How the G20 Will Affect Everyone, From Cyclists to Tourists
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Peter Saltsman, J. Smee
The G20 is coming! The G20 is coming!
It’s easy to catch Summit Fever this June, what with every major news outlet in the country covering what might just be the biggest event of the summer (if, you know, you don’t like soccer). Much has been made of the intended discussions, the possible agreements, and the powers of diplomacy. Much, too, has been made of the security, the financial costs, and the interruptions to daily life in Toronto.
But what about you? What does the G20 Summit, coming to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre this June 26 and 27, mean for you? (Other than a lot of time spent reading Torontoist, of course: we'll be providing regular G20 coverage leading up to the summit, and live coverage on the weekend of.) Whether you live in Toronto, work here, walk or drive or cycle or use transit through here, attend school here, are just visiting here, or are just hoping to get out of here, this is Torontoist's comprehensive guide for everyone in the city who'll be affected by the G20. PS
Starting today, getting from point A to point B in the downtown core may seem a bit like travelling the maze in a kid’s colouring book—particularly for cyclists.
Your first obstacle will be the "Traffic Zone." Only some streets will be open, and to get into the zone you’ll be expected to show photo ID—Constable Hugh Smith of Traffic Services suggests you carry at least two pieces with you—and then…wait. There will be line-ups as police check pedestrians' ID and search some cars before allowing them into the zone.
Once inside, you’ll find that some streets will be open as usual, some will be closed completely, and others may only be open to sidewalk traffic, so be prepared to walk your bike. If your trip through the core normally takes an hour, allow for two during the two weeks leading up to the summit, police suggest.
Which streets will and won’t be open is still up in the air, but expect to face a convoluted route to your destination, and don’t be surprised if you find yourself seriously off-course at best, and lost at worst. In that case, Toronto Bike Messenger Association spokesperson Marli Epp points out there’s nothing wrong with asking that courier who’s stopped at a light beside you for help. "That’s a good idea, definitely," says Epp: they know their way around the city better than most, and although some folks find them somewhat intimidating, "there’s a camaraderie between messengers and average cyclists because of what we all go through on the roads."
When you’ve arrived at your destination, there may be other surprises waiting, according to Councillor Adrian Heaps (Ward 35, Scarborough Southwest), who chairs the city’s cycling committee. If you’re used to using one of the city’s bike lockers—at Metro Hall, for instance—you may be out of luck. The City is still undecided, but the transportation committee is pushing to have them removed for the duration. One bright spot: cyclists who’re members of the Union Station bike storage station will not be affected, as those lockers will remain in use. But getting to them could be a bit of a hassle, since the Front Street entrances to Union will all be closed. (Cyclists will only have access through south entrances to Union.)
But suppose you don’t use lockers to park your bike. Heaps says there’s been talk of removing about one thousand of the post-and-ring street bike stands—some have already been taken out near the inner security perimeter—although he’s opposing the idea. How could a simple bike stand be considered a security threat? “I think it’s a concern about what could be locked to it,” says Heaps.
Getting inside the inner "Security Perimeter" will be even tougher for cyclists. Yvonne Bambrick, head of the Toronto Cyclists Union, is warning that you’ll need a special security pass. The Bike Messengers Association’s Epp points out that messengers can get a security pass from Toronto Police Service headquarters on College east of Bay, or you can contact the BMA for more information. JS