October 23, 2019

Checking Out Scarlett and Six Points

The Etobicoke York district has two main cycling projects for 2019; those being the protected bike lanes on Scarlett Road and the Six Points intersection in Etobicoke Centre. Scarlett was part of an action plan proposed by the Ward 11 Pedestrian Safety and Cycling Community (now Ward 5 York South Weston), while Six Points – where Bloor, Dundas, and Kipling meet – is attracting higher density development. I biked by these two areas on Sunday to understand the importance of these two projects.
Scarlett cycle tracks at the Humber River Trail
Scarlett Road

While the Scarlett rail bridge construction will not happen for a few more years, bike lanes have been recently painted in on Scarlett from Eileen Avenue to just south of Edenbridge Road (a.k.a. the late Rob Ford’s home). Separation is planned for this stretch, but wasn’t installed at this time.

The Scarlett cycle tracks will help provide residents in Central Etobicoke a safe cycling route to the Junction via the Eglinton West Trail, Scarlett Road, Black Creek Trail, and Runnymede Road. Once the Bloor Street bike lanes get extended west to Runnymede next year, this connectivity extends further to Downtown.
The Scarlett cycle tracks and the Bloor bike lane extension will considerably improve cycling access to Downtown from Central Etobicoke per this map
There are a couple of issues with these bike lanes. At the northern end, the bike lanes end just south of Edenbridge and the connection to the Humber River Trail. The bike lanes should have been extended at least to that street (or even to Eglinton Avenue) to make that connection safe and seamless. One other problem lies with the Smythe Park entrance of the Black Creek Trail for those wishing to get to Runnymede Road.
A pedestrian crossover is needed at the Black Creek Trail entrance
Right now, southbound cyclists need to bike 180 metres south to Edinbourough Court to cross at the traffic signal and come back to the trail entrance. Given such a short distance, a pedestrian crossover with crossride is warranted instead of a full signalized crossing to improve safety for those wanting to get to the Black Creek Trail.
The Scarlett bike lanes stop at Eileen Avenue until the rail bridge can be rebuilt
Wayfinding signage is needed for the Black Creek Trail to go from Scarlett to Runnymede, while some quiet streets were also studied to link the two bike routes.

Dundas Street West
An isolated bike lane on Dundas crossing the Humber River
The stretch of Dundas West from Scarlett to Six Points does not have any bike lanes except for the Humber River bridge. However, the 2016 Cycling Network Plan called for them to be installed from Scarlett to Royal York. Given most of this stretch is at least 16 metres wide, installing bike lanes there should be possible with minimal impact to motor vehicle capacity.
WTF is up with this highway style interchange at Dundas and Royal York?
Dundas becomes a real mess at Royal York Road and The Kingsway with its highway style interchange and the presence of a huge traffic island just west of Royal York. On Dundas itself, there is no excuse not to put in proper cycle tracks to cross Royal York in the short term. However, a longer term solution would be to do a Six Points style teardown and put in level crossings that would be more suitable for people who walk and bike rather than risking it on the ramps to and from Royal York.
Dundas west of Islington - with this vintage mural - isn't expected to get bike lanes anytime soon
West of Royal York, Dundas becomes narrower at around 14 metres; meaning traffic lanes would need to be removed to extend the bike lanes further west or Dundas would need to be widened. Road widening is possible east of Islington given that area hasn’t intensified yet, but residents would likely be opposed to losing property to accommodate a bike lane. The higher density west of Islington rules out the possibility of future road widenings there. While that in itself could open up debate on whether to reduce motor vehicle capacity to accommodate people who walk or bike, it is not likely to happen anytime soon given the area is represented by Councillor Stephen Holyday; a known bike skeptic.

Six Points
The bridges crossing Kipling Avenue can no longer be seen from Bloor
Since I visited the Six Points area last year, the bridges crossing Kipling Avenue have been knocked down and Dundas Street West has been realigned from Dunbloor Road to Jopling Avenue; a significant improvement over the previous spaghetti junction layout. Per the most recent construction notice, the intersection is expected to be fully open by December 2019 – weather permitting – which would be ahead of the originally planned Spring 2020 date.
Raised cycle track on Dundas south of Bloor with a "Bike Lane Closed" sign
With the exception of the Bloor and Dundas intersection, the raised cycle tracks on Dundas from Dunbloor to Kipling are now substantially completed though “Bike Lane Closed” signs were put up for the time being. Bike lane and sidewalk construction are readily visible on Dundas from Kipling to Jopling, while two traffic lanes in each direction will be maintained on Dundas, Bloor, and Kipling. Evidence of raised cycle track construction can also be found on Kipling between Dundas and Bloor, though the western half of the street is still dirt.
Ongoing construction at Kipling Avenue
Motorists can finally drive straight through on Bloor in this area instead of having to navigate the complicated spaghetti junction. Before then, the most direct ramps curved from Bloor to Dundas when travelling westbound. Supporters of the Bloor bike lanes will appreciate the raised cycle track being completed from Dundas to Resurrection Road next to the police station, while they will go as far west as Prennan Avenue.

Next Steps
Bike lanes now exist on Bloor west of Shaw Street! :)
As design and consultation for bike lanes on the Shaw to Runnymede stretch of Bloor continue, Toronto must also work to extend the Bloor bike lanes at Six Points eastward and ultimately close the gap. As discussed previously, the Etobicoke section of Bloor has more than enough space to accommodate protected bike lanes and two traffic lanes in each direction. However, the stretch from Resurrection to the existing bike lanes on Royal York should be done first to ensure the Six Points area is connected, while the Royal York to the Humber River stretch can wait given the bottleneck at the river.

Cheers!
Rob Z (e-mail)

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