Thorncliffe Park dad and mom are asking the town to have the Overlea Bridge “reimagined” in the course of the pandemic to make sure their kids can bodily distance when utilizing its slim sidewalks on their method to and from college.
Huda Alyacoubi Jazairli, a Syrian mom of 5 kids who got here to Canada about three and a half years in the past, mentioned she worries about 4 of her children after they cross the bridge to go to Valley Park Center College and Marc Garneau Collegiate Institute. Her two eldest are in Grades 12 and 10, whereas her two center kids are in Grades 8 and seven.
“The bridge will get overcrowded within the morning and afternoon when children go to highschool within the morning and are available again dwelling. They stroll shoulder-to-shoulder. There is no means for them to practise social distancing,” Alyacoubi Jazairli instructed CBC Toronto.
“I’m involved not solely about my kids. I fear about all the kids. I really feel it’s my duty towards my group, my neighbourhood, to say this.”
She has signed a petition circulated by dad and mom that asks the metropolis to provide kids more room on the bridge to stroll and bike to highschool safely. A neighbourhood flyer suggests if the town “reimagined” the bridge it may shut down a lane of visitors. The demand comes at a time when COVID-19 circumstances are surging in Toronto and Thorncliffe Park is seen a very hard-hit neighbourhood.
Charles H. Hiscott Bridge is the one connection between Thorncliffe Park and Flemingdon Park. Lots of of kids use its sidewalks as heavy visitors rolls by in the course of the week. In line with Alyacoubi Jazairli’s kids, peak journey instances are between 8:40 a.m. and 9 a.m. and between 2:55 p.m. and three:20 p.m. The crowding is claimed to worsen within the afternoon.
On Thursday afternoon, kids had been seen working throughout a part of the bridge, some roughhousing with one another. Most took their time and walked, and nonetheless others walked with adults. The bulk, nonetheless, had been grouped shut collectively.
On Thursday afternoon, some kids ran throughout a part of the bridge, with just a few roughhousing with one another. Most took their time and walked, and nonetheless others walked with adults. The bulk, nonetheless, had been grouped shut collectively. (Muriel Draaisma/CBC)
A short lived resolution may contain crossing guards or college workers members encouraging the kids to stroll two metres aside. A lane of visitors, blocked by the town for a brief interval within the morning and within the afternoon throughout peak scholar journey instances, could be a long term resolution, Alyacoubi Jazairli mentioned.
“I am not an skilled. However that might assist.”
Metropolis to place up indicators encouraging bodily distancing
One councillor says “there are numerous transferring elements” and shutting a lane would constrict visitors and trigger delays. Workers on the metropolis’s transportation companies division, nonetheless, say they’re monitoring visitors patterns and can put up indicators close to the bridge to encourage bodily distancing.
Alyacoubi Jazairli mentioned if considered one of her kids bought COVID-19, it might be tough for that member of the family to go into isolation as a result of the household lives in an condo.
She mentioned she believes the town ought to take motion as a result of Thorncliffe Park could be thought of a COVID-19 scorching spot, with 493 circumstances per 100,000 individuals as of Nov. 12, in accordance with Toronto Public Well being.
College students from Thorncliffe Park attend colleges with the Toronto District College Board in Flemingdon Park, which has a highschool and center college.
The board has not but responded to a request for remark.
Coun. Jaye Robinson, who represents Ward 15, Don Valley West, mentioned in a press release that she is conscious of the issue.
“The Metropolis’s Transportation Providers division is at the moment gathering information on native journey patterns to tell potential choices,” Robinson mentioned.
“The Overlea Bridge is scheduled for main infrastructure enhancements within the subsequent 5 years, and the Overlea Boulevard and Don Mills Highway intersection shall be redesigned in 2021/2022.”
Closing lane would have an effect on visitors, councillor says
Coun. Denzil Minnan-Wong, who represents Ward 16, Don Valley East, mentioned colleges ought to be instructing college students concerning the significance of retaining two metres aside.
“They need to be separating themselves when they’re crossing the bridge. I feel that ought to be a message instructed to the scholars on the colleges close by,” he mentioned.
Minnan-Wong mentioned closing a lane on the bridge could be problematic.
“Closing off that bridge to 1 lane of visitors going every means would considerably constrict visitors and trigger substantial delays. Closing a lane would require in depth consultations and I do not imagine it might be acquired positively by the group,” he added.
Metropolis workers engaged on longer-term plans
Becky Katz, supervisor of biking and pedestrian initiatives within the metropolis’s transportation companies, mentioned metropolis workers have been finding out the hall, together with the Don Mills and Overlea Boulevard intersection, and are reviewing a number of choices.
“Metropolis workers in Transportation Providers are engaged on longer-term plans (which can embrace future bridge widening) in addition to extra interim enhancements alongside the hall to assist help mobility and security,” Katz mentioned in an e-mail to CBC Toronto.
“It ought to be famous that public well being officers have pressured that passing somebody on the sidewalk will not be a high-risk exercise and doesn’t typically help virus unfold.”
Sidewalks ‘barrier’ to distancing: metropolis report
In a report on ActiveTO accepted metropolis council in Might, Barbara Grey, common supervisor of transportation companies, famous: “Overlea Boulevard has excessive bus ridership and 4 lanes of journey. The slim sidewalks alongside the hall, particularly on the bridge, create a barrier for bodily distancing.”
Katz mentioned the town must have a look at how closing a lane of visitors would have an effect on transit, the security of intersections and different modes of transportation.
“Metropolis workers have noticed that this part of roadway on Overlea Boulevard has various competing calls for and concerns that make it complicated (together with transit routes, entry to native colleges and a bustling area people),” she mentioned.
“Workers intention to proceed their work with the Councillor’s workplace on any proposed future plan of action.”