The city’s ActiveTO and CafeTO initiatives will transform part of midtown this spring and summer.
On April 7 city council approved a pilot project that will see Yonge Street between Bloor Street and Davisville Avenue reduced to two lanes, bike lanes added and on-street patios installed.
It is a similar to the Destination Danforth plan last year that created more room for physical distancing along Danforth Avenue.
ActiveTO and CafeTO initiatives started in 2020 in response to COVID-19 restrictions and are meant to create safer and additional lanes for cyclists and to boost patronage at local restaurants.
“We certainly got a lot of feedback from the community last year in midtown about trying to find a location for a cycling connection,” Barbara Gray, general manager of transportation services, told council.
The southbound cycling lanes are intended to increase cyclist numbers on Yonge, which reflected fairly low in transportation services’ data.
The lack of bicycle lanes contributes to the low number of cyclists, Gray said.
Build it, they will come — on foot and bikes
“People would use the facility if they thought it was safe, and direct, and accessible,” Gray said. “Where we have a built dedicated cycling infrastructure … in every case we see the volumes go up considerably.”
The “when we build it, they will come” argument holds true for cycling infrastructure, she said.
This pilot project also aims to increase the number of non-vehicular travellers on Yonge Street.
“We have a long-term goal of having 75 percent of all of our trips, within under five kilometres, be made by active modes like walking and cycling,” Gray said.
University-Rosedale councillor Mike Layton, in whose ward much of the pilot will be installed, called it “an exciting step” to bring safer streets, patios and bike lanes.
City Council has approved an ActiveTO active streets installation on Yonge street from Bloor to Davisville. This is an exciting step. Safer streets, patios, bike lanes.
— Mike Layton (@m_layton) April 7, 2021
To bring this pilot to fruition, city staff is partnering with consultants, city staff are being reprioritized, and new staff are being hired.
“We’re pulling out all the stops in terms of trying to bring our resources to the table to deliver the active TO,” Gray said.
Local feedback sought
The response of local businesses and residents is also being sought.
Feedback forms are available for businesses on the affected stretch of Yonge Street.
A virtual public consultation will also give residents the chance to ask questions and provide feedback about the upcoming street pilot. The meeting will be held on April 27 at 7 p.m. via phone or Webex.