Work on Destination Danforth, including bike lanes, set to begin in middle of July

This artist's conception of the one of the plans for Destination Danforth shows bike lanes and extended patio space. Image: City of Toronto.

By ALI RAZA, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Design details of the Destination Danforth pilot project were revealed at a recent public meeting, with initial installations expected in mid-July.

Danforth East Community Association and Beaches-East York Councillor Brad Bradford hosted the virtual public meeting attended by more than 200 people combined over Zoom and Facebook Live on June 22. Pilot design elements were shared and Bradford took feedback, questions, and comments from residents.

“There was a range of perspectives as you’d expect on a project of this scale but overall the feedback was positive,” Bradford said.

“We really saw the community recognizing the need to get behind our local businesses, and starting to think differently about how we can get around as a result of the pandemic.”

Destination Danforth follows the extensive Danforth Study, first launched in 2016, that aims to improve the one the city’s major avenues by looking at street design, road safety, economic vitality, and planning.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the increased need to support local businesses and safe public space, Destination Danforth will launch as a pilot in mid-July with immediate improvements slated for Danforth Avenue between Broadview Avenue and Dawes Road.

“The decision to go ahead with the project was made at the May 2020 Council meeting,” Bradford said. “This meeting was a discussion the design details – what we need to be thinking about in terms of the Danforth safer and more beautiful, making sure we’re getting the patios,  parking and loading right and, hearing about people’s priorities.”

The pilot’s principles are aimed to supporting local businesses, activating “Main Street” recovery, provide safe walking and cycling infrastructure, and provide adequate room for physical distancing while beautifying the street.

It means Danforth will see 24/7 parking lanes on both sides of the street, loading areas for businesses, a dedicated cycling lane with curbs and posts to improve cycling safety and support for all ages and abilities.

For Danforth’s many bars, restaurants, and cafes, the expanded patio option will occupy the curb lane and temporarily replace on-street parking on that side of the road. A cycle track will deviate further in, with buffers between driving lanes, cycling lanes, and patio space.

The need for expanded patio space comes at a time when restaurants are reopening with physical distancing guidelines. While the need for cycling has risen as TTC ridership has sharply fallen resulting from COVID-19.

The project will be delivered in multiple phases with initial installations expected in July.

Engagement with the BIA office, local BIAs, businesses, resident associations, and members of the public began on June 1.

Phase 1 construction – which includes expanded patio space in permitted areas, planters, curb extensions, cycling tracks, bike parking, Bike Share installation, and street art components – will start mid-July 2020.

Phase 2, which includes ongoing monitoring, design modifications, murals, street art, following more community consultation with feedback from Phase 1, is expected to be implemented in 2021.

Long term implementation follows the full Danforth Study and a host of design modifications, new pedestrian crossings, and other improvements, expected 2021 and beyond.

  • Ali Raza is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter for Beach Metro News. His reporting is funded by the Government of Canada through its Local Journalism Initiative.

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