August 07, 2019

Observations Along the Humber

With the desire to escape the noise from the Caribbean Carnival on Saturday afternoon, I decided to bike the Humber River Trail all the way to Steeles and make some observations. A ride I used to do a few times before. This ride marked the first time I saw a deer while biking in Toronto, which happened south of Islington and Finch. A reminder of how cycling can lead to the most pleasant of surprises.

Pleasant surprises aside, there are some serious issues with this trail in addition to the P gates and narrow bridge near Dundas West I previously raised. Some “Trail Closed” signs were found at Scarlett Road, which were put up because part of the railing next to the river was knocked off. While cyclists could still ignore the signs and bike through, the City should have instead put up temporary barriers and/or pylons along the river instead of making them cross Scarlett Road’s high speed traffic. Alternatively, a mutli-use path could have been installed on Scarlett’s west side for the 200 metres to Edenbridge Drive, which can complement the proposed cycle tracks from the Humber River Trail to just north of St. Clair Avenue (and eventually to Dundas Street West).
Damaged railing under the Scarlett Road bridge
Slightly north at Eglinton, no crossride was available for cyclists going north-south, but they were provided for the east-west Eglinton West Trail. The Humber River Trail has a 50 metre gap on the north side of Eglinton, which raises the potential for pedestrian-cyclist conflicts in the event the Eglinton West LRT gets built. A crossride and trail extension is needed here as soon as possible.
The Eglinton-Scarlett intersection does not have a north-south crossride available
The trail’s biggest weakness is where its southern portion currently ends at St. Phillips and Weston Roads. First, you have a large staircase with wheel tracks on each side. While they can make it easy to carry up lighter bikes such as Bromptons, hybrids, and road bikes, it’s not an option for those with bike trailers, cargo bikes and wheelchairs.
These stairs are not accessible for those with cargo bikes, trailers, and wheelchairs
Second, sharrows are used along Weston between St. Phillips and Cardell Avenue where the trail picks up again, which is the worst place to put them. Better off riding on the sidewalk and giving way to pedestrians. The City completed the first phase of the Mid-Humber Gap from Cruikshank Park to St. Phillips a few years back, but no timing was available on the second phase to complete the trail to Cardell.
Sharrows do not belong on an arterial like Weston Road
While the trail navigation at Rowntree Mills Park isn’t as straight forward as I would have liked, it lead me to a multi-use path along Kipling Avenue which I didn’t know existed before. Having a separate sidewalk along with the multi-use path is a good touch. However, the pavement could use a resurfacing and it is unfortunate the trail only goes from Steeles to Finch Avenues. Given the large amount of grassy medians available on Kipling almost all the way to Eglinton and the six lane stretch crossing Highways 409 and 401, it is certainly possible to extend the multi-use path south and keep at least four traffic lanes. A move which would be consistent with Toronto’s proposed city-wide cycling network and one that could even satisfy skeptics such as Councillors Holyday and Ford. 😉
Multi-use path on Kipling Avenue
In addition to the perennially critical Bloor and Danforth campaigns, road safety advocates need to keep up the pressure on Toronto city council to fill in critical gaps such as those along the Humber River Trail and make bold moves to expand cycling in the inner suburbs. They may not lead to deer sightings, but will help make Toronto safe to bike from Lake Ontario to Steeles and from Etobicoke Creek to the Rouge River.

Keep exploring!
Rob Z (e-mail)

1 comment:

  1. This Humber River trail also has the potential to be the connection from the city to Woodbine Racetrack (which is being redeveloped into a destination), the planned transit hub at Highway 27 ("Union Station West") and the airport itself and the surrounding employment lands.