Today was the first running of Open Streets TO. The area of closure was scaled down from original proposals, so Bloor was only closed from Spadina to Parliament, and Yonge from Bloor to Queen. Heading down Bloor St. early Sunday morning, the road is totally clear.
It’s a shame that when the city laid down this nice new pavement, they didn’t see fit to put in a bike lane.
Upon reaching Spadina, I see the road closure.
The event is start to start at 8 am, when volunteers are still setting up an activity hub at Matt Cohen Park. The group setting up coffee cups were publicizing the fact that 1.2 million such cups are thrown out each day in Toronto. They had 1078 coffee cups for people to draw on; this number is the total number of cups used in a day divided by the number of coffee shops in the city. Any way that you calculate it, a pretty sobering number.
This map shows stickies where people came from to attend.
A small group of us decided to tour the event by bike. We chose to ride on the early side while the streets were relatively empty. Here we are being sent off by Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam who spearheaded the effort to get this event approved by City Council.
Bloor St. is totally empty as we set off around 8:30
This is our group of riders, including Dan, Peter, Laura from Ward 14, and Sam and Doug who were on the last ghost bike ride.
We stop by Holt Renfred to check out a shiny new Shinola bike on display. Very nice.
Right by the bike, a band called the Sidewalk Crusaders started pumping out some ska as we left. Here’s a video from someone else.
Doug leads us down Yonge St.
Lots of people were taking advantage of the clear streetscape, including this very well behaved dog.
Honey made friends whenever we stopped.
Cycle Toronto was doing bike valet just north of Queen.
The street just by the Eaton’s Centre was the most crowded we’d seen, and it was still not that packed.
Yonge Dundas Square was still deserted at 9:30 as we rode back north.
After reaching Bloor and Yonge again, we took the opportunity to do some legal bike parking against a pole that was the subject of a social media firestorm this past week.
Several other cyclists dropped by to chat when they saw us hanging around the pole, talking about the case which was resolved when the property management company in the area said that they would refrain from cutting locks to remove bikes locked to this pole.
One of them had worked on the Bloor streetscaping project, and he pointed out the property line which was marked by a continuous break in the granite paving. Peter is pointing to the line, and it is clear that the TTC pole is on public land.
Lots of families out and about.
Heading out towards Parliament, the streets empty out once again.
At the turnaround point, we meet long time Toronto bike blogger Herb.
Heading back we see that things are getting a little more crowded. By this time, it was almost 10:30.
Politicians in evidence.
By the ROM.
When we rode by here earlier, the streets were eerily quiet, and you could hear the screech of the subway turning the corner below us.
Back at Bloor and Spadina, we meet Albert, who is promoting bikestock.
A few more dots had been added to the map.
I overheard a CityTV reporter saying that many people hadn’t heard about this event.
Although I wasn’t there right at the end, I bet it was a shame to shut things down at noon, just as things got rolling. Other cites that have had open streets events have closed major roads for most of a day, which would seem to be better for turn out.
At any rate, thanks to the organizers and the many friendly volunteers that said “Hi!”. Let’s hope for an even better turnout in two weeks!