COVID-19 sharpens the focus on the street

I’ll say one thing for social distancing: it’s focused a lot of public attention on our main streets and sidewalks, and their unsuitability for both car traffic and safe and enjoyable walking and cycling, especially during the pandemic. Urged to spend more time out of doors, while staying two metres from each other, we are noticing how narrow the sidewalks are. Along Bayview Avenue, and other major streets, pedestrians have to step into the roadway, merging with cyclists and traffic, both to social distance and avoid lineups outside shops and outdoor patios.

As pandemic-related restrictions are gradually lifted, traffic volume on Bayview will increase. So will the number of heavy trucks, as Sunnybrook Plaza becomes a construction site. But the need for physical distancing is likely to continue for some time, whatever any “new normal” turns out to be.

So, changes must be made. The City recently announced two new initiatives: CurbTO, focusing on site-specific lineups in front of individual essential businesses, and ActiveTO, aiming to create more user-friendly roadways and sidewalks for pedestrians, cycling, and public transit. 

I have been told that Transportation Services is collecting data and developing lists of recommended locations for improvement. Once they have these lists ready, they will be contacting city councillors’ offices, ratepayer groups, and local BIAs for further information and feedback. 

How might those initiatives affect Leaside, and in particular the Bayview shopping district? Or Eglinton Avenue east of Bayview, where speeding is a problem? Which curb lanes could be given over to pedestrians and cyclists in order to provide wider sidewalks, or at least safer walking space? Might parking availability be affected? Can everyone’s needs be accommodated? And, not least, how much public consultation will take place before the City makes decisions?

It has taken a pandemic to demonstrate how inadequately our sidewalks meet our needs. As a resident of this community you no doubt have ideas (and certainly opinions). We are all active stakeholders. The Leaside Residents Association wants to hear from you!

Holding our monthly board meetings and discussions in public is an important commitment of the LRA, and thanks to technology we can maintain accessibility to these meetings via Zoom. During this period of social distancing, we want to continue to be as accessible as possible.

If you wish to be a deputant or part of a deputation to the LRA’s online June 3rd meeting at 7:30 p.m., please contact us by that date (lpoa.ca) and we will give you the information to link to it. Please do not hesitate to contact us.

About Carol Burtin Fripp 91 Articles
Carol Burtin Fripp is Co-President of the Leaside Residents Association, and is Chair of the LRA's Traffic Committee. Over the years, she has served on numerous East York and City task forces. Now a retired television producer (TVO and CBC), she writes Leaside Life's monthly LRA column, and has created a daily international current affairs newsletter read from Newfoundland to New Zealand.