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)

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