Toronto removes curb lane patios from Bloor Street for new bike lane
Restaurants and bars along Bloor are saying goodbye to their newly introduced curb lane patios as they make way for new bike lanes that will take a month to complete.
The patios were short-lived, for most: the city first introduced curb lane closures last month as part of their CafeTO program to help businesses safely expand during Stage 2 of the province's reopening plan.
The initiative saw restaurants and bars ctiywide take over parts of the street with new outdoor seating that, while limited in size, aided in drumming up some extra profit for businesses that would otherwise be closed.
But that era has ended for any patios that sprung up on Bloor between Shaw and Runnymede.
This is the last weekend of our curblane patio before the city scoots us over to install new bike lanes. For the rest of the warm-weather season—as we have decided to remain in Phase 2—our patio vibes will continue on the sidewalk and in our new backyard oasis! Our curbside Pantry & Bottleshop will continue to operate as usual. If you're staycationing this long weekend, drop by for a boozy slushy! 😎
As of Tuesday, construction on the Bloor West Bikeway Extension has begun. City "grinding trucks" have removed old pavement markings that once separated the lanes next to the sidewalks, making way for what will be 4.5-kilometres of new protected bike lanes.
Bars like Civil Liberties, who installed their curb lane patio on July 6, have packed up their 24-seater by Bloor and Ossington, a temporary addition owner Nick Kennedy says was hugely helpful during the pandemic.
"It very much benefited our business, we hired our staff back," says Kennedy.
Though the cocktail bar won't be opening up its interior until "better information from the medical community," they do have a backyard patio that seats 32 people, though lower visibility will mean less foot traffic and overall slower business.
Kennedy says in the long run, the bike lanes will be an "excellent addition to the neighbourhood," though the timing of construction "could be better."
Grey Tiger on Bloor near Dufferin has also lost its curb lane patio, but has announced a new backyard patio to supplement its already existing sidewalk seating while they close off the interior until further notice.
That’s not a fire truck. It’s a million dollar “grinding truck” that will grind off the old pavement markings to allow the new lines to be painted in for the bike lanes. #Bloorcourt pic.twitter.com/Gu99hgDZJv— Bloorcourt (@Bloorcourt_BIA) August 4, 2020
Meanwhile, some businesses like The John didn't bother opening up a patio at all when CafeTO first launched because of the upcoming bike construction.
"I would have gotten about two weeks use of it and to spend a lot of money to build a patio made no sense to me," says The John's general manager, Eric Jordan.
Instead, the craft beer destination will be reopening its interior soon, with limited capacity.
But overall, there's a general sense of excitement around the fact there'll be bike lanes running along Bloor, even if it comes at the cost of patios and added noise during construction.
"We're excited to bike to work if we can keep work afloat during this pandemic," says Kennedy.
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