A curb-lane patio on Yonge Street. Photo: Sue-Ann Levy
Professional drivers question the idea of tables near traffic
The City of Toronto has proposed that the CaféTO program allowing restaurant patios to extend into the curb lane be made permanent.
CaféTO was promoted to help restaurants recover from revenue losses during COVID. It includes curb lane cafés, which provide expanded temporary outdoor dining space by reallocating the public right-of-way on curb lanes for use by restaurants.The report going to Executive Committee January 31st proposes making seasonal patio extensions into the curb lane of traffic a permanent feature.
Taxi News could not find any driving professionals who support the curb-lane patios, temporary or permanent.
“I’ve never liked the idea!” says Taxi driver Jafar Mirsalari. “It’s horrible, unsafe, unhealthy and causes traffic jams big time, specifically wherever the streetcars are running.”
Rideshare driver Earla Phillips told Taxi News, “I don’t understand why they are doing the expansion at all. These were originally brought in as a COVID measure. I personally find them scary, as a potential customer; drivers are nuts on the road.”
Phillips also notes the fact that where patios extend into curb lanes, bicycle lanes must merge into the more limited traffic lanes. “Cyclists hate them; and now there will be more of them, and permanent?”
Co-op Cabs CEO Abdul Abdul Mohamoud says “I just have to wonder how healthy is it for people to sit there inhaling traffic fumes.”
Proposed changes would “advance the transition of CaféTO from a temporary emergency response initiative into a sustainable program that makes Toronto’s streets more attractive, safe and accessible while continuing to allow restaurants and bars to operate with expanded space outdoors,” according to a press release distributed by the City.
At its meeting on Tuesday, January 31, Executive Committee will discuss the staff report that recommends returning to standard permit processes for all right-of-way café types that were in place before the COVID-19 pandemic. The report includes recommended updates to the outdoor dining bylaw.
The report recommends returning to the existing requirement of constructing temporary platforms in curb lane café permit areas to ensure curb lane cafés are fully accessible, and to increase safety near on-street patios and address concerns about equitable program access. The report also contains a recommended grant program to assist businesses in meeting these requirements.