Toronto will close some curb lanes to make room for pedestrians and parking
Following endless calls for the city to do something about some of the narrow downtown sidewalks that make it nearly impossible for residents to practice safe social distancing, city officials have announced a new plan to address more than 100 "hot spots" throughout Toronto.
Speaking at the city's daily press briefing Monday afternoon, Toronto Mayor John Tory announced CurbTO — a new approach that will see curb lanes blocked off in places "where there is sidewalk crowding and temporary parking concerns around essential businesses."
He said city staff have worked to identify key hot spots where there are lineups or pinch points on sidewalks that have been deemed problematic by public health and transportation officials, and the city will begin rolling out fixes at an initial 10 spots across the city starting today
Proud to launch the City’s #CurbTO plan – a common sense initiative to address more than 100 hot spots in our city. With 10 sites ready to go, this plan will expand to more than 100 locations across the city and further protect our residents from #COVID19. pic.twitter.com/WzfdrYIj92— John Tory (@JohnTory) April 27, 2020
The first 10 hot spots are:
Each spot has been identified as a either a Curb Lane Pedestrian Zone —which will increase space for pedestrians trying to get around line-ups outside essential businesses and other pinch points — or a Temporary Parking Pick-Up Zone, which will allow drivers and delivery agents to expedite medicine and food pick-ups by allowing them to temporarily park for up to 10 minutes in close proximity to the desired essential business in otherwise restricted parking areas.
Some of the hot spots also fit into both categories.
Toronto Public Health is recommending using curb lanes on streets to support physical distancing where grocery stores, pharmacies and food banks need extra sidewalk space for line-ups. The City and our Transportation Services team will start rolling out these measures right away. pic.twitter.com/G6U7X0Y34H— Joe Cressy (@joe_cressy) April 27, 2020
"Primarily the hot spots are where there is sidewalk crowding and temporary parking concerns around essential businesses," notes a release from the city.
"Grocery stores, pharmacies, restaurants/bars and community agencies are increasingly offering pick-up, take-out and delivery services and have created store access queues to maintain physical distancing requirements as recommended by Toronto Public Health."
All designated hot spots will have signs to identify the temporary conditions, and signs will also be provided to operators who would like to remind patrons to maintain appropriate physical distancing while waiting in line.
"Each location will have unique conditions that will be assessed carefully by Toronto Public Health and Transportation Services staff to develop the most appropriate solution," the release indicates.
"In some cases, city staff may be able to suggest line-up configurations to the business operator that alleviates crowding concerns. In other cases, a temporary curb lane closure may be the most effective response."
Businesses that are struggling with crowding outside their establishments can apply to be considred a hot spot and learn more about eligibility criteria and program guidelines online.
In coming weeks, this program will be expanded to 100 hotspot areas across the city. Businesses, BIAs, residents and City Councillors can submit requests for Curb Lane Pedestrian Zones in their area. More information will be available shortly online along with a map of locations.— Joe Cressy (@joe_cressy) April 27, 2020
"Transportation and mobility in all forms will be key parts of the city's recovery and restart process," Tory said in the release.
"I have made it clear to Toronto Public Health and Transportation Services that we want those options fully examined and included where appropriate as we implement the plan to reopen our city once we have reached the appropriate thresholds with respect to the virus itself."
Pedestrian and cyclist advocates have been calling for some kind of government intervention on this issue for weeks now. And though this measure isn't necessarily what everyone had in mind, some are saying it's certainly a start.
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