Protected bike lanes could be coming to Yonge

The new study Reimagining Yonge Street, led by the City of Toronto, is looking to bring a pedestrian- and bike-friendly vision to the booming Yonge corridor between Sheppard Avenue and Finch Avenue.

What has emerged from city surveys and design charrettes with local residents was a call for bike lanes, dedicated cycling facilities and an improved streetscape for pedestrians alongside wider sidewalks with more trees, street furniture, planters and a landscaped median. The city conducted three recent public open houses in North York to solicit further comments from residents. 

“It’s working downtown, and here we seem to have a little bit more space,” said Gus Savonarata, co-owner of area restaurant Mezza Notte Trattoria. “I did try to ride my bike to work, and so many times I almost got hit so I stopped.”

Cycling advocates say the project is long overdue.

“I was really excited at their last public meeting to see that all four of their designs had protected bike lanes,” said Christopher Hoyle, a member of the Yonge Street Working Group, a Cycle Toronto collective advocating for improved infrastructure along the Yonge corridor. 

“If you go there now, you won’t see a lot of cyclists because there are three lanes of traffic and oftentimes a lane of parking. Riding along between the parked cars and moving cars is quite dangerous,” Hoyle explained. 

“It’s all about pedestrianizing that section of Yonge and changing it so that it works for all modes of transportation,” said Jeff Dea, manager of infrastructure planning with the City of Toronto. 

Whether or not Yonge Street between Finch and Sheppard would lose an automobile lane or street parking has yet to be determined.

The city is looking to have design options completed in the fall. A report will be submitted to the City of Toronto’s public works and infrastructure committee by January 2017.

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