Immediate action should be taken in High Park to ensure pedestrian and cyclist safety and introduce real long-term solutions for the vital public space and its surrounding neighbourhoods.
There has been an increased police presence in High Park over the last week ticketing cyclists for speed and stop sign infractions and one cyclist was hit by a police cruiser.
Siri Agrell, candidate for City Council in Parkdale-High Park, said that the speed of cyclists in High Park is a concern for many, but that a police response would not have occurred if the local councillor had responded to residents, park users and cyclists and better managed issues in and around the area.
“Just as we saw when High Park was closed during cherry blossom season during the pandemic, the current tension over cycling in High Park is the result of failed local leadership,” said Siri Agrell. “We do not need people pitted against each other. We need real, urgent solutions to the overlapping issues in and around High Park.”
As Councillor Siri Agrell would:
- Immediately pilot designated cycle track times in the park between 6am and 8am, with corresponding signage and a public education campaign to ensure cyclist compliance and pedestrian awareness.
- Partner with CycleTO to ensure that cyclists in High Park ride safely and respect pedestrian crossings.
- Improve wayfinding and signage throughout the park to ensure that pedestrians, drivers and cyclists understand the shared space.
- Address the lack of cycle track infrastructure in the west end by exploring options for permanent routes or programs in Exhibition Grounds, within the planned High Park redesign and Movement Strategy or elsewhere.
- Advocate for the expansion of Martin Goodman Trail so cyclists have a safe and separated lakeshore route.
- Introduce immediate changes to Parkside Drive to further reduce car speeds on the important north-south thoroughfare and ensure that the planned street redesign keeps people safe without pushing increased traffic into local residential neighbourhoods.
Agrell said the current situation in High Park is the result of many related failures in the Parkdale-High Park ward. Increased demand for active transportation has put pressure on the park as well as local waterfront trails. The local councilor failed to protect ActiveTO on Lakeshore due to mismanaged construction projects on the Queensway that fueled driver frustration and increased car travel times during the weekend closures. No efforts to adapt the ActiveTO program were introduced locally so that it could continue even as car traffic returned to pre-pandemic levels.
Agrell said many residents are also justifiably frustrated that drivers continue to speed on Parkside Drive – where a couple died in a horrific collision in October 2021 and where the introduction of photo radar has not yet been supplemented by any safety improvements to the street design – and after years of high speed racing on the Gardiner Expressway.
“I’m tired of seeing neighbours turn on each other because our local leadership has failed to get out ahead of a problem,” said Agrell. “High Park is an incredible part of the city and this ward, and I will make sure it works better for everyone.”