August 28, 2017

A New East End Connection

Bike lanes on Woodbine Avenue
Normally, my bike commute takes me along Richmond-Adelaide and Sherbourne Streets, as well as Danforth Avenue to get to Danforth GO station. Sometimes, I will go home via Bloor and Shaw Streets thanks to the Bloor bike lanes installed last year. Given bike lanes were installed on Woodbine Avenue south of Danforth Avenue during the weekend, I decided to give Woodbine a try and check out other bike lanes which connect the east end to downtown. This new routing also allows most of my commute to take place on dedicated cycling facilities.

Not much remains of the Shuter Street bike lanes
Instead of continuing north on Sherbourne Street, I turned right onto Shuter Street. While Shuter west of Sherbourne was subject to watermain replacement and partial road resurfacing last year, east of Sherbourne remains neglected. The bike lanes are now almost faded, while the road surface is filled with cracks and potholes.
River Street is missing bollards to prevent bike lane blockages
Where Shuter ends at River Street, a left turn leads to a recently resurfaced street. River uses a similar treatment done on Gerrard Street, but with full concrete bumpouts instead of planters. Having the bike lanes placed curbside is a much needed improvement to prevent motor vehicles from blocking bike lanes. However, Transportation Services still has not put up bollards to complete the separation; something Cycle Toronto’s Ward 28 and Ward 30 groups expressed concern about since June.
The Gerrard Street bridge doesn't connect east of the Don River
The Gerrard Street bridge - which allows for safe cycling crossing of the Don River – is not practical for two reasons. The first is the lack of bike lanes on Gerrard between River and Parliament Streets, while the second is the lack of connections across the bridge to connect with the Dundas Street bike lanes which start at Broadview Avenue. The City needs to install protected bike lanes on Dundas from River to Broadview to ensure safe access to downtown for east end residents.
Dundas Street East - one side of parking could easily be removed
Continuing along Dundas reveals recent bike lane repainting; something urgently needed on Shuter. With Dundas being one of the older bike lanes, they are placed in the door zone with parking on both sides in some parts. Instead, parking should be removed on one side to allow for protected bike lanes.
Dixon Avenue contraflow bike lane
East of Kingston Road, cyclists are provided with a contraflow bike lane on Dixon Avenue which continues to Woodbine. Personally, I am not fond of having the contraflow bike lane next to parked cars for one block. An even bigger challenge is the lack of a signalized crossing at Woodbine to access the new bike lanes, which may prompt some cyclists to use Kingston instead.
Woodbine bike lanes at Norway Avenue
At last, I arrived on Woodbine Avenue; now the easternmost north-south cycling route before Scarborough. Not all the paint is in place south of Kingston Road, but I am concerned about the bike lane being placed in the door zone between Dixon and Kingston. If only they could redirect through vehicle traffic from Lake Shore Boulevard away from Woodbine
Bollards are expected on Woodbine between the bike lane and parked cars
Once north of Kingston, the bike lanes are placed curbside with buffers between parked cars. North of Gerrard has the buffers on both sides. There are no signs of bollards yet – including north of Danforth which was installed the prior weekend – though it should be noted installation is ongoing. Let’s hope the City of Toronto puts the bollards in before causing a media firestorm as what happened with the Richmond and Adelaide cycle tracks in 2014.
The width of Danforth Avenue can easily accommodate bike lanes!
Back on Danforth, I am reminded of the street’s width and why bike lanes are needed as soon as possible. Before they can become a reality, the Bloor bike lanes need to be made permanent, which I encourage you to show your support by signing and sharing the latest Bloor Loves Bikes pledge. Aside from a few setbacks and the lack of bike share stations, the east end is well on its way to securing a complete cycling network.

Journey east!
Rob Z (e-mail)

1 comment:

  1. A few thoughts.

    1) Woodbine south-of-Kingston, and traffic diversion. I remember before Woodbine Park was developed much discussion involving the then councillor over just such a scheme.

    He wanted to cut Lakeshore to one-lane each way, east of Coxwell, and divert traffic from Lakeshore to Kingston Rd. Via Eastern.

    I can't recall, but I believe thought was given to running an angled-connection through one of the parks.

    Regardless, the idea went nowhere.

    While I think its a laudable idea in the longer term, I think the more immediate move would be to remove parking on Woodbine from Queen to Kingston. (apologies to homeowners w/permits) but this would provide room for full bikelanes and maybe even some streetscape.

    The only challenge is the approach to Kingston Rd. from the south, where a right hand turn lane is needed; however, one entire lane, NB from Queen could become must-exit-right at Kingston.

    That might actually allow for better traffic flow than today, while better accommodating bikes and walkers.


    2) East-end cycling priorities. I continue to favour Donlands before Danforth.

    I think its critically important to induce greater demand as under-used bike lanes can set back the entire project.

    I also like it because it helps the network (northern continuation of Jones lanes), and because its low-hanging fruit, no car lanes needs to be removed south of O'Connor


    3) Subject to the Bloor bike lanes being made permanent, I think extending those through downtown (Yorkville) is a top priority.

    So is continued work to make biking across the viaduct feel safer.

    The DVP ramp (east to north) is the most troublesome to me.


    4) Finally, I think we all really need to champion removing channelized right-hand-turns. This is something that benefits pedestrians a bit more than bikes, typically. But it does reduce accident potential, it does slow speeds for cars, and it encourages more folks to get out and walk. All of which sets up a culture and road system more friendly to cyclists.

    Its also something less likely to arouse widespread opposition, and its relatively cheap to implement.