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The Biking Lawyer responds to Blue Jays boss Mark Shapiro’s call to cancel #ActiveTO

David Shellnutt cites examples of collisions and calls for Toronto to continue the program

On Friday, Toronto Blue Jay CEO Mark Shapiro Shapiro wrote a letter to Toronto city council leading up to their session on June 15, asking for the ActiveTo road closures to be halted. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, several sections of roadways in Toronto were closed to vehicles in the summer months to allow cyclists, pedestrians and runners a safe place to get fresh air.

One of them, the most popular section, on Lakeshore West, is a concern to the baseball boss as he believes it affects traffic on the way to the Rogers Centre, where the Jays play.

“I understand that my comments and the personal information in this letter will form part of the public record and that my name will be listed as a correspondent on agendas and minutes of City Council or its committees,” he wrote in an open letter. “I am writing to request that you do not vote in favour of extending ActiveTO on Lake Shore Boulevard West. The Toronto Blue Jays are a major sports franchise that draw millions of fans to Rogers Centre every season. Given the unprecedented levels of construction and other diversions in downtown Toronto, removing one of the only ways into and out of the downtown core would be extremely challenging to our fans, who rely on these routes to attend our games.”

Blue Jays President wants road closures for cyclists scrapped

David Shellnut, a.k.a the Biking Lawyer, responded to his letter from a cycling, and safety, perspective.

“At 7:00 a.m. on Saturday May 14, 2022, a woman riding her bicycle on the Martin Goodman Trail was struck by a motorist who jumped the curb, hitting her on the multi-use path. Last week, our office was contacted by a cyclist hit by a right-turning car driver on the MGT who failed to yield the right of way,’ he wrote. “ActiveTO, had it been operating on Lakeshore West on Saturday May 14 could have prevented that tragedy, but that’s perhaps unfair. Though, also unfair is the rate of cyclists injured by motorists on our roads. Rather than being late for a ball game, these people will lose months to rehab and recovery, at best.”

He challenge’s Shapiro’s point that Construction in the City means Lakeshore West is one of the only routes to the Rogers Centre.

“Have you ever ridden the GO Train on game day? Rather than burdening our city with endless gridlock and pollution, the Blue Jays should be promoting GO Transit and TTC use, Shellnutt wrote. “For out of towners, there are stations along the 401 E/W, QEW, and 400 that would allow fans to ditch their car and cruise in by train. With gas prices soaring, your out-of-town fans will be thankful for public transit options. The DVP and Gardiner, not exclusive to bike use, offer motor vehicle only multi-lane highway options for fans. Union Station drops fans arriving by subway or train from every conceivable direction into the heart of the city and the Roger’s Centre’s backyard.”

The Biking Lawyer concluded with suggestions for the city to follow, which included extending the ActiveTO program. He said that the city should take a firm stance, to encourage, promote, and prioritize safe streets through the continued use of public space for modes of transportation and exercise that do not involve motor vehicles. De-prioritize the automobile in our daily lives. Treat driving as a privilege and not a right.

“Set ActiveTO schedules, inform the public and accommodate. Without a set schedule and awareness campaigns around ActiveTO it will be difficult to fully engage the public. Set certain weekends in consultation with community partners to accommodate competing needs,” he added.