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Yonge Street to be Pedestrian and Bike-Friendly?

Really interesting story from the Ryerson EyeOpener (and picked up by BlogTO) – that the crowded stretch of Yonge between Gerrard and Dundas may soon be changing to better accommodate traffic.  By traffic, we mean pedestrian traffic.

Anyone who lives or works or spends any time in this area knows that the narrow sidewalks of Yonge on this stretch are frequently packed with people (even in the winter!) and is perhaps the best street candidate for some pedestrian-friendly improvements.

A recent meeting brought together City Councillors, Ryerson faculty and staff as well as community members to talk about the possibilities for the street:

The area is under talks to open as a pedestrian laneway. Similar to the closure of Gould Street this year, there was overwhelming support in favour of pedestranizing this strip on Yonge.

This closure would be the second time Yonge Street has been closed down as it had been a pedestrian only street in the 1970s.

This move would be introduced as a pilot project in the summer months, said [Councillor Kristyn] Wong-Tam.

If the pilot project doesn’t go through, Yonge Street instead might see larger sidewalks and bike lanes.

Wong-Tam also said the mixture of heavy commercialization at the Yonge-Dundas end into the smaller storefronts further up the street doesn’t allow the area to create a feel of unity within the community.

This is excellent news… that so many diverse groups are behind such a proposal … and that they recognize that something needs to be done in this area.

I think the widened sidewalks and bikelanes back-up plan has the greatest possibility of happening, as it’s a compromise between “cars” and “non-cars” … and even this would do a TON to alleviate pedestrian congestion on Yonge, as well as encourage more economic activity at adjacent businesses.

[top photo of 1972 Summer pedestrian mall on Yonge from City of Toronto archives, via the Spacing Flickr photostream, bottom photo from Wikimedia Commons, via BlogTO]

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