Added bike lanes and wide sidewalks could hinder traffic flow
“The Eglinton Connects team did a fantastic job.”
The newly approved Eglinton Connects project has worried some on how changes to the streetscape will affect traffic in the area.
The $5 billion revitalization plan, approved by Toronto City Council in mid-July, reshapes the street with new bike lanes, wider sidewalks and green space, but that means reducing lanes to one for vehicle traffic in each direction on Eglinton Avenue between Mt. Pleasant Road and Avenue Road. The revitalization work would pick up in about 2020 at the conclusion of the Eglinton Crosstown Light Rail Transit (LRT) construction along the stretch.
Dr. Alan Pintaric, chair of the Upper Village business improvement area (BIA), was caught off guard with the quickly approved plan recommendations. He said, “It’s causing confusion,” and he’s concerned the new bike lanes may impede traffic in the area. He added that the crux of the LRT project is to assist with reducing vehicle traffic and congestion, but lane reductions may undermine that goal. Other BIAs along Eglinton have expressed support for the LRT, including the Eglinton Way BIA and Fairbank BIA. Eglinton Way executive director Monique Drepaul said, in an June interview with the Post, she and the membership are excited about the potential changes to the street once construction of the LRT nears its end underground.
“The Eglinton Connects team did a fantastic job dealing with our concerns,” Drepaul said, explaining that she and the membership were fearful of losing customer parking spaces for the sake of expanded bike lanes and sidewalks. “Through the discussions and getting to see the plans laid out, that was all addressed very well.”
A traffic report commissioned by the City of Toronto does project an increase in local traffic but an overall decrease in traffic from commuters. It suggests Eglinton would be less of thoroughfare for motorists from around the city and instead a street dedicated to its residents. Ward 22 councillor Josh Matlow successfully had an amendment moved during the July approval process to introduce right-turn lanes at major intersections between Avenue and Mt. Pleasant to hopefully allow for a smoother flow of vehicle traffic.
Photo (L) The future vision of Eglinton. (R) Upper Village BIA chair Dr. Alan Pintaric.