ActiveTO has been a brilliant success. So of course the ‘War on the Car’ knives are out

The problem with Toronto’s ActiveTO program is its popularity. And the problem with the most prominent part of ActiveTO – the reason Toronto City Council is under pressure to kill it – is that it’s been the most popular and successful part of the program.

In the summer of 2020, Toronto on some weekends banished cars from short stretches of a few streets.

The biggest and longest of these routes involved the eastbound lanes of Lake Shore Boulevard West. Six kilometres of pavement, running from the massed condo towers of Humber Bay Shores to the massed condo towers of Liberty Village, Fort York and Harbourfront, were turned over to bikes and walkers. The result? The city found that “more people use Lake Shore Boulevard West to bike, go for a walk or run when the ActiveTO closures are in place when compared to motor vehicle volumes when closures are not in place.”

On May 16, 2021, for example, the city counted 34,000 cyclists and 5,000 pedestrians in the car-free eastbound lanes. In the business-as-usual westbound lanes, 8,500 cars drove by. (Toronto has not put more recent data online.)

Clearly something has to be done about this; if it keeps going and growing, people might start getting ideas. It might become contagious. It might become – oh dread – permanent.

Read more at the Globe and Mail