January 25, 2021

Finishing the Job on Bloor

The past twelve months have seen real progress with cycling on Toronto’s main arterials. Not only is there now the 15 kilometre Bloor-Danforth corridor, but City Council approved a study for bike lanes on Yonge in Midtown and Transform Yonge in North York last fall. Phase one of yongeTOmorrow downtown also passed at the infrastructure and Environment Committee recently and will come to City Council on February 2. With the future of Yonge being all but locked in, it’s time to focus on Etobicoke.

Bloor Street at the Humber River looking west towards Etobicoke

While reading Metrolinx’s blog recently, I came across the initial business case for the Dundas Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) published in September. It is a 40 kilometre transit priority project from Kipling Station to Waterdown in Hamilton (with a connection to McMaster University). As with the Durham – Scarborough BRT discussed earlier, there will be centre running bus lanes for large parts of the route and curbside lanes west of Mississauga, while protected bike lanes will be included across the entire corridor.

Proposed street layout for Dundas BRT in Mississauga and Toronto (via Metrolinx)

I heard of the Dundas Connects study for Mississauga before, but this is the first time plans were revealed to extend the Dundas Connects design into Toronto to Kipling Station. While the construction timeframe is currently unknown, the recently completed Six Points intersection and Kipling bus terminal are both part of this longer term plan. Yet more proof why cycling and transit work well together.

Once the Dundas BRT becomes a reality, a large gap will remain in the cycling network from Resurrection to Runnymede Roads. Sure, not many will bike from Toronto to Hamilton in one ride, but there are other reasons for filling in this critical gap.

A 2010 TCAT study done in Bloor West Village found only 20% of customers get to the neighbourhood by car while people who walk or bike purchase more than those who drive. As with east of Runnymede, there is enough space to put in protected bike lanes with minimal loss of parking. Factor in the nearby Humber River Trail and extending the Bloor bike lanes across the Humber to at least Old Mill becomes a no brainer.

Current conditions along most of Bloor West Village

Closer to Six Points, Housing Now aims to intensify development – including affordable housing units – at the Bloor-Kipling and Bloor-Islington intersections. Accommodating thousands of new residents there will mean ensuring they have options for getting around. Bloor under the rail bridges is at least 8.5 metres wide in each direction which is enough for at least painted bike lanes and four traffic lanes, while Bloor from Green Lanes to Aberfoyle Crescent is even wider with the Bloor-Islington intersection having six traffic lanes (including left and right turn lanes). The Mimico Creek bridge already has edge lines and is wide enough to be upgraded to protected bike lanes. In short, space will not be an issue to extend the Six Points bike lanes east to Mimico Creek.

With potential in Bloor West Village and Islington (between Six Points and Mimico Creek), that leaves The Kingsway which could become the most politically challenging. Not only has the councillor and BIA opposed the Bloor bike lanes through The Kingsway, but a local ratepayer group was also opposed to active transportation improvements when they recently succeeded in blocking a planned sidewalk on South Kingslea.

Even so, residents of The Kingsway and Sunnylea have several reasons to support bike lanes on Bloor. The presence of large tree-lined medians may hinder road design, but Bloor is still wide enough to accommodate protected bike lanes while keeping almost all on-street parking and one traffic lane per direction. Removing the medians would have made it easier to keep all four traffic lanes, but Bloor east of Runnymede has only one traffic lane per direction anyway. The Bloor bike lanes would also connect with the existing ones on Royal York and make it safer to get to the Waterfront or the Humber River Trail. If the business successes on the existing parts of Bloor-Danforth are of any indication, it’s likely businesses in the Kingsway will also benefit from bike lanes.

A rough sketch of how bike lanes (in green) would fit on Bloor in The Kingsway

In addition to Bloor, Etobicoke needs several improvements to create a minimum cycling grid. Bike lanes on The Queensway and Lake Shore would need to be extended, while new bike lanes on Kipling (or Martin Grove) would be needed for a second north-south corridor and Royal York also needs to be upgraded where possible. Bloor would need a short western extension to connect with the planned Martin Grove project for a safe connection to Kipling station, though Dundas is more feasible further west. Earlier this month, Noel Semple and the Better Dundas Coalition launched a new campaign to make Dundas a complete street from Islington to the Humber River. Something which would help connect the Scarlett bike lanes to Six Points.

A rough idea on what a connected cycling grid could look like for Etobicoke

In order to establish the goal of a connected cycling network in Etobicoke, let’s start by finishing the job on Bloor.

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