December 09, 2020

Connecting to Kipling Station

On Monday, a virtual public meeting was held regarding a proposal to extend the Martin Grove bike lanes from Rathburn to just north of Burnamthorpe, as well as upgrade the existing Rathburn bike lanes with protection and the intersection at Rathburn and Martin Grove. This is all part of a watermain replacement project planned for next year. I was able to tune in to the meeting and have some thoughts to share.

Rendering of proposed Martin Grove cycle tracks (via City of Toronto)

The main aim of extending the Martin Grove bike lanes is to eventually provide a safe cycling connection to Kipling subway station; something that will go a long way in establishing a true bikeway network in Etobicoke. The section from Rathburn to Donalbert is about 14 metres wide which is plenty for protected bike lanes.

Martin Grove from Rathburn to Donalbert (via City of Toronto)

South of Donalbert, Martin Grove narrows to 10 metres wide which prompted the City to recommend buffered bike lanes instead. I would prefer that protected bike lanes be used south of Donalbert despite the narrow width given drivers will certainly block the bike lanes if there are no barriers.

Martin Grove from Donalbert to Burnamthorpe (via City of Toronto)

Regarding Rathburn, a one metre wide buffer already exists between the bike lane and traffic lane which makes protection a no brainer. The City proposed two kinds of protection from Martin Grove to The East Mall. The first is concrete curbs and bollards which are seen along the Bloor bike lane extension, while the second is jersey barriers which could be covered with artwork in the future. In both cases, the speed limit would be reduced to 40 km/h. The Rathburn bike lanes would become even more useful if they could be extended across Highway 427 – which requires provincial approval – to the existing Renforth bike lanes.

The intersection at Rathburn and Martin Grove currently uses bollards to tighten curb radii which helps reduce pedestrian crossing times and forces drivers to slow down when turning. The intersection work will make the tighter curb radii a permanent feature. However, I do not approve the idea of placing the bike lane between the right turn lane and the thru traffic lane. It’s a practice that needs to be phased out and should be replaced with protected intersections.

Martin Grove and Rathburn intersection improvements (via City of Toronto)

A question was asked about whether the existing Martin Grove bike lanes from Rathburn to just south of Eglinton would be upgraded with protection. However, city staff confirmed the road there is too narrow which I measured to be 10 metres using Google Maps. One thing I would recommend is to fill the gap between Winterton and the Eglinton West Trail as soon as possible.

Map of proposed Martin Grove bike lane extension (in turquoise) and potential connections along Martin Grove, Rathburn, and Bloor including Six Points (in green)

Looking south of Burnamthorpe, Martin Grove is less than nine metres wide which makes adding painted bike lanes impossible without making the road one way. Another solution which could be considered is advisory bike lanes which have been used on Somerset in Ottawa. Under such a treatment, parking could be maintained on one side while motorists would enter a bike lane only to pass an oncoming vehicle and when the safety of people biking isn’t endangered. The sidewalk along the west side of Wedgewood Junior Public School would need to be upgraded into a multi-use path, while the Bloor bike lanes would need to be extended from Beamish to Martin Grove to complete the connection to Kipling Station.

Advisory bike lanes such as on Somerset in Ottawa could work on Martin Grove

While listening to the Q&A period, I noticed a fair bit of resistance to the project which isn’t surprising for Etobicoke. Some participants asked about bike counts in the area and the possibility of removing the barriers along Rathburn later on. One person (Constantine) even mentioned a petition was being organized to block the proposed bike lanes (which I won't link here). While some political observers will note the councillor in the area - Stephen Holyday - is one of the least bike friendly members of Toronto City Council, I would suggest not jumping to conclusions given he did support bike lanes on Renforth in his ward three years ago.

This potential resistance serves as a reminder for people who support safe cycling in Etobicoke to organize their neighbours and let their voices heard. The deadline to complete the survey and submit additional feedback to martingrove@toronto.ca is Monday, December 21. The project is expected to go to the Infrastructure and Environment Committee in March 2021 with the Rathburn bike lane upgrades expected to be done in 2021 and the Martin Grove extension in 2022 after the watermain work has been done.

1 comment:

  1. Pamela, thank you for the post! Any opportunity to improve the quality of cycling in Toronto is to be commended. I also live in Sunnylea so take advantage of the trails we can connect to. I did complete the survey and passed your post on to a friend, also a cyclist, that lives in the area referenced.

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