August 31, 2020

Brimley, Huntingwood & North Scarborough Green Loop

One part of Toronto I haven’t biked around as much is Scarborough. Sure, I biked to my old job in Pickering from Rouge Hill GO station, but only two kilometres of that trip is in Scarborough. As for longer treks, I did bike along the Gatineau Hydro Corridor and got to the Scarborough Bluffs once each. Yesterday, I joined the Toronto East Cyclists for a ride along the North Scarborough Green Loop while also checking the recently installed Brimley ActiveTO lanes.

Janet Joy and Peter - along with the Toronto East Cyclists - on the Huntingwood bike lanes

Potential on Brimley

I took the TTC to Warden Station which lacks elevators. Before getting to Brimley, I passed by Birchmount – a ghost of bike lane past – and Scarborough GO station; under which has a huge buffer in addition to two traffic lanes per direction. That buffer could have been better used for a bike lane to connect Warden TTC and Scarborough GO stations to Brimley, as well as west to O’Connor and the Woodbine bike lanes.

Huge buffers on St. Clair East under Scarborough GO station

Once on Brimley, I stopped at Kingston Road to ridicule the amount of space given to cars. With six traffic lanes, there is no excuse not to remove two lanes and convert them to protected bike lanes. The same needs to apply for any arterial with six or more lanes that is included in the bike plan.

Why is this bollard inside the Brimley bike lane?

The Brimley bike lanes are among the widest Toronto has to offer with some parts being as wide as the traffic lane! Some of the side streets had tightened curb radii which helps people reduce the time they need to walk across the street. One weird thing I saw was some bollards were placed inside the bike lane.

Passed by the Scarborough Town Centre on the way to the Toronto East Cyclists ride

Unfortunately, the bike lanes end at Lawrence. If Brimley is to become Scarborough’s north-south spine, the bike lane needs to be extended to the Finch Hydro Corridor. Such an extension would provide safe connections to the Brimorton and Huntingwood bike lanes, as well as Scarborough Town Centre. Not to mention, a safe crossing over Highway 401 is badly needed.

While Brimley has edge lines here, why use those when you have this trail on the right?

Once past Highway 401, some edge lines can be found on Brimley, while a short multi-use trail starts at Heather Road and ends just south of Huntingwood.

Huntingwood and North Scarborough Green Loop

Some of the fifteen cyclists gathered for yesterday's ride

Fifteen cyclists were present at the meeting point at Brimley and Huntingwood. Garnet Belik and Jonathan Schmidt of Toronto East Cyclists welcomed the group, asked riders to introduce themselves, and talked about the ride itinerary. Toronto East Cyclists organized rides every weekend this summer showcasing what Scarborough has to offer including The Meadoway, the Brimley bike lanes, and Highland Creek. They are currently recruiting volunteers across Scarborough to ensure the Brimley and Huntingwood bike lanes become permanent, as well as expand Scarborough’s bikeway network. Please look them up on Facebook or Twitter if you live in the area.

Cars park in the Huntingwood bike lane often thanks in part to a lack of enforcement

Riding along Huntingwood was not bad with the bike lanes being buffered. However, the bike lanes do not have protection and there were lots of motor vehicles blocking them. To add insult to injury, Jonathan informed us the police are not enforcing the bike lanes because the necessary bylaws are not in place. The only time drivers would get ticketed is if the cars were parked for more than three hours. Booooo!

This bridge at Van Horne is the safest way to get from Scarborough to Fairview Mall

Before riding the North Scarborough Green Loop, we took the safest route to get to Fairview Mall and Don Mills TTC station. That involved taking Old Sheppard, Edmonton, and crossing Highway 404 along Van Horne. Turning left onto Kingslake eventually brings you to the mall. It’s not the most direct way to get there, but much more comfortable than using Sheppard and dealing with the highway interchange. Van Horne is wide enough to accommodate bike lanes (10 metres) and should be seriously considered to help people who bike cross the highway, along with those on Victoria Park across the city.

Good wayfinding signage along the North Scarborough Green Loop

Erhard Kraus proposed the Green Loop several years back – which linked several existing trails within the area - with the support of the local councillor at the time (Chin Lee), the City’s Cycling Unit, and the Toronto Region Conservation Authority. While the wayfinding signage was good, there are several improvements needed along the western trail which starts at Dunmurray Boulevard.

The lack of curb cuts on the Green Loop hinders accessibility on this trail

There are no curb cuts at Timberbank Boulevard which can hinder accessibility – an issue repeated on the eastern leg near Brimley – while the path itself is very narrow. I was told this was because the TRCA does not have the same trail standards as the City, though the eastern access trail is better.

L'Amoreaux Park represents the start of the eastern Finch Hydro Corridor trail

The eastern Finch Hydro Corridor trail starts at L’Amoreaux Park and is sufficiently wide. It runs next to McNicoll Avenue at first and shifts to within the hydro corridor just before Midland; a road which was considered for bike lanes but was later scrapped in favour of Brimley. Getting to the western Finch trail – which we didn’t do this time around – required using McNicoll to cross the highway and resuming the trail at Duncan Creek Park. Would be nice if a multi-use path can be built along McNicoll to fill this gap.

Back to Toronto

Part of the eastern Finch Hydro Corridor trail runs along McNicoll

After finishing the Green Loop ride, I was impressed with how far Scarborough has come with building their cycling culture; part of which can be attributed to Scarborough Cycles’ efforts. However, a lot of work remains including ensuring Brimley and Huntingwood become permanent, extending Brimley so it becomes Scarborough’s north-south spine, and adding more arterial connections.

Curb tightenings have been spotted along several side streets intersecting Brimley

Janet Joy, Peter, and I used Victoria Park to get back, which may be the most direct route but certainly a scary one with it being six lanes (again) north of York Mills and Ellesmere where Peter turned off. Janet Joy and I continued down Victoria Park and O’Connor to get back to protected bike lanes along Woodbine and Bloor-Danforth.

Thanks Janet Joy for taking this picture at O'Connor and Woodbine

Thanks to Toronto East Cyclists for organizing yesterday’s ride. For those who haven’t biked in Scarborough lately, I recommend doing it to understand the full picture of why Toronto’s road safety advocates need to step up their efforts in Scarborough and other inner suburbs.

UPDATE 2020/09/02 - Councillor Gary Crawford's office used one of my pictures from this blog post to talk about Brimley, but the picture was really of Huntingwood.


  1. Bellamy was scheduled for a Bike lane in Scarborough, it never happened though (it should have). Birchmount and Pharmacy both need to be restored. A Pharmacy connection over 401 is needed (at least for pedestrians/bikes, but I wouldn't object to cars). Finch Hydro Corridor Trail needs to be completed. A focus on cycling infra near the colleges would make sense. UTSC would benefit from Morningside and Military Trail; while Centennial would benefit greatly from Progress and Milner. Also need those bike lanes on Eglinton!

  2. Thanks for this report, and I am glad to hear you had a good ride! Us Scarberians can use some encouragement when it comes to cycling infrastructure.
    One minor comment: I think it's Toronto Water that is responsible for the maintenance of the Green Loop north/south sections, not parks or TRCA as one might think.

  3. As per usual, Rob, another great summary for 'Two Wheeled Politics'. Aside from the 15 of us on the ride, I was impressed having seen other cyclists out and about in the Scarborough neighbourhoods - something I hope will happen within those of North York where I live. Scarborough I believe, has a chance to truly boost its cycling culture with the Huntingwood bike lanes. Brimley of course needs to be extended to Huntingwood to provide a valuable connection, and to be continued northward. With what we experienced on this ride, yes, there is proof of a cycling interest in the suburbs!