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.

The Lowdown

The City’s display boards cited the Kitchener GO Transit corridor has been a barrier for east-west travel in the St. Clair and Old Weston area with significant congestion issues. This study is concurrent with Metrolinx’s plans to electrify the Kitchener GO Transit corridor, add a SmartTrack station in the area, and build the Davenport Diamond bridge. The City is planning to improve the Dundas-Scarlett-St. Clair area, which will include bike lanes. For the St. Clair West TMP, the City is proposing to do the following along with the necessary building tear downs.
  1. Widen St. Clair from Keele Street to Weston Road
  2. Extend Davenport Road from Old Weston Road to meet Union Street (north of St. Clair)
  3. Extend Gunns Road from Weston Road under the Kitchener line to meet Turnberry Avenue
  4. Extend Keele Street to Gunns Road
Recommended alternatives per the City of Toronto's presentation boards
Benefits for Cyclists

From a cyclist’s standpoint, the St. Clair West TMP proposals will provide bi-directional protected bike lanes on the south side of Gunns which will connect with the existing Lavender Creek Trail. The bi-directional bike lanes will then be added to the west side of Union and Davenport. While not in the proposed documents, a city staff member informed me they are considering the possibility of extending the bi-directional bike lanes east from Old Weston to Osler Street; effectively acting as the first step in extending the West Toronto Railpath north.
Davenport and Old Weston - Similar design used for Union and Gunns
Some painted bike lanes are also called for on Keele Street. Unfortunately, I am concerned about having the bike lane placed between the two turning lanes at Gunns. From what I understand, this was done because that intersection will be controlled by a stop sign instead of by traffic signals. 
The design of the Keele and Gunns intersection leaves much to be desired
Overlooked Drawbacks

Given Toronto’s bike plan had called for bike lanes to be built on Dundas from Royal York to Scarlett – as well as on St. Clair from Scarlett to Runnymede – I was disappointed with the lack of consideration for extending the proposed St. Clair bike lanes from Runnymede to Davenport/Union. This would have helped provide a more direct connection to the existing Davenport bike lanes. Not to mention, the City could have considering extending the Dundas bike lanes from Royal York to the Mississauga border with that city seriously considering protected bike lanes as part of their Dundas Connects study.
Red lines on bike plan map show missing Dundas and St. Clair gaps
with the St. Clair West TMP study area circled in yellow
Some other advocates I spoke with also suggested using West Toronto Street to extend the Davenport bike lanes; something which was ruled out due to the lack of ability to address congestion on St. Clair. Even with the recommended plan, there remains a concern on how to fill the small gap from the Lavender Creek Trail to the St. Clair – Runnymede intersection.

Final Thoughts

While not without its faults, there is reason to be cautiously optimistic about the St. Clair West TMP from a cyclist’s perspective. With bi-directional protected bike lanes on Davenport, Union, and Gunns, they will contribute in filling a key gap in Toronto’s cycling network and help boost cycling in York-South Weston. The TMP will also help set the wheels in motion for the northern West Toronto Railpath extension as the southern extension gets under way.

For those who missed the public meeting, I urge you to go to http://toronto.ca/stclairwesttmp and submit your comments in support of this project no later than Sunday, July 8. Every small project can go a long way in helping build the grid that is needed to give cyclists a connected bikeway network both inside and outside of downtown.

Rob Z (e-mail)

1 comment:

  1. Rob,

    The proposed extension of Gunns Road to Union Street would follow the path of the Lavender Creek now confined to a storm sewer. There have been ideas in the community about daylighting the creek, Wouldn't that be nice with an exclusive cycling and pedestrian trail along the bank with no autos. It could connect with the existing trail in the Hydro ROW that follows the path of Lavender Creek west of Weston Road over towards Rockcliffe and then along the Black Creek.