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CHATTER: Community groups push pedestrian safety on Avenue Road (Nov. 2020)

December 4th, 2020 · No Comments

Narrow sidewalks plague pedestrians on Avenue Road. BRIAN BURCHELL/GLEANER NEWS

According to the City of Toronto, over 60,000 cars, on average, are caught driving  over the speed limit on Avenue Road every week. The sidewalks between Bloor Street West to St. Clair Avenue West do not meet the accessibility standards requiring a minimum width of 152.5 cm, and local groups want improvements to start immediately. With the support of councillors Mike Layton and Josh Matlow, they have requested the launch of a Pedestrian Safety Improvement Pilot Project that would replace a lane on both sides of the road with a temporary barrier.

With six lanes of traffic, Avenue Road “looks and feels like an Expressway,” says Albert Koehl. Koehl is a co-ordinator with The Avenue Road Safety Coalition (ARSC), a group formed in 2017 because, he says, community groups were not impressed by the attention to safety in the area.

“We want people who live there, go to school there, go shopping, or visit friends, to feel safe walking in that area,” Dylan Reid, co-founder of Walk Toronto said in an interview with the Annex Gleaner.

Councillor Josh Matlow says he has been trying to increase the safety on Avenue Road for “several years.” A recent motion Matlow and Layton presented to community council asks for “Transportation Services to report back to the Toronto and East York Community Council in the fourth quarter of 2020 or as soon as possible.”

But, the motion presented was not what the ARSC or supporting community organizations were expecting. “What we got out of that was a study, and there’s no guarantee that the study will be completed before the end of the year,” Koehl said. Frustrated with the slow process compared to other projects, Koehl says that the only study needed is to stand on Avenue Road and witness the issue itself.

According to Councillor Matlow, before the pandemic the city was slow to take action, but now they’re much quicker to support the needs of Torontonians by doing such things as blocking off streets for CafeTO, or implementing new bike lanes across the city. Matlow says he’s trying to take advantage of City Hall’s new agility in the hopes that this motion “demonstrates the same sense of urgency.”

—Mary An/Gleaner News

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