ActiveTO should be expanded as Toronto emerges from lockdown, activists say in response to councillor’s comments

The first long weekend under Step 3 of Ontario’s reopening plan has a Toronto city councillor questioning whether the ActiveTO program, which opens up major roads and thoroughfares for cyclists and pedestrians only, should operate at its current level.ActiveTO was launched in spring 2020 and took place on weekends until the fall to provide more space for the public to be active safely during the pandemic, as an antidote to the isolation many have faced indoors. But while one councillor is calling on the city to re-examine the extent of the program to free up more space for cars coming and going as Toronto emerges from over a year of lockdowns, others are emphasizing the need for public space free of cars and allowing the urban landscape to transition to active transportation.“As our city continues to open up ... restaurants, bars and all that stuff, it’s becoming more of a challenge to shut down the biggest arterial roads in the city,” said Michael Ford, councillor for Etobicoke North in an interview with the Star.“So I definitely think it’s time for council to reconsider and to work at which roadways we are closing,” he said, specifically pointing to Lake Shore Boulevard closures and the congestion heading into the city on Saturday. Ford appeared on CP24 Sunday morning to express his opinion about the popular program and the increased traffic he has noticed due to closed roads. After his appearance, Coun. Joe Cressy for Spadina-Fort York tweeted the program should be made permanent and expanded to improve Toronto.In a press release on June 30, the city said that ActiveTO remains a popular program and approximately 16,700 to 34,000 cyclists and 2,800 to 5,000 pedestrians were counted over a 15-hour period at Lake Shore Boulevard West and Ontario Drive in May.The city noted that measuring that data against weekends with no closures in place, it’s clear it’s a popular program. But they also noted that when the Lake Shore Boulevard West closure was in place, traffic data on the Gardiner Expressway and The Queensway showed travel times up to two and three times longer compared to weekends with no closures.This year the program is set to cost $2.8 million and it was significantly scaled back compared to 2020, with Lake Shore West being left out on several weekends so far due to simultaneous construction that would jam traffic further.Ford said Toronto has some of the best trails in the world meant for the public and now that the downtown core is bustling again, closing down major roads may make the reopening challenging. Kevin Rupasinghe, the campaign manager at Cycle Toronto, a charity focused on making cycling accessible, said calls to cancel or cut back the ActiveTO program are “misguided,” as pedestrians and cyclists still need a safe space to be out, especially as the pandemic isn’t over.“Some people might suggest that Toronto’s great trail network is enough space. But anyone who’s out there knows it’s insufficient. ActiveTO was introduced because our trails are too crowded,” he said. The popularity of ActiveTO shows that the public is shifting to engaging in more active transportation and many have picked up more outdoor hobbies like cycling due to COVID-19, he added.“We should not be too quick to try to go back to the way things were. There is a very strong appetite for more public space, more green space and more active transportation,” he said. Monitoring and adjusting the program to fit the public’s needs is fine, but to cut out major roads from the program would be a mistake, Rupasinghe said.The time of those in vehicles is not more valuable than thousands who use other methods, said Jessica Spieker, a spokesperson for advocacy group Friends and Families for Safe Streets.Not only do street closures keep pedestrians and cyclists safe, an expanded ActiveTO program to those who live outside the core could make the city more accessible, especially for those who don’t own a vehicle, she said.“A program like ActiveTO should be expanded widely ... and not be constantly whittled away by people who only care about convenience for car drivers,” Spieker said.“This is an issue of quality of life for residents of Toronto, and quality of life should come before convenience for driving,” she said. Olivia Bowden is a Toronto-based staff reporter for the Star. Reach her via email: obowden@thestar.ca

ActiveTO should be expanded as Toronto emerges from lockdown, activists say in response to councillor’s comments

The first long weekend under Step 3 of Ontario’s reopening plan has a Toronto city councillor questioning whether the ActiveTO program, which opens up major roads and thoroughfares for cyclists and pedestrians only, should operate at its current level.

ActiveTO was launched in spring 2020 and took place on weekends until the fall to provide more space for the public to be active safely during the pandemic, as an antidote to the isolation many have faced indoors.

But while one councillor is calling on the city to re-examine the extent of the program to free up more space for cars coming and going as Toronto emerges from over a year of lockdowns, others are emphasizing the need for public space free of cars and allowing the urban landscape to transition to active transportation.

“As our city continues to open up ... restaurants, bars and all that stuff, it’s becoming more of a challenge to shut down the biggest arterial roads in the city,” said Michael Ford, councillor for Etobicoke North in an interview with the Star.

“So I definitely think it’s time for council to reconsider and to work at which roadways we are closing,” he said, specifically pointing to Lake Shore Boulevard closures and the congestion heading into the city on Saturday.

Ford appeared on CP24 Sunday morning to express his opinion about the popular program and the increased traffic he has noticed due to closed roads. After his appearance, Coun. Joe Cressy for Spadina-Fort York tweeted the program should be made permanent and expanded to improve Toronto.

In a press release on June 30, the city said that ActiveTO remains a popular program and approximately 16,700 to 34,000 cyclists and 2,800 to 5,000 pedestrians were counted over a 15-hour period at Lake Shore Boulevard West and Ontario Drive in May.

The city noted that measuring that data against weekends with no closures in place, it’s clear it’s a popular program. But they also noted that when the Lake Shore Boulevard West closure was in place, traffic data on the Gardiner Expressway and The Queensway showed travel times up to two and three times longer compared to weekends with no closures.

This year the program is set to cost $2.8 million and it was significantly scaled back compared to 2020, with Lake Shore West being left out on several weekends so far due to simultaneous construction that would jam traffic further.

Ford said Toronto has some of the best trails in the world meant for the public and now that the downtown core is bustling again, closing down major roads may make the reopening challenging.

Kevin Rupasinghe, the campaign manager at Cycle Toronto, a charity focused on making cycling accessible, said calls to cancel or cut back the ActiveTO program are “misguided,” as pedestrians and cyclists still need a safe space to be out, especially as the pandemic isn’t over.

“Some people might suggest that Toronto’s great trail network is enough space. But anyone who’s out there knows it’s insufficient. ActiveTO was introduced because our trails are too crowded,” he said.

The popularity of ActiveTO shows that the public is shifting to engaging in more active transportation and many have picked up more outdoor hobbies like cycling due to COVID-19, he added.

“We should not be too quick to try to go back to the way things were. There is a very strong appetite for more public space, more green space and more active transportation,” he said.

Monitoring and adjusting the program to fit the public’s needs is fine, but to cut out major roads from the program would be a mistake, Rupasinghe said.

The time of those in vehicles is not more valuable than thousands who use other methods, said Jessica Spieker, a spokesperson for advocacy group Friends and Families for Safe Streets.

Not only do street closures keep pedestrians and cyclists safe, an expanded ActiveTO program to those who live outside the core could make the city more accessible, especially for those who don’t own a vehicle, she said.

“A program like ActiveTO should be expanded widely ... and not be constantly whittled away by people who only care about convenience for car drivers,” Spieker said.

“This is an issue of quality of life for residents of Toronto, and quality of life should come before convenience for driving,” she said.

Olivia Bowden is a Toronto-based staff reporter for the Star. Reach her via email: obowden@thestar.ca

Source : Toronto Star More   

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Tokyo Olympics Day 10: Andre De Grasse is Canada’s first male medallist this summer; U.S. shot-putter delivers first political demonstration on the podium

12:24 p.m.: Toronto sisters Lucia Stafford and Gabriela DeBues-Stafford will both move onto the women’s 1,500-metre semifinals after placing seventh and eighth in the qualifying round, respectively.Lucia set a personal best with a time of 4:03.52.11:50 p.m.: Atsushi Muramatsu’s handmade flyers are the size of a business card, written in several languages. “Welcome to Miyagi Stadium,“ one reads. ”The gymnasium next door was the largest morgue for tsunami victims.”Over a decade after the massive earthquake and tsunami devastated northeastern Japan, the Tokyo Games were supposed to offer a chance to showcase how much has been rebuilt. They were even billed as the “Recovery and Reconstruction Games,“ and the Olympic torch relay started from Fukushima prefecture, the heart of the nuclear disaster area.But the coronavirus pandemic means few spectators are coming to any of the Olympic events, including soccer and baseball, being held here. That leaves some Olympic volunteers having to find their own ways to recount their experiences to those rare fans who pass through, as well as members of the media.11:12 p.m. (Updated): In the morning, Raven Saunders of the United States captured the silver medal in the shot put.At night, Saunders delivered the first political demonstration on the podium at the Tokyo Olympics when she raised her arms and crossed them in the shape of an “X” after receiving her medal, setting the stage for a standoff between the International Olympic Committee and U.S. Olympic leaders. 10:03 p.m.: World champion Sifan Hassan made an incredible recovery from a fall at the final bell to win her 1,500-meter heat at the Olympics on Monday.Hassan picked herself up after getting in a tangle with Kenyan runner Edinah Jebitok at the start of the last lap. She sped around the outside of the pack on the back straight and ended up crossing the line first in 4 minutes, 5.17 seconds to qualify for the semifinals.It kept alive the Dutch runner's bid for a rare distance-running treble at the Tokyo Games.9:47 p.m.: Canada has sent its second team to the quarterfinals of the women's beach volleyball tournament at the Tokyo Olympics.Toronto's Melissa Humana-Paredes and Sarah Pavan of Kitchener, Ont., downed Spain's Liliana Fernandez Steiner and Elsa Baquerizo McMillan 2-0 in a round of 16 match on Monday.The Canadians overpowered the duo from Spain 21-13, 21-13.8:50 p.m.: Sydney Pickrem proved some Olympians are just like us after winning her first medal as part of the women’s 4x100-metre medley relay Sunday.The 24-year-old Canadian-American doesn’t specialize in the breaststroke — she typically swims the individual medley — but stepped up as Canada’s second swimmer in the pool. Kylie Masse opened with the backstroke and Pickrem’s role was to keep Canada in contention so that Maggie Mac Neil and Penny Oleksiak could close things out in the butterfly and freestyle legs.Catch up on Olympic notables with Laura Armstrong: Now streaming from Tokyo: Canadian swimmers say the darndest things8:35 p.m.: Micah Christenson gave coach John Speraw a long, tearful embrace as his U.S. men’s volleyball teammates slumped on the floor and the victorious Argentinians celebrated.Instead of building on the bronze medal won in Rio de Janeiro five years ago, the Americans are going home early from the Olympics for the first time in more than 20 years.7:00 p.m. Some day, that thick chain Andre De Grasse always wears around his neck will be swinging a hunka-chunka gold. Just you wait.Perchance Wednesday, after the sprinting ace from Markham, Ont. races the 200 metres that is his stronger distance. For now, he must content himself — and delighted indeed he was Sunday night — with being the third-fastest 100-metre man.The latest from the Star’s Rosie DiManno in Tokyo: Olympic bronze is cool, but Andre De Grasse — Canada’s first male medallist in Tokyo — might be just getting started11:00 a.m.: On Tokyo Daily, host Brendan Dunlop talks with the Toronto Star’s Dave Feschuk in Tokyo after Andre De Grasse’s bronze medal run in the men’s 100-metre dash.Watch the latest Tokyo Daily: Team Canada learning you win some, you lose some at the Olympics10:15 a.m.: US shot putter Raven “Hulk” Saunders raised her arms in an “X” gesture upon mounting the podium to receive her silver medal in women’s shot put.She said the demonstration signified “the intersection of where all oppressed people meet.”The IOC has strict rules against podium protests. No disciplinary actions have yet been announced against Saunders.10:10 a.m.: A Belarus track sprinter alleged her Olympic team tried to remove her from Japan in a dispute that led to a standoff Sunday evening at Tokyo’s main airport.An activist group supporting Krystsina Tsimanouskaya said she believed her life was in danger in Belarus and would seek asylum with the Austrian Embassy in Tokyo.10:00 a.m.: If grasping the many nuances of Olympic-level sailing requires years spent in a boat learning to read the whims o

Tokyo Olympics Day 10: Andre De Grasse is Canada’s first male medallist this summer; U.S. shot-putter delivers first political demonstration on the podium

12:24 p.m.: Toronto sisters Lucia Stafford and Gabriela DeBues-Stafford will both move onto the women’s 1,500-metre semifinals after placing seventh and eighth in the qualifying round, respectively.

Lucia set a personal best with a time of 4:03.52.

11:50 p.m.: Atsushi Muramatsu’s handmade flyers are the size of a business card, written in several languages. “Welcome to Miyagi Stadium,“ one reads. ”The gymnasium next door was the largest morgue for tsunami victims.”

Over a decade after the massive earthquake and tsunami devastated northeastern Japan, the Tokyo Games were supposed to offer a chance to showcase how much has been rebuilt. They were even billed as the “Recovery and Reconstruction Games,“ and the Olympic torch relay started from Fukushima prefecture, the heart of the nuclear disaster area.

But the coronavirus pandemic means few spectators are coming to any of the Olympic events, including soccer and baseball, being held here. That leaves some Olympic volunteers having to find their own ways to recount their experiences to those rare fans who pass through, as well as members of the media.

11:12 p.m. (Updated): In the morning, Raven Saunders of the United States captured the silver medal in the shot put.

At night, Saunders delivered the first political demonstration on the podium at the Tokyo Olympics when she raised her arms and crossed them in the shape of an “X” after receiving her medal, setting the stage for a standoff between the International Olympic Committee and U.S. Olympic leaders.

10:03 p.m.: World champion Sifan Hassan made an incredible recovery from a fall at the final bell to win her 1,500-meter heat at the Olympics on Monday.

Hassan picked herself up after getting in a tangle with Kenyan runner Edinah Jebitok at the start of the last lap. She sped around the outside of the pack on the back straight and ended up crossing the line first in 4 minutes, 5.17 seconds to qualify for the semifinals.

It kept alive the Dutch runner's bid for a rare distance-running treble at the Tokyo Games.

9:47 p.m.: Canada has sent its second team to the quarterfinals of the women's beach volleyball tournament at the Tokyo Olympics.

Toronto's Melissa Humana-Paredes and Sarah Pavan of Kitchener, Ont., downed Spain's Liliana Fernandez Steiner and Elsa Baquerizo McMillan 2-0 in a round of 16 match on Monday.

The Canadians overpowered the duo from Spain 21-13, 21-13.

8:50 p.m.: Sydney Pickrem proved some Olympians are just like us after winning her first medal as part of the women’s 4x100-metre medley relay Sunday.

The 24-year-old Canadian-American doesn’t specialize in the breaststroke — she typically swims the individual medley — but stepped up as Canada’s second swimmer in the pool. Kylie Masse opened with the backstroke and Pickrem’s role was to keep Canada in contention so that Maggie Mac Neil and Penny Oleksiak could close things out in the butterfly and freestyle legs.

Catch up on Olympic notables with Laura Armstrong: Now streaming from Tokyo: Canadian swimmers say the darndest things

8:35 p.m.: Micah Christenson gave coach John Speraw a long, tearful embrace as his U.S. men’s volleyball teammates slumped on the floor and the victorious Argentinians celebrated.

Instead of building on the bronze medal won in Rio de Janeiro five years ago, the Americans are going home early from the Olympics for the first time in more than 20 years.

7:00 p.m. Some day, that thick chain Andre De Grasse always wears around his neck will be swinging a hunka-chunka gold. Just you wait.

Perchance Wednesday, after the sprinting ace from Markham, Ont. races the 200 metres that is his stronger distance. For now, he must content himself — and delighted indeed he was Sunday night — with being the third-fastest 100-metre man.

The latest from the Star’s Rosie DiManno in Tokyo: Olympic bronze is cool, but Andre De Grasse — Canada’s first male medallist in Tokyo — might be just getting started

11:00 a.m.: On Tokyo Daily, host Brendan Dunlop talks with the Toronto Star’s Dave Feschuk in Tokyo after Andre De Grasse’s bronze medal run in the men’s 100-metre dash.

Watch the latest Tokyo Daily: Team Canada learning you win some, you lose some at the Olympics

10:15 a.m.: US shot putter Raven “Hulk” Saunders raised her arms in an “X” gesture upon mounting the podium to receive her silver medal in women’s shot put.

She said the demonstration signified “the intersection of where all oppressed people meet.”

The IOC has strict rules against podium protests. No disciplinary actions have yet been announced against Saunders.

10:10 a.m.: A Belarus track sprinter alleged her Olympic team tried to remove her from Japan in a dispute that led to a standoff Sunday evening at Tokyo’s main airport.

An activist group supporting Krystsina Tsimanouskaya said she believed her life was in danger in Belarus and would seek asylum with the Austrian Embassy in Tokyo.

10:00 a.m.: If grasping the many nuances of Olympic-level sailing requires years spent in a boat learning to read the whims of the wind and the water, Toronto’s Sarah Douglas also trained for her debut at these Tokyo Games in the living room of her apartment in the Canary District.

When she wasn’t travelling the world racing on the World Cup circuit in the laser radial class, Douglas also spent time sweating through workouts on what’s called a hiking bench. “Hiking,” in sailing jargon, is the technique sailors use to balance a boat in full sail, essentially dangling themselves over the edge of the boat, leaning out over the waves.

Dave Feschuk has the story: Sarah Douglas took ‘medal or nothing’ approach, finishes sixth in Tokyo Olympics regatta

Previously: Canadian women’s swim team took bronze in medley relay, springing Penny Oleksiak to become Canada’s most decorated Olympian; Andre de Grasse finishes third in 100 metre sprint, becoming Canada’s first male medallist this summer.

For a full write-up of what you missed on Day 9 of the Tokyo Olympics, click here.

For full coverage of the Tokyo Olympics, click here.

Source : Toronto Star More   

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