August 10, 2020

Approaching Fifteen Kilometres of Glory

This summer in Toronto has seen bike lanes installed at an unprecedented rate including the ongoing establishment of a fifteen kilometre continuous east-west cycling corridor along Bloor-Danforth. This has been a dream decades in the making and one poised to become a game changer for cycling in this city. On Friday afternoon, I had the chance to check out some of the progress.

Starting With Bloor

No pre-markings were present between Indian Road and Symington Avenue, while there was some utility work going on just east of the West Toronto Railpath which may hold up progress there. As per Jun N’s recent blog post, pre-markings have been spotted at Runnymede going east.

The first sign of bike lane was found at Symington with enough buffers to ensure protection throughout. While only the eastbound bike lanes were painted in from Symington to Shaw Street on Friday, the westbound lanes were painted in as of yesterday. Construction of the Bloor bike lane extension is expected to last until the end of the month, so another check in will be needed.

Along the Bloor East gap, wave barriers and planters were added since I last checked in late June. Unfortunately, there were reports of the wave barriers already being flattened. With this month marking the 11th anniversary of Darcy Allan Sheppard’s death, it is disheartening how long it took for this part of Bloor to be made safe for people who bike.

Destination Danforth

Once across the Prince Edward Viaduct, I was greeted with a “bike lane ends” sign which does not belong there any longer. I hope the City moves that sign to Dawes Road as soon as possible.

The bike lanes are installed all the way to Woodbine and appear to be well done. Planters and curbs with bollards are abundant to provide protection throughout, while the medians are coloured depending on the BIA. Green for Broadview-Danforth, blue for Greektown, turquoise for Danforth Mosaic, and purple for Danforth Village.

During the summer months, some of the parking spaces have been converted to patios as part of CaféTO with some arrow stickers placed on the bike lane to guide people who bike through. Some may complain about having to swerve around the patios, but that’s the point of Destination Danforth. It is not designed for the racer in spandex, but rather for leisurely riders who may want to pull into local shops and/or enjoy some food or drink. Danforth feels a lot more lively with the patios and bike lanes.

Once past Woodbine, the eastbound bike lanes were painted in all the way to Dawes Road. The westbound lanes were not yet painted in, though I expect that should be done later this week with protection to follow in due course.

Going back, I was disappointed to see there not being a protected intersection at Danforth and Woodbine. Something I hope gets revisited for the permanent design, along with replacing green paint for bus stops with transit waiting islands.

For a final stop along Danforth, I stopped at The Only Café for an iced latté and cookie to take in the CaféTO patios. After all, you can’t call it Destination Danforth without giving local businesses some support. 😉

Remaining ActiveTO Goodies

At the time of writing, Toronto has installed almost 30 kilometres of on-street bike lanes this year with another five kilometres currently under construction. While that already makes 2020 Toronto’s best year ever for bike lane installations, adding in the projects under construction would make the 2020 numbers higher than the previous ten years (2010 – 2019) combined! Of course, 2011 and 2012 were negative because of the bike lane removals on Birchmount, Pharmacy, and Jarvis.

Aside from Danforth, all the remaining temporary ActiveTO projects have been completed with Huntingwood being painted in last week. The two kilometres for Faywood were dropped because they have been replaced with sharrows which don’t count as infrastructure. In addition to the projects under way, there is two kilometres worth of permanent structure expected to be installed.

Where To Go Next?

Even though this year’s bike lane installations appear to be awesome from a Toronto perspective, it pales in comparison to other cities such as Montréal and New York. After removing boulevard paths – which the City treats as part of off-road trails – the City will still be 110 kilometres behind their on-street numbers as we approach the halfway mark of the 2016 bike plan. By the end of 2020, almost 170 kilometres (out of 335) would have needed to be installed compared to 55 kilometres as currently projected.

While various road safety advocates have been calling for a Phase 2 of ActiveTO, it is not likely there will be much more installed this year given the next City Council meeting is expected at the end of September which doesn’t leave much time before winter. Given this reality, there is a need to pressure Toronto City Council to ensure this year’s pace of over 30 kilometres becomes the new normal instead of going back to five or six kilometres annually pre-pandemic. There is also a need to ensure more infrastructure gets built in the suburbs and in marginalized communities to ensure all of Toronto has access to safe streets.

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