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Pedestrian-Only Zones Coming This Fall to Toronto

[NOTE: BikingToronto occasionally posts about public space and non-bike related news.  BikingToronto believes that cycling infrastructure is NOT the panacea that some cycling “advocates” believe it to be.  It’s good to have bikelanes and stuff, but the prioritizing and politicization of bike infrastructure over infrastructure for other modes of transport is ill-conceived and ultimately ineffective.  Cyclists will bike on streets that *feel* safe, whether they have bikelanes or not.  If this is achieved by improvements that make a street more people-friendly, then it’s good for cyclists too, because the street will be safer.]

Door Prize Central by 'Xander @416cyclestyle.

Sharing the Road - photo by Xander N-Dante (click for original)

A public forum last week called “Sharing the Streets” unsurprisingly called for more bike and pedestrian infrastructure on Toronto’s streets:

The discussion, called Sharing the Streets, was co-sponsored by the Star and the Toronto Public Library as part of a series of public forums on civic issues. Panelists included Bambrick, urban planner Ellen Greenwood, urban adviser Gil Panelosa and Fiona Chapman, who oversees Toronto’s pedestrian projects.

It’s interesting that no “pro-car” speaker took part (or was invited?)… since it would be useful to have a moderate voice from this mode of transportation as well.

Here’s a quote from the Bike Union’s Yvonne Bambrick:

“We have 5,600 kilometres of road in this city and only 123 kilometres of bike lanes, so we have a hell of a long way to go to give cyclists a real voice,” said cycling advocate Yvonne Bambrick. “We all pay for our roadways, so there should be a way to share them.”

It should be noted that cyclists can use *any* of the 5,600 km of roads in Toronto (provided this figure does not include the Gardiner, DVP or 401) and we should not stick to just roads with bikelanes (we wouldn’t be able to get around if we did).

The point of the forum was “Sharing the Streets” and the “Complete Streets” movement – designing roads that are hospitable to pedestrians, cyclists, transit-users and drivers.

Two pedestrian-only streets approved for this fall:

Toronto plans to pilot test two pedestrian zones this fall: parts of Gould St. and Bond St. on the campus of Ryerson University, and Willcocks St. between Huron St. and St. George St. at the University of Toronto.

“It’s a great idea — it restores the public realm to pedestrians,” said cycling advocate Tom Flaherty. “I grew up in Ottawa which has the Sparks St. pedestrian mall. Many other cities have them.”

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