Toronto could see a much-needed boost in cycling infrastructure if council approves a new staff proposal.
At this time next year, Torontonians could be cycling down over 40 kilometres of new bike lanes, including a proposed pilot project that could see bike lanes along Bloor through the Annex.
On Tuesday, the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee will receive a report from the manager of Transportation Services on the 2016 implementation program for the City of Toronto’s Ten Year Cycling Network Plan. The report includes a list of 17 streets scheduled to get new cycling infrastructure, as well as four downtown streets targeted for upgrades to their existing bike lanes.
There are also several off-road trail connections planned to start construction in 2016; they include a new off-road trail beside Bayview Avenue to connect to the Evergreen Brickworks, as well as new trail connections along the East Don River, Mimico and Etobicoke Creeks, and plans to fill the gap in the Humber River trail in Weston. Various wayfinding and intersection improvements are also planned for next year.
Most bikeway additions are planned in the old City of Toronto and along the Etobicoke waterfront. But the plan acknowledges the long-running campaign for bike lanes on Bloor Street—a pilot project will see bike lanes added to Bloor between Shaw Street and Avenue Road. But in the suburbs, Toronto is still a long way off from establishing a minimum grid of safe bike routes that cross the entire city.
In the last 18 months, pilot project bike lanes (separated by bollards) were added to Adelaide, Richmond and Simcoe Streets; lanes on Adelaide and Richmond are currently being extended east from University Avenue to Parliament Street. Contraflow lanes were added on several inner city streets to provide safe and logical on-street connections; and of course, the Martin Goodman Trail opened along Queen’s Quay earlier this summer.
The map below shows the existing bike network, recent additions made in 2014-2015, and additions and improvements planned for 2016.
A full list of the 2016 projects appears below.
Pottery Road to Moore Avenue (1.3 km)
These new on-street lanes would connect to the Lower Don Trail at Pottery Road as well as the planned Bayview Trail between Pottery Road and Rosedale Valley Road, serving the Evergreen Brickworks.
Bloor Street West
Shaw Street to Avenue Road (2.5 km)
Bike lanes on Bloor Street have long been one of the most demanded pieces of infrastructure by cycling advocates. However, this relatively short section is only being tested as a pilot project as part of a larger study of east-west bike routes in the area. But if this pilot proves successful, these bike lanes could be permanent, and—we can hope—extended in both directions.
Riverdale Avenue to Gerrard Street East (0.2 km)
This new on-street bike facility is only two blocks long, but would improve safety for cyclists headed southbound on Carlaw along the signed bike route. Unfortunately, at Riverdale and Carlaw, northbound traffic—cyclists included—may only proceed east on Riverdale and north on Pape. A contraflow lane between Carlaw and Logan would benefit northbound cyclists and make this short bike lane much more useful.
Jones Avenue to Greenwood Avenue (0.6 km)
Chatham Avenue is a one-way street south of, and parallel to, Danforth Avenue. A contraflow lane would be required to make this a useful two-way bike route, which would connect existing bike routes on Jones and Greenwood. However, it avoids Danforth Avenue, another cycling route sought by Cycle Toronto and other advocates.
Corley Avenue and Norway Avenue
Both of these east-end side streets are currently one-way; contraflow lanes would have to be installed to make them safe and effective connecting routes. Corley Avenue (0.3 km) is the extension of Eastwood Avenue east of Woodbine Avenue, while Norway Avenue (0.8 km) connects with Dundas/Dixon Road at Woodbine Avenue. Both would allow bicycles to navigate the east end legally and safely.
Denison Avenue and Bellevue Avenue
This street pair, a 1.1 kilometre stretch between Queen Street West and College Street, would provide a safe two-way bike route through Kensington Market while avoiding both Spadina Avenue and Bathurst Street. However, the City would be wise to extend this route north to Bloor Street and even Dupont via Brunswick Avenue, which would allow cyclists to legally cut through the maze of one-way roads in Harbord Village and the Annex.
Queen Street West to the Gardiner Expressway (0.6 km)
This short bike route would connect South Parkdale with the Martin Goodman Trail, though it could be improved with a direct pedestrian/cyclist crossing at Lake Shore Boulevard.
The Queensway to the Waterfront Trail (0.2 km)
A short bike lane that would connect Swansea and bike lanes on The Queensway to the Waterfront Trail; currently there is no trail connection at the intersection of Ellis Avenue and Lake Shore Boulevard.
Lake Shore Boulevard West
Norris Crescent to First Street (1.3km)
This section in Etobicoke connects a gap in the Waterfront Trail between the new section of trail in Mimico and side streets that make up the “trail” west of Royal York Road. Ideally, bike lanes would continue westward to beyond Kipling Avenue, where a separate section of bike lanes currently exists.
Woodbine Avenue to St. Clair Avenue East (0.8 km)
O’ Connor Drive to Danforth Avenue (1.7 km)
Kingston Road to Queen Street East (0.7 km)
Collectively—minus an obvious gap between Danforth and Kingston Road—these three road segments create a new north-south route through east end Toronto and East York, over the high-level O’Connor Drive Bridge.
The East Mall to Centennial Park Boulevard (1.3 km)
This completes the bike lanes on Rathburn Road between the East Mall and Islington Avenue; it will cross Highway 427 and serve Etobicoke’s Centennial Park.
Palace Pier Court to Marine Parade Drive (0.2 km)
This is a very short one-way road next to the Waterfront Trail near the Humber Bay Bridge. But with safety concerns about speeding cyclists on the adjacent trail, it might prove to be part of a long-term solution to separate trail users based on their speed and comfort level.
Waterloo Avenue/Gladstone Avenue
These 300 metres of contraflow lanes are part of an incomplete two-way on-street bikeway between Brock Street and Shaw Street via Florence and Argyle Avenues, providing a quiet alternative to Queen or Dundas Streets in Toronto’s west end.
Steeles Avenue to Sheppard Avenue East (4.2 km)
The longest single road segment in the list of 2016 bikeway implementations; it runs north-south parallel to Yonge Street in North York, though it illustrates one of the shortcomings of Toronto’s cycling network: a lack of safe crossings at railways and highways. The limited cycling network in North York remains disconnected because of Highway 401; more safe connections are needed if Toronto is serious about creating a minimum grid.
In addition, upgrades and repairs to four existing bike routes, all downtown, are planned. Some, like Gerrard Street, are in terrible condition; all are prone to being blocked by illegally stopped cars:
- Gerrard Street East: Yonge Street to Parliament Street (1.3 km)
- River Street: Gerrard Street East to King Street East (0.8 km)
- Shuter Street: Yonge Street to River Street (1.9 km)
- Simcoe Street: Front Street to Queen’s Quay (0.8 km)
These routes may enjoy increased separation from general traffic lanes as well as re-surfacing and re-painting (sorely needed on both Gerrard and Shuter), such as work done in 2014-2015 on Wellesley and Harbord Streets.
The agenda for the September 22, 2015 Public Works Committee meeting is available on the City’s website. You can also follow the meeting on YouTube.