March 02, 2020

Crossing Toronto's Rubicon - Part 2

Last July, I wrote about the need to look beyond the currently proposed Bloor bike lane extension to which would eventually lead to Toronto’s crossing of the Rubicon (a.k.a. the Humber). Several developments have happened since then which increases the chances of this happening. Instead of High Park, the extension is now planned to go to the existing bike lanes on Runnymede and Bloor West Village. Mississauga’s updated cycling master plan calls for bike lanes on Bloor and Dundas right to the Toronto border. Finally, it’s already happening at Six Points which will see raised cycle tracks on Bloor from Prennan to Resurrection (500 metres) completed by this spring.
The slides from this community meeting can be found here

The Six Points intersection is part of a larger plan to develop Etobicoke Centre dating back three decades which will include a new Etobicoke civic centre, the Kipling mobility hub, and a redesigned Islington bus terminal. Two public meetings were held on Thursday, February 20 to discuss development on lands near Bloor-Kipling and Bloor-Islington. The evening session I attended saw about 50 to 100 people including some younger people. It’s the second round of public meetings with the first held last fall.
This Etobicoke Centre meeting was focused more on the Housing Now initiative and block context plans for Bloor-Kipling (13.8 acres) and Bloor-Islington (4.9 acres). One of the project's main objectives is to create a "complete community" which factors in things such as affordable housing, public realm, and active transportation. It was good to hear cycling was brought up at the first meeting and someone else asked a question regarding extending the Bloor bike lanes east from Six Points. There was also the possibility of building a multi-use path along the hydro corridor which would connect other trails in the area. This slide from the first meeting does a decent job in highlighting those connections.
And here is a close up of the proposed cycling connections at Bloor and Kipling, which revealed the idea of extending the Bloor bike lanes beyond Resurrection is being considered. Unfortunately there were no proposed road mock-ups near Bloor and Islington which has more than enough space to accommodate bike lanes.
While there was some support for bike lanes – including on sticky notes placed after the presentation – there were some audience questions which showed concerns about parking, traffic, and holding developers accountable. As for other things that should be considered besides connected bike lanes, former TDSB trustee Pamela Gough informed me about the need for a grocery store, a local farmer’s market, a daycare, a medical centre, affordable housing, and ensuring the neighbourhood school is joint public and Catholic. Completed feedback forms can be e-mailed to afurneaux@lura.ca with the subject line “Etobicoke Centre Feedback Form” by Friday, March 13.
Back to the subject of bike lanes west of Runnymede, it is likely Bloor will need to be split in five sections.
  1. Bloor West Village (Runnymede to Old Mill) – This section would connect the upcoming extension with the Humber River Trail and likely get built first; especially if local residents and businesses view the extension favourably. Maybe as far as Prince Edward.
  2. The Kingsway (Old Mill / Prince Edward to Royal York) – Councillor Mark Grimes has opposed bike lanes there, so this section will be more difficult unless a more bike friendly councillor gets elected in 2022. This section will become easier if the Six Points bike lanes get extended east and the Bloor West Village section gets installed.
  3. Etobicoke Centre (Royal York to Resurrection) – With the cycle tracks at Six Points being isolated from the rest of the bikeway network, it only makes sense to connect them with the Royal York bike lanes. This ought to be a top priority along with Bloor West Village despite opposition from The Kingsway which starts at Montgomery.
  4. Prennan to Renforth – The crossing over Highway 427 requires co-ordination with Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation, which may lead to this section being done last. It’s also possible there will be a gap left between The East Mall and The West Mall which is six lanes wide!
  5. Renforth to Mississauga – This section should be done in co-ordination with the City of Mississauga when they start building bike lanes on their part of Bloor. Mississauga’s bike plan calls for them to be installed within the first five years (by 2023 or 2024), but is subject to change.
Mississauga's 2018 Cycling Master Plan - Includes Bloor and Dundas to the Toronto border
While it’s good to look ahead in Bloor West Village and Etobicoke, it’s worth recognizing there are more urgent campaigns such as getting pilot bike lanes on Danforth as early as this year, as well as filling the Bloor East gap from Avenue to Sherbourne. If all goes well, there could be a 15 kilometre continuous route from Runnymede to Dawes by the next election.

Look ahead!
Rob Z (e-mail)

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