One block of the Danforth will be temporarily transformed this weekend, showcasing a number of street safety measures that are part of the city’s Vision Zero plan.
Two curb lanes, between Woodbine Avenue and Woodmount Avenue, will be replaced with expanded space for pedestrians.
Separated bike lanes are also being installed, along with benches for seating, and even park space, where performers and other festivities are planned.
“Our goal is not to just spark some broader conservation on the role of our streets, but to accelerate actions on creating safer streets in our city,” said Amanda O’Rouke, who’s helping lead the project. She works with 8 80 Cities, a non-profit group that aims to improve public spaces.
Last year, 46 people were killed walking or cycling in Toronto. So far this year, at least 18 pedestrians have died, according to Toronto police.
O’Rouke says this weekend’s effort, along with two other pop-up street makeovers being planned for later dates, is entirely funded by a private donor, who lost a loved one to road violence last year.
While the donor wishes to remain anonymous, O’Rouke says she is a Torontonian with kids growing up in the city.
“[She] understands the way we’ve been designing our streets has left out a huge part of population to move safely around.”
Danforth pop-up a first in Canada
Brad Bradford, councillor for Beaches East York, says this weekend’s street makeover is a first in Canada for a neighbourhood the size of the Danforth.
“Something like this has never been done before,” said Bradford. “We’re excited to bring it to our community.”
And it came together after some major behind the scenes work at city hall.
Bradford says new bylaws were brought in to pull it off.
“When we first sat down with staff and different partners in different divisions, the answer was this can’t be done,” he said.
“We don’t have a bylaw that would allow you to increase sidewalk space, install bike lanes temporarily, and still have traffic in the streets.”
As many as 75 community volunteers and local businesses are also taking part.
“It’s an opportunity for us to stand up and show leadership and give people a chance to experience what safer streets look like,” said Bradford.
A kickoff event will take place Friday at 5 p.m. Live music, kids programming, and other festivities are planned Saturday between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.
Similar events are being planned for the west end and North York but no dates have been set yet.