In pictures: traffic, pedestrian and bike lanes on Yonge Street
March 15, 2018
By Arianne Robinson
City council will soon be faced with deciding the future of the northern stretch of Yonge Street, between Sheppard Avenue and Finch Avenue.
The area is filled with heavy traffic and congestion; cars lining up and down on Yonge Street, drivers eager to get downtown or onto Highway 401.
There are also many homes, condos, and developments nearby. City staff call it “among the densest residential areas in the City of Toronto,” in their recent report on the northern stretch of Yonge Street.
The diverging interests are a common problem for municipalities. How to design streets so residents can get around safely in whatever way they choose – on foot, transit, bicycle, or car – is the political puzzle that challenges urban leaders who have the tricky job of making room for everyone, while not appearing to slow the city down in the process.
In the immediate future, the pavement on Yonge is in desperate need of repair. City staff have offered two plans through an Environmental Assessment process.
The first plan focuses on Yonge Street (called Transform Yonge), and adds bike lanes on Yonge Street, reducing the number of car lanes in the process.
The second plan focuses on the streets adjacent to Yonge (called Enhance Yonge and Transform Beecroft), and puts bike lanes on Doris Avenue and/or Beecroft Road, and doesn’t limit car-lane capacity on Yonge.
City planners prefer the first plan, which they created based on the repair need, and follow the direction of various safety and cycling policies created by council over the years. The local city councillor, John Filion, has thrown his support behind the plan to have bike lanes on Yonge Street. The Medical Officer of Health stands behind both plans.
Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti said at the January Public Works and Infrastructure Committee meeting that he wants an election on the issue.
Mayor John Tory, neighbouring councillor David Shiner, and the new leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario Doug Ford have said they do not support bike lanes on Yonge Street. (Ford’s comments were made as a public deputant at the January PWIC meeting, before he was chosen to lead the provincial party.)
At the centre of the debate is the question of whether bike lanes and fast traffic can coexist along a commercial strip like Yonge, or whether the inclusion of cycle tracks will slow down traffic flow.
In the spirit of a good old-fashioned online deep dive, we’ve tried to capture all the facets of the issue – in photos.
Starting near Sheppard Avenue and going up to the Hydro corridor, we’ll take you along the streets and sidewalks, where new surfaces and bike lanes will one day exist.
Yonge & Sheppard
Yonge & Finch
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