September 24, 2020

Audit Ride Around Parkdale-High Park

About ten people from Parkdale High Park Bikes took part in an audit ride on Sunday along with Nicholas from Councillor Ana Bailao’s office. The aim was to inspect the recently installed Bloor bike lane extension and other neighbourhood hotspots such as Brock-Florence, Seaforth, Macdonnell, and the Lansdowne-College-Dundas triangle. Fellow blogger Jun wrote his take here.

Starting at the Bloor and Runnymede intersection, I noticed green left turn boxes at all four corners; something also found at High Park Avenue. (Why not protected intersections? 😉) I noticed a large buffer next to Beresford where the bike lane opens up which made me wonder why couldn’t the City just extend the bike lane to that street. The no right on red signage is greatly appreciated here – as well as at High Park and Parkside – and is something that needs to be rolled out across Toronto.

Extending the bike lane to Beresford would have been better than this large buffer (taken on August 15)
One issue Jun flagged was the parking insets from Glendonwynne to just east of Ellis Park Road. Not just for the bike lane chicaning, but also the concrete channels which can become a snow and ice hazard. Given the sidewalk bump-outs along the way, I would suggest removing them upon reconstruction so that the bike lane goes straight as much as possible. At Ellis Park Road, the parking inset has been converted into a loading zone and the bike lane is placed between the loading zone and the traffic lane. As much as I hate placing bike lanes in the door zone, buffers on both sides help reduce the risk there.

The section from Runnymede to High Park lacks protection, but concrete curbs with bollards can be found from High Park to Parkside.

I was pleased to see the City dropped their initial proposal of having the bike lane cross over the right turn lane. Instead, the bike lane is placed curbside all the way to the intersection with curbs and bollards “almost” all the way.

While bike lanes were painted in between Parkside to Indian with a bike share station placed at Indian, there is still nothing between Indian and Symington due to ongoing utility work. Dundas and Bloor did not get any special treatments despite the high volume of collisions there – just lots of pigeons – though the West Bend Community Association had called for improvements at that intersection a few years back. Especially given the frequent jaywalking on Dundas West between The Crossways and Dundas West subway station.

The only thing that has changed since taking this picture on August 15 is the new bike share station
Bike lanes were considered on Dundas from Bloor to Dupont as part of the 2016 bike plan, but nothing has been announced since then. I would suggest extending them further to Sorauren where the existing Dundas West bike lanes end so Parkdale residents can safely get to Bloor Street.

Once past Lansdowne, the roadway is considerably narrower as are the bike lanes, though at least the curb and bollard protection is virtually completed between Lansdowne and Shaw. There were a couple of places where the curbs were placed between the parking and traffic lanes to allow for CaféTO patio seating. Something which Nicholas mentioned was achieved through co-ordination with local councillors and different City departments. The CaféTO spaces will remain until November 15 while patio heaters were recently permitted to encourage their use as outdoor temperatures plummet.

A CaféTO installation in Bloordale (via Jun N)
We turned back at Dufferin and took Lansdowne, College, and Brock to get to Brock and Florence. That intersection has a dangerous blind spot at the southeast corner where people biking northbound on Brock can’t see drivers on Florence (and vice versa). This area will also be a challenge regarding access to the West Toronto Railpath extension when it gets built in a few years.

The Brock and Florence intersection is a safety hazard given poor visibility (via Jun N)

We then biked to Seaforth and O’Hara to highlight an issue that has long frustrated members of the former Cycle Toronto Ward 14 group. While you can bike westbound on Seaforth from Brock to O’Hara and a parallel eastbound route exists along Maple Grove, you can’t legally bike westbound from O’Hara to Lansdowne without using Queen. Of course, many people continue to bike the wrong way on Seaforth anyway.

Seaforth could use a similar treatment as Argyle pictured below

Given the recent changes done on Argyle from Ossington and Givins which legalized two-way bike travel with a short contraflow bike lane (20 metres), I recommended that the same treatment be used for Seaforth from O’Hara to West Lodge given it is too narrow for a contraflow bike lane.

I recommended a similar approach on Macdonnell between Seaforth and Galley which is currently one way southbound. This would allow people to continue biking west to Sorauren, Roncesvalles, or even High Park without using Queen. A contraflow on Galley Avenue could also be considered given the existing pedestrian crossover at Roncesvalles.

St. Helens from College to College North (left) will be closed to cars soon

After a detour along Sorauren to get back to Lansdowne, we ended our audit ride at the College-Dundas intersection. Nicholas informed us construction of the planned improvements is expected to start in October. These include closing off St. Helens between College North and College, making College North and St. Helen’s one way westbound and northbound (respectively), and adding a traffic signal at College and Dundas so people biking can safely get onto College when going eastbound.

Traffic signals will be installed at College and Dundas soon to improve cycling safety

A bi-directional bike lane along Dundas and College from the Railpath to Brock will be considered in the future, but the City should have considered putting in a bike lane on Dundas from College to Lansdowne so that Parkdale residents can safely get to the West Toronto Railpath.

Bike lanes are needed along this part of Dundas to connect with the Lansdowne bike lanes

After the ride, Helen and I continued east to check out the ActiveTO installation on Yonge Street from Dundas Street to the Waterfront which was done with Open Streets TO. Due to COVID-19, no activity stations were placed unlike in previous years.

Open Streets TO this year is more subdued compared to previous years

While it’s always great to see streets open for people, there are two things that are badly needed. The first is to extend the Yonge Street closure north to Davenport, while Yonge really needs to be open to people more than just two Sundays per year. If the ActiveTO road closures continue next year (and even post-pandemic), I hope Yonge becomes part of it for the entire duration.

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