Letters to the Editor: Open up Toronto’s streets for people during COVID-19 crisis

Queen Street East at Wineva Avenue looking west is shown in this Beach Metro New file photo.

Members of 32 Spokes encourage the City of Toronto to follow the lead of other cities, such as Calgary, Winnipeg, Bogota, and New York City, that are opening up streets to people during the COVID-19 crisis.

We believe this action will greatly benefit us during this crisis while making our streets safer.

Our sidewalks are narrow and full of obstacles. It is frustrating to share these tight spaces with one another while a huge amount of unused space sits beside us on the street.

Streets are public spaces and now is the time, as vehicle volumes decrease, to open them up to people, not solely vehicles, so we may serve the greater needs of our communities during this crisis.

We need open streets so we can maintain our distance while being active. This is a stressful time so physical health is important not just for our bodies but also our minds.

Many of us are volunteering through groups such as the Toronto Bike Brigade to deliver groceries or pick-up prescriptions for those who cannot travel outside their home. Open streets will allow us to continue to do so in a safe way. In this same vein, it will allow us to continue to support local businesses in this trying time, as we can safely travel to and from them.

Narrowing roads can also discourage speeding, something we are seeing more of in our community as traffic volumes decrease.

We desperately need our public spaces marked and made safe for people. Let your local councillor and Mayor John Tory know if you feel the same way.

In the meantime, if you have a street safety concern or idea, or if you’re getting back on your bike and have questions, please get in touch with us at https://32spokes.org/

We’re all in this together.

Kathleen Mackey

Kathleen Mackey lives in the east end and is a member of 32 Spokes – a bike advocacy group in the east end, formed by residents of Ward 19, who want to see safe streets for everyone.


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