Toronto's plan to open streets for cyclists and pedestrians has been a huge success

The City of Toronto announced a plan in early May to close portions of major roads to cars on weekends in an effort to provide more space for pedestrians and cyclists, and new data shows that it's been largely successful. 

The first weekend that all major road closures were in place was May 23-24, and city staff collected and verified data from that weekend to determine just how many pedestrians and cyclists took advantage of it.

"The data confirmed that the routes are a very popular option for people walking, running and on bikes who need space along Toronto's busiest trails," reads a release from the city

Here are the city's peak counts from Saturday, May 23 (the numbers for both Lake Shore Boulevard West and East include the road closure and the adjacent Martin Goodman Trail and/or boardwalk):

  • 21,000 people on bikes and 4,400 pedestrians on Lake Shore Boulevard West at Ontario Drive
  • 5,000 people on bikes and 5,400 pedestrians on Lake Shore Boulevard East, east of Coxwell Avenue
  • 4,700 people on bikes and 1,000 pedestrians on Bayview Avenue, north of River Street. Plus 3,400 people on bikes and 750 pedestrians on the adjacent Don Valley Trail

City staff completed these counts over eight hours (from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.) on both days of the weekend, but counts for Sunday were slightly lower and came in at about 75 per cent of those on Saturday.

The city is once again planning three separate road closures near major parks or trails this weekend, amounting to more than 10 km of open space for pedestrians and bikers to properly physically distance while enjoying the outdoors. 

Here are the ActiveTO road closures that will be in place this weekend from Saturday at 6 a.m. to Sunday at 11 p.m.:

  • Lake Shore Boulevard West (eastbound lanes only) from Windermere Avenue to Stadium Road. As a result, the eastbound Gardiner Expressway off ramp to Lake Shore Boulevard West (exit #146) will also be closed
  • Lake Shore Boulevard East (eastbound lanes only) from Leslie Street to just south of Woodbine Avenue (Kew Beach Avenue)
  • Bayview Avenue from Front Street East to Rosedale Valley Road, and River Street from Gerrard Street East to Bayview Avenue

These road closures are just one part of the city's ActiveTO plan, which also includes a quick expansion of Toronto's cycling network and 65 kilometres of "quiet streets": small neighbourhood streets with signange to encourage slow, local vehicle access only. 

According to the city, work on the University Avenue/Queen's Park Crescent bike lane, which will run between Adelaide Street West and Bloor Street West, is set to begin this week. 

 Design and installation planning are also well underway for routes along Bloor Street between Avenue Road and Sherbourne Street, and Bayview Avenue between River Street and Rosedale Valley Road.

Separated, permanent bike lanes along Douro Street/Wellington Street are also set to be installed later this week. 

"ActiveTO is a well-timed, well-executed sensible yet comprehensive program that is creating a network of space for people to get out and move all around Toronto during the COVID-19 pandemic," Mayor John Tory said in the release. 

"This data reinforces what I've been hearing; that residents, including families, like these spaces because they allow for safe physical activity and those using them feel more comfortable and secure that they are doing their part to stop virus spread."

Lead photo by

Jeremy Gilbert

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