Because downtowners shouldn't have all the fun.
For many suburbanites, the commute to downtown Toronto can be hellish, no matter the mode of transportation. But it’s even worse for suburban cyclists, who face plenty of obstacles to get to their city destinations—from a lack of secure bike parking near transit stations to prohibition from having bikes on subways and streetcars during peak hours. But most significantly, suburban bikers lack the infrastructure to get downtown—that is, dedicated bike lanes.
In the upgrades made to Queens Quay and to Richmond and Adelaide that included the installation of cycle tracks, studies have shown bike lanes contribute to the safety of cyclists while reducing traffic congestion and average commute times for both bike riders and motorists. Though there is still much discussion about the installation of a minimum grid of bike lanes downtown, the City should not exclude the other members of the GTA that live or work in Toronto.
Here are six bike lanes the City could build to make the commute for suburban riders less of a struggle.
1 Danforth Avenue
A protected bike lane on the Danforth could give Greektown residents a safer bike ride into the downtown core. With a width of 16.5 metres, the Danforth is wide enough to accommodate a separated bike lane without taking too much space away from vehicle traffic. The addition of a cycle track could also spring new life into the 350 stores and restaurants that are situated along the Danforth; studies have found that bike lanes have increased retail traffic in other parts of Toronto. And because the avenue plays host to several Line 2 subway stations, a bike lane on the Danforth would give commuters the option to ride their bike to their nearest subway stop before taking the TTC the rest of the way to work.
2 Bayview Avenue
Anyone who’s ever tried to bike on Bayview knows that parts of it can be quite terrifying. At some points, the speed limit for vehicles goes up to 70 kilometres per hour and, if you’re heading south, there is very little shoulder to ride on. Although there are some trails that run alongside parts of the road, they are inconsistent and mostly unpaved. A protected bike lane along Bayview could help connect cyclists coming from downtown to the Evergreen Brick Works and to Sunnybrook Hospital. It could also assist residents of the surrounding North York area get to the core without a car.
3 Yonge Street
While organizations like Yonge Love are trying to modernize the downtown portion of Yonge Street and to transform it into a pedestrian corridor, it could also benefit from a separated bike lane that joins the tourist-heavy Yonge and Dundas area to the suburban Richmond Hill. The downtown portion of Yonge alone is populated with 600 retail stores that could benefit from additional pedestrian and cycling traffic. The world’s longest street could be made accessible to more than just motorists by widening sidewalks and creating a path dedicated to cyclists.
4 Dundas Street West
While the Martin Goodman Trail provides a scenic southern route from Etobicoke to Toronto that is mostly separated from vehicular traffic for recreational and functional riders, a route further north, where the population is denser, might better suit the needs of potential commuter cyclists. A separated bike lane on Dundas Street that connects Mississauga through to Etobicoke and lands near the Kipling subway station (or continues toward Toronto) would make for an easier, more active, and sustainable commute.
5 Woodbine Avenue
According to the City’s 2016 implementation plan, new bike lanes are to be installed on Woodbine from O’Connor Drive to Danforth and from Kingston Road down to Queen Street East. The more ideal option, however, would be a lane that ran the length of Woodbine Avenue—not patches of disjointed bike routes. The bikeway could connect commuters to the Martin Goodman Trail that runs the length of the downtown core, and would help residents and tourists alike reach Woodbine Beach on their bikes.
6 Kipling Avenue
Kipling is a major arterial street that a lot west-end drivers use to commute every day. A bike lane on that street might convince some people to commute on two wheels rather than four, which could help ease congestion in that area. A separated cycle track could connect cyclists from residential neighbourhoods to the Bloor-Danforth subway line and to the waterfront paths that lead to the downtown core.
This article was made possible by Urbane Cyclist.