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NEWS: City fails to move forward as Avenue Road plans evolve (Fall 2021)

November 11th, 2021 · No Comments

Bike lanes added to Avenue Road re-design

Avenue Road Safety Coalition has introduced a project that would create a bike lane on the east side of Avenue Road in a shared space with pedestrians. COURTESY BROWN AND STOREY

By Margarita Maltceva

Avenue Road Safety Coalition (ARSC) and Brown & Storey Architects Inc. held an online meeting September 13 to discuss their plans for making Avenue Road safer for pedestrian traffic. The project launched following the death of an 18-year-old cyclist in August, and following a report by the City of Toronto that estimates some 60,000 cars speed on the road each week. However, the city still has not hired a consultant for the project and its time frame remains unknown.

Last May, Councillor Josh Matlow moved a motion for city staff to study how a bike lane on Avenue Road would affect the flow of traffic. The initial plan by Brown & Storey Architects did not include a bike lane, but widened sidewalks for pedestrians. This would have brought the street back to what it was in the 1950s, before extra lanes were added to accommodate more cars.

After the city added a temporary bike lane on Bloor Street this year, Brown & Storey added a bi-directional bike lane to its plans for the east side of Avenue Road. This new design would consist of two 1.5-metre bike lanes separated from pedestrians by trees and lighting.

ARSC coordinator Albert Koehl told the Annex Gleaner that the new bike lane would become a part of the bike lane network connecting downtown streets. 

The innovations on Avenue Road would also create a linear park with 580 new trees, potentially providing access to the Green Line and making new entrances to Ramsden Park.

James Brown, one of the founders of Brown & Storey, said the structured verges would hold trees and plants, separate the sidewalks from the road and create a “linear garden running all the way along the street.”

Councillor Matlow, who attended the meeting on September 13, expressed frustration about the lack of progress the city has made on this project.

“It will take several months or a year to do all the work, the study and the consultation,” he said, and explained that one of the reasons why the project is taking so long is because the transportation staff that would have worked on Avenue Road have been seconded to other priorities. 

Matlow stressed that safety on Avenue Road also should be a priority for the city.

“The city has demonstrated during the COVID-19 pandemic that when it wants to reimagine how we use the public realm, it’s able to do so very quickly. We’ve seen that with ActiveTO and with CaféTO. Why should Avenue Road be any different? Why should it be left any less safe than any other streets?”

Apart from the pilot project, he said the city should take immediate steps to create more space on Avenue Road for pedestrian safety. 

Koehl stresses that creating a safer environment for pedestrians and cyclists would also help the city achieve its Net Zero strategy – which sees residents walking or cycling to make 75 per cent of their trips under five km by 2050.

“We know we need to reduce motor traffic,” said Koehl. “And in fact, that’s exactly what the city’s policies say.”

Councillors Layton and Matlow will move another motion on October 2 to ask the city to evaluate and consider the changes proposed by the ARSC.

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Tags: Annex · News