe Streets and other road safety advocates to mark the World Day of Remembrance for Traffic Victims.
We will continue to advocate for improving the efficacy of the Vision Zero Plan until our streets, roads, sidewalks and bike lanes are safe for people of all ages, abilities and incomes. To improve the equity of implementing traffic calming initiatives, we are calling for the city to report on the complaints received about projects like the implementation of the Bloor St Bike lanes in Etobicoke compared to the location of collisions. The City of Guelph partnered with the University of Guelph and Streetlight data to shed light on the disproportionate level of complaints from wealthy homeowners vs. equity deserving communities that experience the majority of traffic collisions.
In the meantime, here are the improvements that will contribute to improving Vision Zero in Toronto that was adopted by City Council on Nov 8, 2023:
- The General Manager, Transportation Services will report annually on Toronto’s progress on air quality, climate, public health and congestion goals in relation to the Vision Zero Road Safety Plan;
- For every location on the public right of way where someone was killed by the driver of a motor vehicle, a summary of potential contributing factors that resulted in the fatality and recommendations for safety improvements in the area, as well as identification of trends and recommendations for system-wide improvements will be made.
- The General Manager, Transportation Services will present the list of new priority locations for community safety zones at the IEC meeting on November 29, 2023.
- The General Manager, Transportation Services to amend the Traffic Control Warrants used to evaluate the need for All-Way Stop Control, Pedestrian Crossovers and Traffic Control Signals so that the “Collision Hazard” warrant is satisfied if there has been at least one potentially preventable collision classified as a KSI (“Killed or Seriously Injured”).
We are thrilled to announce our collaboration with TenBlock, The Centre for Active Transportation, Foodshare, Park People, Toronto Field Naturalists, and WalkTO along with Councillor Pasternak and Councillor Cheng resulted in successfully advocating for expanding the use of Toronto’s public Don Valley golf course to people who seek a safe connection from Earl Bales Park to York Mills subway station.
Cycle Toronto advocates for quality bike infrastructure, but creating quality connections between the city’s wonderful trail system to the city’s transportation network can be equally valuable.
Thanks to a member motion made by Councillor Cheng which was supported by Councillor Pasternak and adopted by both IEC and City Council, residents of Willowdale and York Centre may soon have a safe year-round connection to York Mills Subway Station from Earl Bales Park:
The Acting General Manager, Parks, Forestry and Recreation, in consultation with the General Manager, Transportation Services, will be exploring the feasibility of a year-round trail connection between Earl Bales Park and York Mills Station that will achieve the following goals:
- That won’t interfere with regular golf operations within the Don Valley Golf Course;
- That will maximize the connections to adjacent amenities, destinations and residential areas, including Earl Bales Park, York Mills Station and the West Lansing neighbourhood in Willowdale;
- Maximize connectivity and safety for trail users by formalizing existing improvised trails that may be substandard; and,
- Minimize impact on important habitat and hydrogeological features of the ravine.
(A snowboarder prepares to take on one of the hills at Earl Bales Park. Photo credit: City of Toronto.)
We also received welcome news about Bike Share this month, as the Toronto Parking Authority confirmed they will be making Bike Share payment plans more accessible and affordable.
Micromobility and Review of Parking Requirements for New Developments
As an organization that supports micro-mobility that will reduce the number of motor vehicles on our streets, we advocated for the city to develop a comprehensive micro-mobility strategy that applies an equitable lens to determine what mobilities will be allowed, and where they should be used.
Micro-mobilities represent an affordable and accessible way for people to get around provided that they are supported with safe infrastructure and they don’t impinge the mobility of others.
Have your say by completing the public survey on micromobility - submit your feedback by December 13th, 2023.
The city is developing a strategy for so-called “micromobility” vehicles, which include e-bikes, e-scooters and e-kick scooters, cargo bikes and more. The strategy will outline guidelines for what micromobility vehicles should be allowed, where they can operate, where they can park, and whether to allow both personal use and shared vehicles. A strong supporter of e-bikes and e-cargo bikes, Cycle Toronto also supports providing people more mobility options allow people to move about safely but shares concerns about larger, faster e-moped style vehicles on bikeways and multi-use trails. Your feedback in this strategy is essential:
Complete the survey today: https://s.cotsurvey.chkmkt.com/micromobility.
(Dockless shared e-kicked scooters. Photo credit: Reuters.)
Another exciting opportunity to share your feedback related to micro-mobility is the Review of Parking Requirements for New Developments. We hear from our supporters who live in apartments and condos across the city that they don’t have safe and secure parking for their bikes, whether they are cargo bikes, trikes or regular bikes.
Provide your feedback today on these two surveys:
To learn more, head to the city’s Review of Parking Requirements for New Developments page.
In terms of the City-Wide Parking Strategy, we anticipate that the city will announce stakeholder and public consultations in either December or January. Stay tuned. We are advocating for the inclusion of bike parking as an integral part of the city’s strategy.
Bike Share Improvements
In March 2023, Bike Share Toronto announced they would be ‘modernizing their rate structure’, which we responded to by advocating for a more equitable approach to making this valuable city program more accessible and affordable. As a result of our advocacy, they announced they would, among other things, offer annual memberships in three installments (vs. one lump sum which made it inaccessible to many, including food delivery couriers who would pay up to 35% of their income on using the casual rates). As of December 1st, this will finally be available.
We will continue monitoring the Toronto Parking Authority’s progress on the equity-based investigation into how the new rate structure is impacting users from the inner suburbs and adjusting its 2023 and 2024 expansion plans to reflect this input. Our advocacy work leads to impactful changes - please consider donating to help us be able to continue our work.
(A Bike Share bike ready to be ridden along the waterfront.)