Were you excited to learn that our Neighbourhood Transportation Plan was moving ahead? It was a hot topic at the most recent meeting of Cycle Don Valley Midtown, the local chapter of Cycle Toronto.
Members of the group who live in Leaside (full disclosure: I am one of them) see it as a timely opportunity to make our neighbourhood safer and more enjoyable for everyone. The plan’s stated goals to address road safety for vulnerable road users, excessive speeding and cut-through traffic are something I think we can all agree on, whether we drive, walk, ride a bike or take transit.
“Leafy Leaside” is changing quickly, with increased density and intensification proceeding along Line 5 Eglinton Crosstown LRT. We know that we can’t turn back the clock and miraculously reduce traffic in the area. Our focus needs to be on managing and mitigating the impact of higher vehicle traffic to ensure safe and efficient travel for everyone. The good news is that Toronto already has the policies, tools and plans on hand to do this.
Vision Zero prioritizes actions to reduce deaths and injuries on our roads to zero. Toronto Complete Streets Guidelines details the road designs needed to get us there. And the TransformTO Climate Action target of having 75% of trips to work and school of 5km or less walked, biked or on transit by 2030 provides the motivation to get it done. Furthermore, already approved plans, such as Laird in Focus and Eglinton Connects Streetscape, need to be implemented if we are to have a liveable neighbourhood that supports multi-modal mobility and calmer traffic, and protects vulnerable road users, particularly seniors and parents with young children.
With proposed high-quality cycling infrastructure on Eglinton and Laird, Leaside will have a complete street on two of its arterials. Remaking Bayview as a complete street would enhance connections for people to the schools and institutions along Bayview to the north and to downtown via the Bayview Extension and Nesbitt Drive to Sherbourne. And within the neighbourhood, a network of safe routes will encourage more people to make those shorter trips by bike and aid in traffic calming and pedestrian safety.
So, what could a Cycling Network Plan for Leaside look like? The rendering above illustrates the possibilities.
None of these routes represents a quick win and will require consultation, analysis and thoughtful design. But Leaside has the potential to be a leader in achieving the goals of Vision Zero and TransformTO while making our neighbourhood a safer and more pleasant place to be. A Neighbourhood Transportation Plan that prioritizes active transportation and protects the most vulnerable is how we can do it.
Holly Reid is a recreational road rider and cycling commuter. An advocate for safe cycling, she is a member of Cycle Don Valley Midtown, Cycle Toronto’s advocacy group for Wards 15/16.