In April 2021, Toronto City Council approved the installation of a temporary Complete Street Pilot on Yonge Street between Bloor Street and Davisville Avenue as part of the City’s Pandemic Mobility Recovery Strategy.
Yonge Street is proposed to be transformed into a complete street through the CaféTO and ActiveTO programs, which were both created in 2020 as quick-start COVID-19 response programs. CaféTO provided urgent support to hundreds of local restaurants and ActiveTO has connected the City’s cycling network like never before.
The pilot will provide support for local businesses and surrounding communities by expanding outdoor patio areas, improving safety and comfort for everyone, and providing a safe and protected bike lane along the Line 1 subway.
Complete Street Pilot installation details
Cycle tracks (protected bicycle lanes) on both sides of the street.
Temporary expanded patios for restaurants along the corridor that have applied and received approval through the City’s CaféTO program. The protected bike lanes will temporarily bend around the expanded curb lane cafés.
New 24/7 on-street parking/loading opportunities.
Artistic curb extensions to beautify the street and improve pedestrian safety at key intersections.
Improved street environment for transit users and space for accessible TTC bus stops, shuttle locations and Wheel-Trans.
Installation Timeline (June-July 2021)
Phase 1, Imperial Street to Woodlawn Avenue (COMPLETED):
The essential line markings, CaféTOs, southbound barrier curbs, bollards and planters have been installed.
CaféTOs were ready to open on June 19.
The lane closure was removed on June 21. Most barrels have been removed.
Phase 2, Woodlawn Avenue to Bloor Street (COMPLETED):
The essential line markings, CaféTOs, southbound barrier curbs, bollards and planters have been installed.
CaféTOs were ready to open on June 26.
The work zone was removed on June 27, sooner than anticipated.
Phase 3, Davisville Avenue to Charles Street East (WE ARE HERE):
The accessible loading platforms, green markings at bus stops, artistic curb extensions and buffers, northbound curb stones/bollards and any curb stones/bollards to be placed on artistic coating remain to be installed in July.
Signage to be completed once new pole locates have been received.
Line markings south of Bloor Street to Charles Street East will be installed once the Toronto Water work zone at 1 Bloor Street has completed in the coming weeks.
Stakeholder meetings with business, resident and community organizations are ongoing.
June: Installation (2-3 week duration)
July 2021 – April 30, 2022: Pilot timeline with monitoring
Early 2022 – Post Installation Report Back to Council
The City of Toronto is inviting people to learn more about and provide feedback on this new pilot project. This is an opportunity to test new ideas quickly and cost-effectively, and be adaptable to community needs.
Public consultation will be conducted online, by phone and by mail only. This is based on the expert advice of our Medical Officer of Health to practice physical distancing, to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and to protect the health and safety of Toronto residents and our staff.
Virtual Public Meeting
The City hosted a virtual public meeting on April 27, 2021, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. The meeting was attended by over 300 participants.
Before and after studies will include a safety review (collision data within and adjacent to corridor), volumes for all modes at key intersections (motor vehicles, people walking and people on bikes) and travel time analysis. Pending public health restrictions, intercept surveys will be conducted to understand the user perspective of the Yonge Street Midtown Complete Street Pilot with particular attention to vulnerable road users, and increasing safe and equitable access to active modes of transportation.
Turn restrictions to local streets:
Minimizing impacts to local traffic patterns on side streets is a key consideration in the design. The design will consider: signal coordination and timing to reduce the attractiveness of traffic diversion onto local streets; traffic calming at intersections to deter short-cutting; and turn restrictions at strategic intersections.
Ensuring transit reliability when the subway is closed:
Transportation Services continues to work with TTC staff to ensure the design adequately accommodates TTC bus stops, minimizes the impact to transit, and improves the street environment for transit users. Wheel-Trans and accessibility needs are also key considerations in the proposed design.
TTC prioritizes keeping customers moving upon any closures and identifying key locations to move buses more quickly. In particular, the retention of a second southbound travel lane between Davisville Avenue/Chaplin Crescent and Heath Street will help keep service moving. As part of normal subway shuttle operations, TTC works with TTC agents as well as Toronto Police to have police assistance in moving buses through busy intersections where delays can occur.
EMS vehicles during blocked one lane situations:
Fire, Paramedic and Police Services staff are part of the City’s internal and agency circulation process on the detailed design and safe access for emergency vehicles is a fundamental part of the project design process. Staff use a number of tools, standards, and guidelines to support vehicle maneuverability, while balancing road safety. These tools include vehicle turning “swept path” simulations, as well as roadway standards and the City of Toronto’s Lane Width Guidelines, which were developed in consultation with emergency services.
Vision Zero principles included:
The Vision Zero Road Safety Plan is a guiding principle and works to prioritize vulnerable road users with initiatives like separated space for people on bikes; artistic curb extensions to reduce crossing distances; and ensure drivers turn slowly. Signal timing as well as loading and parking strategies will also help avoid accidents.
Staff are reviewing design options to control speeds and ensure safe interactions between all people using the street.
Avoiding conflicts for cyclists (especially going downhill):
Studies from Toronto and other cities have shown that by introducing cycling infrastructure, speeding by drivers decreases and thus reduces the number of collisions. This benefits all road users, especially the most vulnerable.
Staff is recommending reducing the speed limit to 40km/h within the pilot area which will be presented to the Infrastructure & Environment Committee Meeting on May 25, 2021.
Incorporating intersection improvements for pedestrians and accessibility:
Locations for accessible parking, pick-up and drop-off are under review.
In Spring 2021, Transportation Service’s Operations and Maintenance Section will commence a pilot program using city crews for dedicated inspection, maintenance and localized repairs on bikeways to meet the growing demand for a proactive maintenance program.
Debris removal from bike lanes:
The City will regularly sweep the cycle tracks. The goal is to maintain them every other day, but will depend on potential delays with the purchasing of additional sweepers.
Snow maintenance, including the cycle tracks, will be conducted as needed.
Maintaining damaged items:
There will also be contractors responsible for regularly maintaining and watering planters.
Business and CaféTO
Considering switching café section with existing sidewalk:
One of the primary principals of the CaféTO program is the need to ensure that our sidewalks remain accessible for all users. It is important that pedestrians have a straight and predictable path of travel, especially for those with no or low vision so that people using our sidewalks can travel safely.
Separating cafés from traffic lanes:
Cafés will be surrounded by the bike lanes. The bike lanes will be protected from vehicular traffic with concrete curbs and posts. There will be black planters and posts separating the bike lane from the cafe areas. The enclosures will be robustly protected with buffer space (bike lane) between cafés and traffic.
Where there are curb lane cafés, the speed limit will be 40 km/h.
Pilot providing for temporary stopping for food delivery drivers and ride hail:
Loading and parking will be provided along the corridor.
Retailers using outdoor sidewalk space for commerce:
There is an opportunity for retailers to access, without registration or application, space on the sidewalk with requirements that store owners must maintain, including maintenance of the pedestrian path of travel on the sidewalk, and certain size restrictions. More information on small marketing displays available in the CafeTO guidebook, on page 42 – https://www.toronto.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/92ca-TSCafeTO-Guidelines2021.pdf
Reference Projects & Lessons Learned
Using lessons learned from other projects to inform design on Yonge:
It is important to monitor and make adjustments on an ongoing basis in order to respond to different needs. For example, concerns related to lane reductions resulting in an increase or traffic on parallel streets can be addressed with turn lane restrictions as well as employing traffic data and multi-mode counts to inform the design modifications.
Installation of bollards onto curb stones is preventing some of the issues with the flex-posts.
Considering social distancing on sidewalks (sometimes narrow):
Public Health restrictions will guide the opening of CaféTO.
Staff have been working with Business Improvement Area’s to identify street cluttering and the city is reviewing the removal of obstacles that impede pedestrian movement.
Pilot introducing more green space:
Streetscape plans will include hundreds of planters along the corridor with perennial planting along the cafés and along the cycle tracks with regular maintenance.
Opportunities for artwork and beautification:
We will be integrating “artistic curb extensions.” These street murals will be designed to reflect the different characters of Yonge Street while helping improve pedestrian safety.
Determining final configuration and building cafés before the bike lane:
The first window of curb lane CaféTO installations has been completed and businesses await the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions to offer outdoor dining.
Building now since everything is closed and street closures:
The Complete Street Pilot will be installed in late June. Design details are being finalized in consultation with internal partners, agencies and stakeholders including Business Improvement Areas (BIA), resident associations and community organizations. The design will be finalized by June and installation is planned for June/July. Curb lane cafés will be temporarily closed during the install. Partial lane closures will occur between June 13 and 30 for essential elements. Priority will be given to minimize CaféTO disruptions. Green markings and artistic curb extensions will follow in July.
Big decisions to make the project permanent:
Staff will conduct a Before and After Study (including safety, volumes, travel time and public perception) and report back to Council in early 2022.
There are several ways to participate in meetings from submitting a question via typed Q&A, using the raise hand function (phone and computer) or sending feedback to the project email or phone line in advance.
Enabling chat function during meeting so community members can discuss topics amongst themselves:
During our virtual meetings, the Question and Answer panel is used in place of the Chat function so that staff can manage and respond to volume of questions and comments from participants. It would be a challenge to monitor both dialogue boxes for acceptable use such as use of coarse language, aggressive comments, intimidation or harassment.
All questions and comments received, and issues that are not responded to live in the meeting are followed up with through future project updates.
The pilot project area includes Yonge Street between Bloor Street as the south limit and Davisville Avenue as the north limit.
April 7, 2021, City Council approved the General Manager, Transportation Services, to continue to consult, design, install and monitor the ActiveTO Midtown Complete Street Pilot in collaboration with the local Councillors and stakeholders and as part of the ActiveTO Cycling Network Expansion Projects.
Supplementary report on TTC Impacts of the Complete Street Pilot included.
Transportation Services continues to work with TTC staff to ensure the proposed design adequately accommodates TTC bus stops, minimizes the impact to transit, and improves the street environment for transit users. Wheel-Trans and accessibility needs are also key considerations in the proposed design.
The Pilot may inform other local transportation aspects, such as potential Bus Rapid Transit routes as part of the Midtown Infrastructure Implementation Strategies in the Midtown in Focus Final Report.
Business-specific issues to be reviewed through BIA Site Walks (in compliance with public health restrictions) and addressed throughout pilot delivery and monitoring.
Every effort will be made for all restaurants and bars fronting Yonge Street in the Pilot area to receive a curb lane café, provided they meet all other requirements of the CaféTO program.
October 27, 2020, City Council approved the General Manager, Transportation Services, to consider and explore including, as part of either the 2021 update to the cycling network plan, the COVID-19 pandemic cycling network expansion response plan or potentially as part of the YongeTOmorrow process, a temporary protected bikeway along Yonge Street or parallel routes from Bloor Street to north of Lawrence Avenue in conjunction with on-street patios, road safety and traffic-calming measures, and other streetscape improvements identified through consultation with local businesses and community groups, following the complete streets approach applied to Danforth Avenue, with implementation by the second quarter of 2021, and iteration and evaluation throughout 2021.
July 23, 2018, City Council requested as part of Midtown in Focus that Yonge Street, Avenue Road and Mount Pleasant are Major Streets, identified in City Planning’s Midtown in Focus Yonge Eglinton Secondary Plan and Transportation Assessment, proposed to assess the feasibility of an optimal corridor(s) for dedicated (physically-separated) cycling infrastructure.
In February 2021, Transportation Services completed a corridor comparison analysis of Mount Pleasant Avenue, Avenue Road and Yonge Street to determine the strongest corridor for a complete streets transformation pilot project.
Yonge Street was identified as the preferred corridor due to:
Highest potential for business benefits based on mixed-use land uses, employment along corridor and concentrations of BIAs compared to the alternatives
Demand for improvements as demonstrated through requests for CaféTO curb lane cafés as well as fewer anticipated parking impacts
Demonstrated need for safety improvements based on collision trends
Overall importance of the corridor to the cycling network considering the Cycling Network Plan prioritization process, topography and current bike share utilization
Policy support for complete streets and role of the corridor in placemaking along with lower vehicular volumes throughout compared to the alternatives
Yonge Street Corridor Overview
The ActiveTO Midtown Complete Street Pilot on Yonge Street between Bloor Street and Davisville Avenue (3.2 kilometres) is proposed to result in:
A safer and more inviting street for all, including accessible features, additional pedestrian space, and streetscape beautification
Capacity relief to north-south Line 1 subway
Space for TTC bus stops and shuttles
New and expanded café options through CaféTO to support local restaurants
Dedicated space for vehicle and bicycle parking, loading / deliveries, and Bike Share stations
Protected bike lanes (cycle tracks) to connect people safely to their destinations and existing on street and off-street cycling routes
More room for physical distancing
Streets are vital places in Toronto, now more than ever. They are also the common space where our city comes together. Streets are where children learn to ride bicycles, neighbours meet, and couples stroll. Streets are the front door of our businesses, homes, parks, and institutions. They form essential networks that move people and goods safely and efficiently in our growing city.
The ActiveTO Midtown Complete Street Pilot on Yonge Street, between Bloor Street and Davisville Avenue, would be designed for people, for placemaking, and for prosperity.
Streets are places where everyone should feel safe, comfortable, and connected.
Streets should reflect the existing and planned function, scale and character of the neighbourhoods and communities that surround them, respecting the local context.
Streets are vital to the economy and our city’s prosperity. Streets are the front door to many businesses and need to accommodate deliveries, goods movement and more.
A five kilometre stretch of Danforth Avenue installed in 2020 is demonstrating that using a complete streets approach can quickly deliver social, economic and environmental benefits to Toronto’s main streets.
The streetscape design elements for ActiveTO Midtown include:
Planters placed along curb lane cafés, ends of parking areas and other strategic locations
Painted buffer areas and flex posts on concrete curbs to separate the bike lane from parking and traffic
Curb extensions designed to visually and physically narrow the roadway at intersections, slow vehicle traffic and reduce the crossing distance, and provide more space for pedestrians
Accessibility features including shortened crossing distances, platforms at key locations, unobstructed loading for high use Wheel-Trans locations
Improved street environment for transit users and space for accessible TTC bus stops and shuttle locations
Cycle tracks with curb stones
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