For cyclist Shane Yewchyn, ActiveTO is what helped him get through the pandemic.
“It was one of the few fun things we were allowed to do during the lockdown,” he said. “It got me out, and without it, my mental health could have been worse.”
Yewchyn looks forward to permanent cycling routes, and hopes the city continues to further accommodate riders.
“I think all streets in the downtown area should have bike lanes,” he said. “The lanes should also have concrete barricades to separate cyclists from cars, it’s just safer.”
The city announced last December that seven ActiveTO cycling routes are becoming permanent.
The plan also calls to also add 100 kilometres of bike routes to the city between 2022 and 2024.
Some of the seven permanent routes include Bloor Street between Avenue Road and Sherbourne Street, Danforth Avenue between Broadview Avenue and Dawes Road, and Wilmington Avenue between Finch Avenue West and Sheppard Avenue West.
ActiveTO started in summer 2020 to get people outside and active as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The initiative started by closing roads like Lake Shore Boulevard West during the day on Saturdays and Sundays for cyclists, skateboarders, walkers and runners.
Eventually, it spread to other routes and designated bike lanes.
“The ActiveTO bike network was intended as a quick and safe way to help us through the pandemic,” Toronto Mayor John Tory said in a news release.
“Making these routes permanent and making plans to extend the network even further where it makes sense, is the right and responsible thing to do and it will help more people get around our city safely by bike,” Tory said.
The city of Toronto reported that the number of people cycling on these seven routes increased by about 65 per cent — to 2,870 riders after 2020 from 1,930 riders before 2020 just on the Bloor Street route.
Road safety and reduced travel times for drivers was also noted by city staff.
“Cycling provides exercise and helps the environment through a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions,” Jennifer McKelvie, chair of Toronto’s infrastructure and environment committee, said in a March 22 news release providing updates about ActiveTO cycling expansions.
“With the warmer weather coming, more residents will be able to get outside and ride their bikes safely on the city’s growing cycling routes,” McKelvie said.