July 11, 2018

Forwards (and Backwards) on Bloor-Danforth

Last week, the Toronto and East York Community Council approved the recommendations of a planning study done for Danforth Avenue from Coxwell to Victoria Park Avenues, as well as supported expanding the study to cover the section from Broadview to Coxwell Avenues. The Danforth planning study was widely consulted which saw strong support for 7-8 storey mid-rise buildings, heritage conservation, and complete streets including wider sidewalks and protected bike lanes. All four speakers present expressed support for improved cycling facilities and the motion will go to City Council on July 23; the last meeting before October’s election. If approved, we will be one step closer to getting bike lanes on “The Danny”.
2018 Bells on Danforth
This news is a timely follow up to two events regarding Danforth Avenue. On June 16, hundreds of people rode their bikes during Bells on Danforth – inspired by Bells on Bloor – to show support for extending the bike lanes on that corridor and bring some positive vibes over a deadly week which saw three people get killed while riding their bikes. Councillors McMahon and Janet Davis – neither of whom will be seeking re-election – announced at the ride they would bring a motion to start the major corridor study on Danforth Avenue, which would be separate from the planning study and focus more on transportation. Also in June, east end advocates and Bells on Bloor did a bike count on Danforth Avenue which saw over 3000 people riding their bikes that day with mode share exceeding 20% at the peak! Those are similar numbers to what Bloor Street experienced before the bike lanes were installed in 2016.
Danforth Bike Count (via Ward 30 Bikes)
However, that recent motion lead to a disturbing discovery thanks to a deputation made by Hamish Wilson; a long-time advocate who frequently speaks at city hall on cycling items. In addition to his remarks on Danforth, Hamish expressed frustration over the slow pace of getting bike lanes on a section of Bloor Street from Sherbourne to Church Streets. Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam then asked a question to city staff on the status of that section of Bloor Street, which lead to Jacquelyn Hayward Gulati – Director of Transportation Infrastructure – saying it would not be completed until 2021.
Community council meeting video. JHG's remarks on Bloor are 1 hour
48 minutes in while deputations start at 1 hour 25 minutes in.
The Sherbourne to Church section of Bloor Street was originally supposed to be done in 2017 but was then delayed to 2019 to co-ordinate with the reconstruction of the Bloor and Parliament intersection. This latest delay was triggered due to other capital works such as resurfacing and improving Bloor Street from Bathurst Street to Avenue Road, as well as the Glen Road pedestrian bridge.
Memorial ride for Dalia Chako at Bloor and St. George
With Toronto experiencing record deaths due to road violence – 93 happened during the first two years of what should be called Zero Vision – we road safety advocates CANNOT afford any more delays to much needed protected bike lanes along major corridors such as Bloor-Danforth. Especially when bike lanes on Bloor from Shaw Street to Avenue Road were installed three years before planned construction, while those on Lansdowne Avenue from Dundas to Rideau Streets were done in 2014 with resurfacing done in 2016. We don't need any more excuses to worsen what is already a slow pace of implementing the bike plan!
With the municipal election only three months away, let’s ask our city council and mayoral candidates to #BuildTheGrid (sign the pledge here) including protected bike lanes along the major corridors. Finally, we must keep the pressure after the election to remind council of the urgent need to build safe streets across the city.

Ding! Ding!
Rob Z (e-mail)

UPDATE (2018/07/12) - The Toronto Star has picked up on the story about the delay involving Bloor from Sherbourne to Church which you can read here.

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