City Provides More Spaces on Streets for Physical Distancing – Councillor Josh Matlow (Ward 12) Newsletter May 8, 2020
The City has recently announced the ActiveTO and CurbTO programs being developed by Public Health and Transportation Services to provide more space for people walking and cycling as well as transit riders to allow for better physical distancing as part of the city’s restart and recovery.
As the summer comes and the city starts up again, it’s expected people will be out and about more often. Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Eileen de Villa’s, advice to residents to stay at home as much as possible and to avoid rushing out to create conditions that would encourage people to congregate, has helped slow the spread of the virus. It has protected the health of Toronto residents and saved lives – which is the primary objective at all times. But, people cannot stay home forever and they will need to go outside. More space on our streets is needed to ensure that Torontonians can go outside while maintaining distance from others. Right now, vehicle and pedestrian traffic are at an all-time low, while bike traffic has stayed about the same in certain downtown locations. In anticipation of changes in traffic patterns in the coming weeks and months, the Mayor and City Council requested City staff look at more active transportation as a crucial part of the restart and recovery.
The plans include:
Creating Quiet Streets
Approximately 50km of local routes throughout Toronto will have traffic calming measures implemented to enable local car traffic only and open up space for pedestrians and cyclists.
Major Streets for Active Transportation
Transportation Services staff and Toronto Public Health recommend closing some major roads adjacent to major trails or recreational attractions where crowding on weekends and holidays has been observed. These would include some locations with complete closures to all car traffic and would be delivered through recurring short-term road closures, such as on weekends. When this happens, on a trial basis, staff will be monitoring adjacent routes with real-time data and will make adjustments as necessary.
Expanding Cycling Network
More bike lanes will help people move around the city as the restart gets underway. This plan would see the cycling network expanded and temporary active transportation lanes installed. The City will expand and accelerate key parts of the council-approved Cycling Network Plan that connect the cycling network, as well as bikeways that mirror major TTC routes.
Pedestrian Queueing Hotspots
The CurbTO program will provide additional space to encourage physical distancing in areas where it is challenging due to lineups for businesses. City staff have worked to identify key hot spots where there are lineups or pinch points on sidewalks that public health and transportation officials have determined need to be addressed to continue to encourage physical distancing and protect overall public health. The program focuses on creating curb lane pedestrian zones to increase space for pedestrians, as well as temporary parking pick-up zones that will allow for quick medicine and food pick-ups at essential businesses. Residents and businesses that would like to get more information on the program are encouraged to visit the City’s website at this link, and call 311 to report any suggestion locations they may have for the program.