ActiveTO Quiet Streets launch dead on arrival.

Toronto the Careful™ has struck again.

Call me jaded but the plan to open up Toronto’s streets to pedestrians and cyclists seems to be (like most council actions in our fair city) massively underwhelming and certainly in Ward 5 the selection of streets doesn’t seem to address the spirit of the initiative. The idea was to ensure that, “people have space to get around on sidewalks while respecting physical distancing“. 

57 km or a minuscule 1.7% of Toronto’s 3,322 km of neighbourhood streets (excludes expressways, arterial and collector roads) will be temporarily signed and barricaded off to all but local traffic. York South-Weston is giving this treatment to 3.7 kilometres of its streets. Sadly none are in Weston or Mount Dennis.

The Ward 5 closed off streets will be:

StreetFromToLength
Bicknell AveRogers RdEglinton Ave 0.9 km
Silverthorn AveSt. Clair Ave WDonald Ave 

Total of 2.8 km

Donald AveSilverthorn AveHaverson Blvd
Haverson BlvdDonald AveCameron Ave
Blackthorn AveCameron AveEglinton Ave W

Source: Councillor Nunziata’s May 13 COVID Update.

Council felt the need to do something, and something, albeit timid and careful has been done. At least they restrained themselves from calling it a pilot. Additional streets will be considered ‘thereafter’.

The affected streets are shown with red dotted lines. Click to enlarge. Adapted from Google Maps.

According to Councillor Nunziata’s update, the criteria for selection of these streets was, “…several factors including, but not limited to, population density, equity, access to greenspace, car ownership rates, and traffic volumes.“. The councillor’s selection appears to be entirely inside her newly acquired constituency – Frank DiGiorgio’s  former Ward 12 so perhaps this is a little nod to them.

Incidentally, all but one of the selected streets have sidewalks on both sides so it’s hard to imagine crowds of people jostling for space.

Looking south from where Blackthorn Ave and Haverson Blvd meet at Cameron Ave. From Google Maps.

Readers are invited to suggest locations in Weston and Mount Dennis that might be more suitable. We will forward them to the councillor for future consideration.

Update: The city has published their list of ‘Quiet Streets’ and the Ward 5 selections are nowhere to be seen.

Crosswalk coming to to Eglinton, speed humps to John

The city will install a crosswalk on Eglinton where an elderly woman was struck and killed trying to cross. According to Toronto.com

York-South Weston Coun. Frances Nunziata requested the city install the pedestrian crossing on Eglinton Avenue West, 100 metres west of Pearen Street in order to address an 800-metre gap between protected pedestrian crossings on that stretch. Council approved the signalized crossing in a meeting on Jan. 29. No firm date was set for installation.

In related news, Etobicoke York Community Council has overruled city staff and asked the city to install speed humps on John Street between Pine and Elm. When surveyed, 59% of respondents said that they were in favour. To recommend humps, city staff require 60% approval. Four councillors, including Nunziata, voted in favour of the humps. One councillor, Stephen Holyday, voted against them.

City says no humps on John

A survey of John Street residents between Pine and Elm fell 1% short of the required 60% approval rate to get speed humps installed.

Staff only recommend humps if more than half of residents respond, and if more than 60% agree with humps. In this case, 55% of residents responded, but 59% of those said they wanted humps—1% less than is required.

Etobicoke York Community Council will consider the issue on February 5.

New signals on Eglinton at Pearen Park

At the Jan 8 Community Council Meeting, another item of note was the decision to install a pedestrian traffic signal across Eglinton at Pearen Park. Residents have long complained about the danger of crossing between the signals at Jane or Weston Rd (a distance of 800 metres). Roads and Traffic have in the past refused to permit a safe crossing, citing concern that it would slow traffic on Eglinton.
However, a death in 2017 caused the councillor to ask again, and this time they agreed. However, their recommendation is that it wait until 2021, and only if ‘competing priorities’ don’t get the money first ($120,000).
As reported by Simon Chamberlain, former chair of the Mount Dennis Community Association, the city advised that they are hamstrung by new rules imposed by the province that seriously limits the number of contractors the city can use to do such work. Apparently there is, as a result, a huge backlog of signal installation.
One would think that the safety of pedestrians would trump any provincial meddling. Vison Zero cannot be successful if intersections such as this one cannot be made safe. And what ‘competing priority’ is more important than the death of a pedestrian? The councillor can be reached at 416-392-4091, should you wish to urge her to order the installation sooner.

City staff say no speed humps for Queens Drive

The city is recommending against speed humps on Queens Drive. The issue will be discussed at the next meeting of the Etobicoke York Community Council on September 16.

Staff looked at installing humps between Elm and Rosemount. They found that cars didn’t travel particularly fast on the street, and less than 15% of cars were going faster than 43 km/h.  There was also too little traffic to warrant the installation.

If the community council overrules city staff, residents will be surveyed. More than half of residents must respond, and 60% must be in favour for staff to recommend the installation.

 

John Street changes

Speaking of sidewalks, changes are likely coming to John Street. The Etobicoke York Community Council will consider making the intersection of John and Weston roads narrower.

The city wants to widen the sidewalks, remove a lane on John Street, shorten the turn radius, and add pro-pedestrian signals.

Map of John and Weston

I’m a pretty pro-pedestrian, pro-bike kind of guy, but this seems like a mistake to me. John Street is a disaster. Cars park on both sides of the street, making turning difficult already. Pedestrians cross from the parking lot and alley halfway up, and the auto repair shop is less than fully compliant and quite busy. It’s virtually impossible to drive on John without stopping as it is. Narrowing it—especially without vigilant enforcement of parking and stopping bylaws—is going to make that much worse.

If I had my druthers, I’d ruther the city tackle the left turn from South Station Street onto John. It’s wide, fast, and really needs a stop sign to allow pedestrians safe passage to the pedestrian bridge. I’ve seen many cars turning from South Station Street going too fast onto John, going from a wide, amenable street onto a narrow, crowded one.

I think the city is tackling the wrong end of the problem.