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ActiveTO returns, city prepares to open Lake Shore Boulevard West to pedestrians

Like in 2020, the city of Toronto will open multiple streets to runners, walkers and cyclists throughout the summer

At the start of May, the city of Toronto reintroduced its ActiveTO program. This initiative was launched in 2020, and it is a way for the city to promote outdoor activities while ensuring individuals have enough room to social distance. Starting on Saturday, Lake Shore Boulevard West will be added to the list of streets that are closed to traffic.

ActiveTO was wildly popular last year, and the city reported that, on average, 18,000 cyclists and 4,000 runners and walkers hit Lake Shore Boulevard West alone every day it was open in the summer (excluding days with poor or rainy weather). The road closures are only in effect on weekends, allowing regular traffic to use the streets throughout the work week.

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Ontario has been under a stay-at-home order since early April, and although it is scheduled to expire on May 20, recent reports have hinted that it might be extended into June. As Toronto mayor John Tory pointed out last year when ActiveTO was first introduced, vehicle use in the city and pedestrian traffic should be low during a lockdown of this nature, which is why closing down certain streets is a viable option for the local government.

As the pandemic has carried on and gyms and athletic facilities have remained closed, Toronto residents have continued to ask for more spaces around the city where they can exercise, according to Barbara Gray, who works as the general manager of transportation services in Toronto.

“ActiveTO supports active transportation and overall mobility in Toronto,” Gray said in a video promoting the initiative. “We know that people are really interested in making sure they’re physically distancing and paying attention to all the rules these days, and we want to make sure they have enough space to do that.” This is great for Toronto runners, as it opens up a wide variety of routes, many of which aren’t accessible for foot traffic other than during races.

In addition to sections of Lake Shore West being closed to traffic (westbound lanes will remain open), sections of Lake Shore East, Bayview Avenue and River Street will also be shut down and reserved for cyclists and pedestrians. To keep up to date with the weekly closures so you know exactly where to plan your Saturday or Sunday long run, check out the city’s website.

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