October 12, 2018

Completing the East End Grid

Last month, the City of Toronto installed new bike lanes in Thorncliffe Park and Flemingdon Park. When I had a chance to briefly check them out recently, I found them to be a promising start. However, there are several key gaps which need to be filled in order to truly give a boost to cycling in those neighbourhoods and Toronto’s east end as a whole.
Recently installed bike lanes on Thorncliffe Park Drive
The bike lanes ended up being installed on Gateway, Grenoble, and Deauville in Flemingdon Park, as well as on Thorncliffe Park Drive. By looking at these bike lanes on a map, there isn’t any safe on-street connections between the two neighbourhoods. The West Don Trail could be used for those who are more risk averse, but the hills down and up the valley make it impractical. There is also the Leaside Park Trail which connects the western entrance of Thorncliffe Park Drive to Millwood Road, but there isn’t a signalized crossing at Millwood which only has painted bike lanes next to six traffic lanes! The bike plan calls for bike lanes on Overlea Boulevard from the eastern Thorncliffe Park Drive entrance to Gateway, but they should be extended all the way to Millwood with protection added in. After all, there is more than enough space with the medians and all.
Lots of space on Overlea for a bike lane after factoring in the centre islands
Accessing Flemingdon Park from the West Don Trail requires using the Ontario Science Centre entrance, which is longer and less convenient than if a connection along Don Mills Road were to be available. Sadly, the Don Mills trail access uses stairs and trail quality which isn’t that good with only a wheel track left as you approach Overlea. While not yet installed, this connection is called for in the bike plan. However, any multi-use path on Don Mills should be extended north to Eglinton which will have bike lanes as part of the Crosstown LRT. The Ferrand option from the plan would not work due to the lack of a signalized crossing.
Overlea ends at Gateway - another recent bike lane installation
While we are still focused on the east end, let’s take a look south of Millwood to find out how their bike lanes could be better connected. The ongoing campaign for protected bike lanes on Danforth will play a critical role and the planned 8-80 Streets Danforth complete streets demo has been postponed to Spring 2019. Even with bike lanes on the Danny, there isn’t any north-south bike lanes north of Danforth (East York) aside from Woodbine. This is where Donlands comes in. It connects with the existing bike lanes across the Millwood bridge and is called for in the bike plan. Pape is a bus priority route while Greenwood – where bike lanes exist south of Danforth – is too close to Donlands.
Is there really a need for six traffic lanes on the Millwood bridge?
Another north-south connection further west is needed to complete this east end grid. Two options are available here. The first is to transform Logan Avenue into a bicycle boulevard with contraflow lanes; making it the east end’s Shaw Street. However, Logan doesn’t address a gap left by the Pottery Road trail, which ends at Broadview Avenue. Connecting Pottery would require bike lanes on Broadview from Danforth to Cosburn, while extensions further south would be more difficult given the streetcar tracks.
A map of the east end cycling routes with key gaps identified in red
One concern which needs to be highlighted here is the over-reliance on painted bike lanes with the Flemingdon Park and Thorncliffe Park projects, as well as elsewhere in Toronto. As we have seen with last week’s collision at Dundas and Logan where a cyclist was struck by a driver, paint is not enough to keep people safe. The Dundas bike lanes urgently need to be upgraded with protection and extended across the Don River to River Street, while the Millwood bridge could also use an upgrade to their bike lanes. Finally, bike lanes need to be installed as a network as opposed to the current piecemeal approach.

Rob Z (e-mail)

October 01, 2018

Trail Gaps Along the Don

While Toronto’s bikeway network has lots of gaps to fill, east-west connectivity is arguably much better than north-south. Especially north of St. Clair where continuous routes are limited to the Don River and Humber River trails, as well as the bike lanes on Royal York which go to Dixon Road. Back in August, I biked the Don River trail system to Sheppard Avenue to identify trail gaps and better understand how the trail system fits with the Lake to Lake Route.
Wayfinding signage used on the Lower Don Trail

July 26, 2018

Your 2018 Bloor Street Check-up

Bloor bike lanes at St. George where Dalia Chako was killed
Earlier this month, I posted about the Bloor bike lanes from Sherbourne to Church being delayed yet again. With the municipal election only three months away and the need to build support for extending the Bloor bike lanes east and west, I rode along Bloor from Renforth Road (1.7 kilometres east of the Mississauga border) to Parliament Street to document the conditions along the way; similar to what I did on Yonge. Consider this your 2018 Bloor Street check-up.

July 11, 2018

Forwards (and Backwards) on Bloor-Danforth

Last week, the Toronto and East York Community Council approved the recommendations of a planning study done for Danforth Avenue from Coxwell to Victoria Park Avenues, as well as supported expanding the study to cover the section from Broadview to Coxwell Avenues. The Danforth planning study was widely consulted which saw strong support for 7-8 storey mid-rise buildings, heritage conservation, and complete streets including wider sidewalks and protected bike lanes. All four speakers present expressed support for improved cycling facilities and the motion will go to City Council on July 23; the last meeting before October’s election. If approved, we will be one step closer to getting bike lanes on “The Danny”.
2018 Bells on Danforth

July 04, 2018

Cycling Connections at St. Clair and Old Weston

A lot of the Toronto cycling community’s attention on Monday, June 25 was focused on the public meeting debating whether to move the Adelaide protected bike lanes to the left (north) side. However, there was another meeting the same day which has significant potential outside of downtown; that being the St. Clair West Transportation Master Plan (TMP). I had a chance to stop by that meeting on my way home from work to learn more about the transportation issues in that area.

June 11, 2018

Toronto to Brampton (via Eglinton and Etobicoke Creek)

The first time I biked in Brampton was during last year’s “Bike the Creek” event. Since both Mississauga and Brampton have their own trails along Etobicoke Creek, I was curious to find out how cyclists from Toronto could get to Brampton. With Friday being a day off and a need to lose some steam from Thursday’s Fordian slip of an election, I found out by biking the Humber River, Eglinton West, and Etobicoke Creek Trails; a roughly 90-kilometre round trip!

May 15, 2018

Your 2018 Ontario Election Cycling Primer

With the Ontario election 23 days away, transportation has once again become an election issue for many voters. While political party platforms are increasingly featuring cycling and other forms of active transportation, it remains overshadowed by public transit and other issues. Let’s look at what Ontario’s political parties have in store for people who bike.