November 13, 2017

Not Just Bloor in November

Last week saw Toronto city council vote in favour of making the Bloor bike lanes permanent. While that decision grabbed the bulk of the cycling headlines, several other good developments have happened for Toronto’s cycling community. Let’s find out what they are.

1 – Bathurst and Adelaide Intersection Improvements
With several North American cities already adopting protected intersections, Toronto has finally taken the first step towards that direction. Bicycle specific improvements at Bathurst and Adelaide Streets were approved by Toronto city council last October and construction started in late August. When I biked by there on Saturday, I noticed the work is almost done except for some finishing touches. (e.g. paint, signal activation)
Diagram of intersection improvements (via City of Toronto)
The improvements consist of a cycle track and waiting area for cyclists crossing Bathurst Street to access the Adelaide Street protected bike lanes, which will help reduce pedestrian conflicts. While a report on whether to keep the Richmond and Adelaide bike lanes will not arrive at the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee until early 2018, it is widely expected they will stay given they represent the city’s busiest cycling corridor with over 6500 cyclists per day. After all, it would be silly to do these improvements without this expectation.

Bicycle specific improvements are also expected at the Woodbine-O’Connor and Peter-Queen-Soho intersections sometime next year, though true protected intersections remain hidden from Toronto’s political discourse for now.

2 – Denison-Bellevue Contraflow
While a contraflow bike lane is not necessarily something to celebrate, the ones recently installed on Denison and Bellevue Avenues provide a helpful link between College Street and the Richmond and Adelaide cycle tracks. It also marks the City finally completing their list of cycling projects for a given year, though the listing itself is limited to Denison-Bellevue, Waterloo, Renforth, and a small gap on Davenport. The City will need a more aggressive plan for 2018 if they are to deliver on their Cycling Network Plan.

3 – King Street Pilot
The King Street Pilot is aimed to improve streetcar flow on Toronto’s busiest surface transit route; that being the 504 King streetcar and the 514 Cherry off-shoot from Bathurst to Jarvis Streets. Through motor vehicle traffic is illegal on King Street as of yesterday – they are forced to turn right at selected intersections – while taxis are exempt from 10:00 PM to 5:00 AM.
Cyclists get two benefits from this project. The first is they can ride straight through on King Street, though many cyclists will prefer to use Richmond and Adelaide. The second is they have left turn boxes at Peter and Simcoe Streets to access the corresponding bike lanes. Can we have more of these across Toronto?
Other things to note include the streetcar stops being placed on the far side of the intersection to stop motor vehicles from going through, the banning of left turns, and the provision of taxi, delivery, and accessible loading zones. Streetcar stops have yellow ramps to ensure full accessibility, while public spaces will be available for things like sidewalk cafés and bicycle parking. A report on the King Street Pilot will come out after next year’s election.

4 – Martin Goodman Trail Gap
The Martin Goodman Trail at Queen’s Quay and Dan Leckie Way had an annoying 60 metre gap which prompted cyclists to dismount; a rule which always got ignored and created a safety hazard for children and parents getting to the nearby school. As with the Bathurst and Adelaide intersection, construction of the expanded deck started in late August and the trail gap was filled in as of Saturday. Only some paint and the removal of the “cyclists dismount” signs remain to be done.

5 – Continued Humber Bay Delays
Two sections of the Martin Goodman Trail at Humber Bay Shores Park were closed off for construction which were supposed to have been done in July. The construction fences and cyclist detours remain four months later, though one of the fences was knocked down at the eastern plaza. After taking a closer look, only two small asphalt sections and some minor landscaping remain before the eastern plaza can be considered done. The same cannot be said for the western plaza; meaning that gap is likely to remain closed off until spring 2018.

6 – Lake Shore Cycle Track
The streetcar track reconstruction on Lake Shore Boulevard in Etobicoke has been completed, which allowed for work on the bi-directional cycle track from Norris Crescent to First Street to begin. At this time, the only signs of paint were found near First Street, though construction started on October 30. The work is expected to take four to six weeks; meaning the gap ought to be filled in just in time for the Holidays. Not the best time to finish a cycling project with lower winter cycling volumes.

Final Thoughts
While this year may not have seen as much installed as we would like, keeping the Bloor bike lanes will help build momentum for protected bike lanes on Yonge north of Highway 401 and encourage city council to reinstate the other major corridor studies after next year’s election. Filling in trail gaps and improving intersections will also play a role in improving cycling in Toronto. However, the focus must now shift to keeping Doug Ford out of the Mayor’s office and getting rid of certain anti-cycling councillors.

Go forward!
Rob Z (e-mail)

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