Saturday, March 24, 2018

Dear Mayor Tory,

Dear Mayor Tory,

I’m writing to you in the hopes that you will support the Transform Yonge recommendation for Yonge Street in North York.

Former New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg famously said in God we trust but everyone else bring data. Except we all know the data. Over 80 pedestrians or cyclists have been struck on this section of Yonge since 2010 with 8 deaths. I suppose one death a year isn’t bad – it’s very bad. North York Centre is a heavily populated urban area with a 6-lane expressway running through it. Almost 80,000 people live in this neighbourhood and they and their councillor want to see Yonge change. We all know the numbers and it’s not about numbers.

You’ve proposed moving the bike lanes to Beecroft, or “just feet from Yonge” but it’s not about bike lanes. Bike lanes are just one tool in the design to make this part of Yonge a safer, more humane street. Reducing the number of lanes and sidewalk improvements will make this a street where people live, work and shop instead of a place other people drive by.

Yet, it's not about cars. Residents of Willowdale aren’t buying more cars. Like other parts of the city, they are buying fewer. They don’t want to spend their lives stuck in traffic. They don’t want to risk their lives crossing a highway to get home. They don’t want their children to die on that street. Your proposed option will cost residents more in construction time thanks to a poorly conceived hybrid solution - unless of course you want to cut that time by allowing overnight construction which will cost residents lost sleep. It will cost all of us more money, but it’s not about money.

What is it about? It’s about commitment. A public commitment you made. You publicly committed to Vision Zero and yet whenever you have the opportunity to prove it, you work against it. Why exactly are people in cars driving somewhere else so much more important than the people who live, work and shop in the very neighbourhood we’re talking about? It’s about who we are and being the kind of city where people can live, work, play and prosper. Can you help do that for us? "Getting Toronto Moving” shouldn’t be about keeping cars moving. Help get people moving by walking, biking and using public transit like the TTC and Go and by making those options faster, accessible and affordable.

This is why I’m asking you to follow the wishes of the residents, their elected representative and the recommendation of City staff to support the Transform Yonge option for Yonge Street North.