With the warmer weather approaching, the city has released the ActiveTO plan to make sure Torontonians have space when they get outside and get active.
On May 6, Mayor John Tory announced the new plan to provide more space for people walking and cycling, as well as for transit riders, to allow for better physical distancing as part of the city’s restart and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
ActiveTO is about making sure people have space to get outside, have space to get around while respecting physical distancing, and – when it comes to the larger bike lane projects – that we have a safety valve when it comes to the TTC. #ActiveTO pic.twitter.com/DFqeh8FwBs
— John Tory (@JohnTory) May 6, 2020
“Our streets are going to look different in many places in the post-COVID world. We will need more road space for walking. We will need quiet streets. We will need more bike infrastructure. We are going about this in a responsible, common sense way with Toronto Public Health, Transportation Services and local councillors all involved in making common sense, health-focused decisions which broaden out our transportation network,” Tory said in a statement.
The initiatives include creating quiet streets through traffic calming measures on local routes, enabling local car traffic only, and opening up space for pedestrians and cyclists (the initial target will be 50 kilometres of quiet streets).
The city’s cycling network will also be expanded (at key points of the council-approved Cycling Network Plan) as well as bikeways that mirror major TTC routes.
ActiveTO has 3 focuses:
1️⃣Create 50km of “Quiet Streets”
2️⃣Major street closures
3️⃣Accelerate Cycling Network Plan https://t.co/lPPU7jeD0p
— Cycle Toronto (@CycleToronto) May 6, 2020
Transportation Services staff and Toronto Public Health are also recommending closing some major roads adjacent to popular trails or recreational attractions where crowding on weekends and holidays has been observed. This includes some locations with complete closure to all car traffic, delivered through recurring, short-term road closures (e.g., on weekends).
The city will also aim to install more pedestrian curb lane and temporary parking pickup hotspots as part of its CURBTo plan to stop pedestrians from overcrowding as they wait to pick up takeout/essential items during the pandemic.
Social media reaction has been mixed. Some have been criticizing the city for dragging its heels on these measures and preferring to fine people to keep them out of public spaces rather than creating more space to walkers and bikers via opening streets. But the new initiative has been welcomed and has some speculating about what streets should be used.
Yonge Street should absolutely be the north/south spine of a city-wide ‘instant’ cycling network. From Steeles to the waterfront. There is more than sufficient room, and the rest of the east/west network connects into it. #CityWideCyclingNetwork https://t.co/uMWzg9O9LI
— Jennifer Keesmaat (@jen_keesmaat) May 6, 2020
Although it is expected that more people will be outdoors in the coming weeks, Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa, is still advising residents to stay at home as much as possible, to avoid rushing out to create conditions that would encourage people to congregate.
Further details of the ActiveTO plan will be released next week.