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.

Etobicoke’s “Arrogance of Space”
Bloor in Etobicoke is over 20 metres wide including grass medians
One thing that caught my attention in Etobicoke was what Mikael Colville-Andersen would call the “arrogance of space” with motor vehicles. While Bloor Street is between 14 and 15 metres wide from the Mississauga border to the Six Points intersection at Kipling Avenue and Dundas Street West, that space increases to 20 to 21 metres once you include the grass medians. Add in centre turning lanes and bus loading zones and it becomes possible to add bike lanes with minimal road widenings; whether there are four traffic lanes (or two traffic and two parking lanes). However, care will be needed on certain medians to avoid any backlash from removing trees.
Arrogance of space with six lanes crossing Highway 427
The Highway 427 crossing has six traffic lanes between The West Mall and The East Mall, which is completely unnecessary given the rest of Bloor in Etobicoke has only four! Aside from stubborn resistance from MTO – responsible for 400-series highway crossings – there is no excuse not to replace two traffic lanes with protected bike lanes! Not to mention, the lack of an interchange makes Bloor a more suitable cycling connection with Mississauga than Dundas despite Mississauga’s Dundas Connects study.

Six Points to the Humber River
Construction at Six Points (Bloor-Dundas-Kipling)
The Six Points intersection at Bloor, Dundas, and Kipling was built in 1961 which more resembles a highway interchange and has been dubbed the “spaghetti junction”. A terrifying experience for people riding bikes in its current state, but the good news is construction at the intersection will see the bridges taken down and protected bike lanes built along Bloor and Dundas. Construction is expected to be completed in 2020 and lead to further development as a mobility hub with nearby TTC and GO stations.
These edge lines at Mimico Creek should be upgraded to protected bike lanes
The arrogance of space continues east of Six Points with left and right turn lanes at Islington Avenue and the use of tree lined centre islands at Royal York Road. The TTC underpass between Islington and Kipling can accommodate protected bike lanes with widths exceeding 8 metres per direction, while existing edge lines on the Mimico Creek bridge at Tom Riley Park can easily be upgraded to protected bike lanes. Add in centre left turn lanes and parking bays and there are no excuses left for not extending the Bloor bike lanes across Etobicoke.

Narrowing at the Humber
Bloor getting narrower at the Humber River bridge
The Humber River bridge felt narrow and at 15 metres wide, is not wide enough to accommodate bike lanes and four traffic lanes. To ensure sufficient protection, two traffic lanes would need to be removed from the Humber all the way to Shaw. While people who drive may feel inconvenienced, they should note Bloor east of the Humber is reduced to two lanes anyway once cars park there outside of rush hour. Speaking of parking, the wide nature of the Humber River to Dundas (Roncesvalles) part of Bloor at over 16 metres makes it possible to install protected bike lanes while keeping almost all parking spaces.
Poor road quality going under the West Toronto Railpath
This narrowing continues from Dundas to Lansdowne, which is littered with potholes and should have been resurfaced with bike lanes last year. Unfortunately, it is unknown when this resurfacing is expected to happen. Upon arriving at Lansdowne, Bloor is very narrow at 12.2 metres and was an uncomfortable ride which required me to take the lane to avoid getting doored.
Better take the lane on Bloor between Lansdowne and Shaw!
Despite this narrow width, Shaw to Spadina is similarly narrow and still had bike lanes built – including to Avenue Road – so it is certainly possible to extend the bike lanes west. Some people riding bikes have complained about the narrow width and inability to pass slower riders, though the City is currently studying improvements now that the Bloor bike lanes are permanent. Two improvements I recommend include improving separation with barrier curbs or raised cycle tracks and adding a protected intersection at Bloor and St. George to prevent future tragedies such as what happened to Dalia Chako.
Narrow street widths didn't stop these bike lanes from getting built (at Christie Pits)
To promote the need for properly protected bike lanes, Bells on Bloor recently did a safety demonstration of placing pylons around cars parked in the Bloor bike lanes which was widely shared.
Completing the Gap
Bloor in Yorkville where Darcy Allan Sheppard was killed in 2009
The Yorkville section from Avenue to Church was designed without any consideration for cyclist safety; instead featuring useless sharrows and not-so-friendly bike parking. This area was where Darcy Allan Sheppard was killed almost nine years ago, which encouraged long-time advocate Alan Wayne Scott to sue the City for the streets being unsafe for bike messengers and continue to demand justice for Sheppard to this day. Sharrows don’t count as infrastructure and must be replaced with protected bike lanes despite any opposition from the local BIA.
Bloor from Sherbourne to Church has been delayed again despite poor road quality
Completing the Yorkville stretch would become easier once the Sherbourne to Church section gets filled in. As discussed earlier, that section was originally supposed to be done last year, but is now delayed to 2021. An unnecessary delay, given bike lanes have been installed elsewhere without co-ordinating with capital works projects.
Bike lanes east of Sherbourne should be moved curbside
Two improvements can be made on the existing bike lanes from Sherbourne to Castle Frank, which would allow for protection all the way to the Prince Edward Viaduct. The eastbound bike lanes from Sherbourne to Parliament need to be moved curbside, while one of the six traffic lanes from Parliament to Castle Frank needs to be removed.

Beyond the Viaduct
Looking east from Parliament Street where bike lanes are too narrow
As discussed along the Bloor check-up, there is no excuse not to extend the Bloor bike lanes east and west. The bike lanes also need to be extended across the Danforth to provide a true crosstown cycling route. During the election, be sure to ask your candidates to support extending the bike lanes across Bloor-Danforth, as well as on other routes relevant to your neighbourhood.

Rob Z (e-mail)

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