Yonge Loves Bikes: Midtown

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On October 28, 2020, Toronto City Council voted 19 - 3 in favour of a motion by Councillor Mike Colle to request City staff to look at how Yonge Street, from Bloor Street to north of Lawrence Avenue, could be remade as a “complete street” by the spring of 2021.

Imagine Yonge Street through Midtown as a vibrant streetscape with patios, parking, protected bike lanes, and streetscape improvements with safer spaces for everyone whether you’re walking, rolling, biking, or driving. Tens of thousands of people call Midtown home and they’re asking for these changes in 2021. 

Check out Midtown by bike for yourself: In late September, Cycle Toronto Midtown, St. Clement’s Church and Cycle Don Valley Midtown organized a Bike Month ride to highlight the “15-minute city in Midtown.”

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Bike lanes on Yonge in Midtown will connect Uptown and Downtown with much-needed cycling infrastructure. Yonge needs to become a safe bikeway to create a north/south connection to link communities and their unique shops, employers, schools, and diverse neighbourhoods with the rest of the city. Yonge connects all of the City’s major east/west streets and is home to the busiest transit line in Canada. 

It’s part of a “complete streets” approach

Throughout the pandemic the City has demonstrated that positive changes can quickly be made to safely and respectfully accommodate all street users while encouraging much needed support for local businesses. Examples of the City’s pandemic response plans include adding on-street patios as part of CafeTO, and accelerating bikeway implementations, including Danforth, creating safer spaces for people walking, rolling, driving, and riding bikes.

“I ride with my two kids (aged 5 and 9) every day. My 5 year-old (with the yellow handlebar streamers!) told me that this Cycle Toronto ride was ‘way better than staying home and watching TV.’ There you have it! When you’re riding with kids, streets not only have to be safe, they have to feel safe. Separated bike lanes are the way forward.” 

-The Rev. Andrew Federle, Senior Priest, St. Clement's Church, Toronto

Yonge Loves Bikes: The campaign to-date

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A collage of images. Pictures of food, businesses and selfies.
The #BikesLoveYonge and #BikeFridays campaign generated thousands of social media interactions supporting local businesses.

2020 was a historic year for cycling infrastructure in Toronto, but Midtown was left out. This prompted volunteers in Cycle Toronto ward groups to begin organizing a campaign for a  bikeway in Midtown. The campaign focused on three key goals:

  • Gain support of local Residents’ Associations (RA’s) and other community groups and congregations
  • Show Business Improvement Areas (BIAs) that “bikes mean business” through #BikesLoveYonge and #BikeFridays, a campaign to shop locally by bike and help businesses recover as they reopened
  • Work with local councillors to champion a temporary bikeway on Yonge and bring a motion to City Council

The hard work of these volunteers paid off. Their engagement through the pandemic garnered support for the transformation of Midtown Yonge from all three local City Councillors (Josh Matlow, Mike Colle, and Mike Layton), local RA’s, and the local BIA’s, as well as many other organizations.

This landslide of support led City Council to vote 19 - 3 in favour of requesting that by spring 2021 City staff report on remaking Yonge from Bloor Street to north of Lawrence Avenue as a “complete street”.

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